How to create your own stairway to heaven
If you find that your home is lacking drama, you might want to consider highlighting an often forgotten architectural feature, the staircase.
Stairs, by their very nature are visually interesting. They provide drama through height, repeated pattern and details such as railings, spindles and newel posts, depending upon your specific situation. All of these elements can be used to create drama and focus in a myriad of ways.
Depending upon the specific staircase design and location in your home, there are many options for change and potential visual drama for each situation.
The visually stunning stairway in our feature photo, courtesy of Sico Paints, is just one example of how a little paint can add tons of visual appeal. You can see how dark colours add drama, especially when contrasted with the white floor and the light that is reflected through the staircase because it lacks risers. The look is minimalistic but graphic, restful yet oddly inspiring.
This particular colour scheme is from Sico’s Switching Off palette that includes delicate, smoky tones of blue-tinted blacks, snow-capped whites and harmonizing greys and taupes. In a home-décor setting, these colours can be transformed into sophisticated contrasts through interplay of matt and high gloss, emitting a sense of stillness and creativity.
Other ideas for a seemingly “floating” staircase include installing Plexiglas walls in place of a solid half-wall, carpeting each tread for tactile comfort and texture, or painting each tread in a variegated colour palette, just to name a few.
More often than not, a staircase will have risers, a hand railing and spindles. If the railing and/or spindles are made of wood, then you have a lot of options with regard to the look you can create. Because you can see through the spindles, painting the main wall along the stairs in a vivid colour will allow for a great focal feature.
A sumptuous wall colour, like pumpkin for instance, set behind soft white spindles could be stunning in the right space. Dark wood spindles could work in the reverse, with a light colour on the main wall to contrast the dark features.
Breaking up that main wall is another way to go. Install wainscoting up the stairway wall and down into the landing to give the area even more architectural appeal. Rich paint colour or even patterned wallpaper on the top portion of the wall will look stunning against the lower, light wainscoting.
If this idea is too pricey, consider creating a similar look using wallpaper on the lower portion of the wall and bordering it with decorative trim. It’s a less-permanent way to go and definitely affordable.
You could also mimic the effect of wainscoting by installing decorative trim to the lower portion of the wall to create separation and faux wall panels, and then paint two co-ordinating colours on the upper and lower portions of the wall.
Painting the stairs
Painting wooden stairs is definitely an option to change the look of your staircase. I recommend carpeting at least the middle of the treads for safety reasons. Slick stairs are a disaster just waiting to happen. Even pets can slip and fall down uncarpeted stairs.
Save your creative painting for use on the risers rather than the treads. On the risers you can paint bright colours, stencils, quotes, install colourful tiles, house numbers, vintage licence plates and all sorts of other unique ideas. Do a search on the web for images of stairway décor to get more ideas.
Use unique items like boat oars or driftwood as bannisters to create a beach or cottage look. If carpeting the treads, consider using inexpensive carpet remnants in coordinating colours for a truly unique look.
Open space underneath a staircase is a great place for display. A console table, small desk or hall table, depending upon the space available, can house tons of daily items like mail, gloves and keys. Perhaps you need extra storage for CDs and DVDs and could create a built-in unit that will be both useful and attractive. This might also be a good area for a wine rack, bookshelf or what-have-you.
Create a focal point when looking up the stairs. If there is a substantial landing, hang a large painting or mirror to create a little drama. A small console table with a large vase of flowers could work if you have the floor space. You want to lead the eye up the stairway in an inviting way.
Whatever projects you decide on, consider the view from both ends of the stairs to ensure overall cohesion. Also pay attention to lighting to gauge your colours choices and display options.
Keep safety in mind as well. Don’t have items hanging on the wall or sitting on the stairs that will impede safe passage.