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Design Inspo

15 Stair Railing Ideas To Update Your Space

Home design is all in the details. Check out this guide for stair railing ideas that can breathe new life into any space. 

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A staircase railing is much more than a functional aspect of an entryway or living room. It’s even more than just a safety precaution. Believe it or not, there are many ways to turn your stair railing into an eye-catching part of your home — one that you and your guests will marvel at.

Whether you land on a simple DIY paint job or a more elaborate structural shift, here are 15 ways to turn your stair railing into a focal point of your space.

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1. Use a Minimalist Design for Your Modern Home

If you have a modern living room, you need a modern staircase to match. (We don’t make the rules!) Swap out your banister with a metal, steel, or iron stair railing to add a contemporary, minimalist feel.

If you don’t want to buy and install a brand-new wrought iron railing quite yet, you might wish to go the DIY route. Evoke the essence of an iron staircase railing by sanding and painting your current feature a darker color like black or gray. Refreshing a wood handrail can take several days, not including gathering the supplies (PPE like dust masks, 120 and 240-grit sandpaper, drop cloths, paintbrushes, stains, sealers, and more). 

A project like this is no easy feat, although it certainly is possible! To ensure you’ll like the final result, create a simple rendering of your home to see what the projected makeover would be like with Spoak’s interior design visualization tool. Our design tools allow you to easily make changes, play around with material options, and dream up the potential design options.

2. Go Classic Victorian With Your Stair Railing

If you’re feeling like introducing the elegance and luxury of a bygone era into your space, try a classic Victorian look for your stair railing. If you’re interested in this style of home decor, add a newel post to the foot of your stairs and at every turn of your railing. Both a practical item that adds structure as well as a wonderful design addition, a newel post can be purchased new or even vintage.

To keep the Victorian/Queen Anne motif going in your living space, lay down a central stair runner in deep, rich colors held down by an antique steeple tip finial stair rod in gold or brass tones. 

3. Incorporate Metal Balusters Into Your Design

Metal balusters give your stair railing an eye-catching design that people won’t be able to ignore. A metal baluster, often made of wrought iron, is one of those items that exist on many ends of the design spectrum: they can range from vintage to sleek, from classicist to modern, with one of the most common being Georgian home styles. It is just a matter of finding what type of baluster matches your home decor.

While wrought iron is definitely popular, you’ll also find wood balusters, and these wooden staircase features can be stained to match whatever design style you wish. You can evoke the feeling of black metal if you wish, or you can go for a vibrant, unexpected color like green. Swoon.

4. Experiment With the Grandmillennial Style

Grandmillennial style has been buzzing lately with its combination of old-world maximalism with new-world color schemes and designs. A term frequently attributed to the movement is “granny chic,” and it exists on the opposite end of the minimalism spectrum.

Use this trend as inspiration for your stair railing by going classic in the grandest and most playful of ways. For example, you could try using a sculptural design that your cool grandparents would love, one with floral patterns and antique origins. 

Go grand and ensure that:

  • The open risers are in the same shade as the spindles.
  • The tread matches the stair handrail. 
  • The stair runner is totally kitschy.

5. Go Simple and All White

Sometimes, the simplest of ideas leads to the best results. For a stair railing design that’s chic and classy without drawing too much focus, try painting it all white. White doesn’t mean boring; in fact, after sorting through the numerous white paint options, you’ll probably develop a lot of passionate opinions about eggshell vs. ivory vs. vanilla. 

6. Add Stair Treads to Your Staircase

Carpet stair treads are yet another way to achieve several things at once with your staircase design. They are a way to add a dynamic flow to your home based on the colors and specific look of the carpet you choose.

Another benefit of stair treads is that they make your stairs safer, reducing the slipperiness of the typical wood beneath the carpet. They also make your staircase much quieter when you have people going up and down them frequently (aka a perfect option for hosts). 

A quick PSA: We always recommend checking your local building codes for staircase home renovation projects. Better safe than sorry! 

