You can create a stairway to style heaven
STAIRS are a unique architectural feature of the home. By their very design, they are dramatic in scale (rising or descending several feet), have an interesting repeating pattern (as in the actual stairs and/ or railing and spindles) and offer open display options. While the stairs in your home might not seem especially pretty at the moment, you can create drama in this area in many ways. Stairways can be more than just a boring throughway to another floor in the home. As you can see in our feature photos, courtesy of Dulux Australia, a splash of colour can create a huge impact along a stairway. The striped wall leading downstairs could be a stairwell leading to a rec room or play room. The splash of colours is fun and inviting for a relaxed, family space. The gorgeous red wall in the second photo creates a dramatic focal point in an open concept space.
Small wall, huge drama
Small wall areas are great places to bring in a splash of colour or dramatic displays. Because of the small visual area, vivid colour will provide impact without being too overpowering. The wall space along a staircase is a great place to play with colour without a huge commitment. If it doesn’t work out, it’s an easy enough fix. Paint, wallpaper or even fabric can be used in this area to give your home visual interest. By dramatic display I am referring to large paintings or large groups of paintings, textured finishes (like stone), mirror or tiled wall surfaces, oversized or dramatic light fixtures, art niches and so on. Drama can be created in many ways; not just with colour.
Consider all of the angles
When created a dramatic effect in a stairway, look at the view from all angles. The view going up and down the stairs should be considered. Very often, the facing wall when descending the stairs is quite high and can benefit from large scale treatments such as a decorative area rug, a large painting or even a unique item like a vintage wedding dress, antique textile or shelving to display a collection. Be creative.
If there is a natural ledge or railing in this area, consider displaying draping plants or a collection of decorative items on the ledge or again, drape an interesting textile over the ledge/railing to create drama.
Risers are a blank canvas
Stair risers, which are the fronts of the stairs that face you, are an awesome place to get creative with display and finishes. If the stairs are not carpeted (or if there is carpeting only on the treads) the risers are a series of small, blank canvasses just waiting for your decorative ideas. This area can create a huge impact in the right setting and with the right display. For example, if you have a centre hall plan with a staircase that greets you when you enter the home, you might consider decorating the risers to create impact in the foyer. I’ve seen everything from elegant brass house numbers being attached to the middle of each riser counting up from the number one, to hand-painted decorative tiles glued to the risers in an attractive pattern. For a more casual setting, like in a rec room, the risers could be used to display a collection of vintage licence plates, sporting buttons/pins or pennants.
Paint can be used in many unique ways to create interest on stair risers. Paint each riser in a different colour for a youthful, fun look or in soft, graduated tones of the same colour for a soft, romantic feel. A bright solid colour, like orange or red, might be just what the house doctor ordered to give your home a little pizzazz. If you’re handy with an artist’s paint brush, you could paint decorative designs on each riser or stencil a favourite design or pattern on the risers. Create a simple border on each side of the risers using paint and masking tape. To add architectural interest, attach decorative millwork (like rosettes, acorns or other appliqués) to each riser in a pleasing pattern, and paint as desired.
Railings and spindles
Another way to update a boring staircase is to paint the railing and spindles in a fresh colour or two. If the railing is made of a rich wood that matches either the flooring or stair then consider painting just the spindles in a warm white to break up the monotony of wood surfaces while still maintaining the decorative wooden touches. If the railing and spindles need work then paint all of the surfaces in a fresh colour. Consider fun ideas like painting the spindles in three or four different colours for a fun, youthful look, or winding thick, decorative rope around each spindle for a nautical look.
If you don’t feel like getting out the paint can or hot glue gun you can still create visual interest through display. Place like items (in a similar theme) along one side each step to create an interesting vertical vignette. Items like small bird houses, decorative pots, vases, books or CDs, dolls or other collections can be displayed in this very unique way. Only use this idea if there is sufficient room for display without creating a safety hazard. Place the items on the side away from the railing for added safety. I don’t recommend this display idea for households with small children or pets.
Stairways are just one more place to get creative when decorating your home. Have fun and keep me posted on your projects.