Step Up Your Staircase Design

Stairs can be an afterthought when it comes to designing a space. Dress up this high-visibility area with simple, big-impact fixes like paint, wallpaper and family photos.
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November 25, 2014
By: Liz Gray

Photo By: Chris Amaral © 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier © 2011, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Tricia Messeroux © 2013, HGTV/Scripps Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. OWNED - No limitations on time/term, territory or media as long as the images are o

Photo By: Photo Courtesy: Scott Womack © 2013 Gibbs Smith, Allure of French & Italian Decor, Betty Lou Phillips

Photo By: Chris Amaral © 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Playful Pattern

Give a plain white staircase a whole new personality by creating a faux runner. Paint the outer edges, add stripes and stamp Xs and Os on the risers for a new, whimsical look. Get the full how-to at

Cottage-Style Stairs

For a shabby chic take on the painted stair runner, use white, brick red and creamy yellow paint. Mismatched, salvaged house numbers give this farmhouse stairwell an extra design pop, as seen on HGTV's Sarah's House.

Candy-Colored Stripes

These bright, cheerful vertical stripes coordinate with the pink and blue hues featured in this eclectic living room, while also leading the eye upstairs. Design by Cortney and Robert Novogratz.

Wallpaper Your Stair Risers

Add style to your staircase by decking out the risers with wallpaper, acrylic sheeting and decorative hardware. Combine sample-sized rolls in coordinating colors and patterns to make this project even more budget-friendly.

White on Black

Painting the stair risers and skirtboard black allows the large-scale birch-patterned wallpaper on the stair risers to stand out, as seen on HGTV's Cousins on Call.

Color Coded

Paint your family's favorite words or phrases onto the risers using stencils you can buy online or at most craft stores. (Super-fun attached slide optional.) Here, Cortney and Robert Novogratz started with basic white and added a rainbow of hues.

Create an Ombre Effect

For a more subtle staircase accent, create a trendy ombre look like John Colaneri and Anthony Carrino (pictured) did here on HGTV's Cousins Undercover. Start at the bottom with a favorite hue, then add a little more white paint to the mix each time you move up to the next riser.

Tiled Stair Risers

A nod to Spanish Colonial style and the tradition of cladding stair risers with Talavera tiles, glass tile lends color, texture and protection against scuff marks in HGTV Smart Home 2013.

Zebra Carpet Runner

Swap a plain carpet runner for a bold, zebra-printed version that adds both comfort and style.

Add Texture With Sisal

For durable, easy-to-clean texture without bold color, consider adding a sisal runner to your staircase. Learn how to install your own.

Make Use of Wasted Space

That triangular wall under the staircase? Turn it into a tidy home office, complete with a wall-sized bulletin board for photos, notes and mementos.

Create a Gallery Wall

Turn this well-traveled area of the home into a showcase for treasured family photos. Here's how to create a cohesive, salon-style gallery wall along a stairwell.

Red-Paneled Stairwell Wall

For a more dramatic look, stagger photography and art along a bright accent wall all the way up the stairs, like HGTV's Cousins on Call did here.

Make a Modern Art-Inspired Gate

Banish basic stair gates for pets or babies in favor of this stylish version inspired by iconic modern artist Piet Mondrian. Here's how to make your own.

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