Beautiful staircase design by Christina Fieni; Designed in Spoak

7. Choose an Eye-Catching Spiral Stair Railing 

If you really want your home’s staircase to stand out (as well as save room in a loft or smaller home), try a spiral staircase makeover. A spiral stair railing is an immediate focal point, and it can be both modern and vintage in design. Materials such as glass and metal railings contribute to a more contemporary design, while wood is a top-notch choice for a classic, elegant look. 

8. Get Playful With Paint and Color

Painting and staining wood stair railings are some of the best ways for homeowners to personalize their staircases to match their unique color palette. Getting creative with paint can be a way for you to match the staircase with the color palettes surrounding it and accentuate your stair railing so that it pops and stands out. Rainbow staircase, anyone?

Colorful staircase inspiration; Designed by Virginia Ibarra in Spoak

9. Use Glass Panels for a Sleek Design 

Glass is a unique material to use for stair railings, typically offering a more modern feel to your space. Glass railings can be stand-alone or be attached to the handrail of your choosing, whether wooden, iron, or steel. 

If you’re looking for an opportunity to add color, use stained glass rather than the traditional clear look. 

10. Guardrails for Safety and Style

If you have children in your home, another concern for your staircase might be safety. When it comes to pet and kid-friendly decor ideas, floating staircases are typically not your best bet. Beyond that, add guardrails to help child-proof your home. 

The decision doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice an elegant look for your stairs; the guardrails you choose offer a myriad of design options that can contribute to your home. You can pick simple wooden or metal rods to fill the space, or you can even decide on horizontal paneling as a way to create a rustic look — all of this while making your home safer. 

11. Add a Gothic Touch to Your Stair Railing

Another era of architecture that can be an inspiration for the design of your home’s stair railing is Gothic architecture. To make your stairwell reminiscent of that era, try using iron balusters that have old-world patterns and shapes.

Gothic railing can be reclaimed and purchased at your local vintage and antique stores, but the spirit of the 19th century can also be found in new designs that attempt to replicate that style. 

12. Use Cable Railings To Stay Contemporary 

Cable railings are one of the best options for industrial and modern design ideas.

The thin cables contribute to a more open decor style, one that takes up minimal space but remains effective. Plus, if you use stainless steel for your indoor stairs, you can bring this metal to outdoor staircases for improved flow and continuity. 

13. Incorporate Lighting for Late-Night Wanderings

As a practical addition for trips up and down your stairs late at night and a decorative choice to illuminate your stair railing, use LED lights to make your staircase a modern focal point.

Strip lights are an easy way to add light to your stair railing by placing them either underneath the handrail for bottom light or over them for top light. You can even choose the temperature of light that you feel fits your space best to make late-night snack trips a touch more glamorous. 

14. Get Rustic With Reclaimed Wood and Branch Railings

For a decor style closer to nature that can add a rustic feeling to your home, use a real piece of wood or a branch as your stair railing. Whether a real branch you found or a designed, custom-made piece of wood made to replicate a real-life branch, using nature as a design guide can lead to unique, organic, and eye-catching results. 

15. A Floating Railing Along Your Wall

To decrease visual clutter, install a floating railing. Instead of resting on spinels at the open side of the staircase, a floating railing attaches to the wall. A main feature of modern styles, a floating railing allows for unobstructed views and enhanced open space. 

Some options for a floating railing include:

  • A metal bar for modern homes
  • A painted wooden plank for craftsman-style homes
  • A stylized pipe for industrial-style lofts or apartments

Stairway to Heaven

There are limitless options for making your stair railings more than just a functional aspect of your home. A stair railing should grab people's attention and contribute to the overall look and feel of your space. 

Ranging from modern to vintage, the design possibilities for your stair railing can fit whatever interior design style and color palette you desire. Level up your space with design inspiration from Spoak. 

Photo Credit: (Left) Casa Xaloc


How to Sand and Stain Stair Railings | SFGate

Repurposing Vintage Newel Posts | This Old House

What Is Georgian Architecture? | The Spruce

Stair Railing and Guard Building Code Guidelines | The Spruce

Ready to start your stair railing project? Use Spoak’s design visualization tools to help bring it to life.

Date Posted
May 17, 2023



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