Modern flared wood staircase with contrasting treads and a geometric iron railing.
Unless you’re doing a major home renovation, staircases aren’t always top of mind when it comes to home improvement projects – but they do hold plenty of opportunity for exciting design moments. With countless finish options and decorative elements to choose from, the staircase is a great place to showcase your personal taste.
With that in mind, it’s important for the design of the staircase to flow with the style of the rest of the home – whether that style leans more modern and cool or refined and traditional, your selections can help to incorporate that aesthetic while still adding some unexpected excitement. To help you create your dream staircase, we’ve covered the simple updates you can make to yours for a look that’s all your own.
For a refresh in any unfamiliar terminology, see our Staircase:101 editorial on the anatomy of a staircase here.
Dark wood staircase with an antique nickel, exterior-mounted railing.
Modern staircases typically combine any number of the below materials in the railing and base for a look with depth:
- Wood. The most common and cost-effective material used in staircase designs, wood can be finished in a variety of stains depending on the look you’re going for – traditional, contemporary, or rustic. Try refinishing your wood in a new stain or using an oil-based, lacquer spray in the colour of your choice for a fresh aesthetic.
- Metal. Make your staircase a touch more modern with a metal railing, or swap out the metal that’s already there. Metals like stainless steel and wrought iron make for beautiful, ornate railings because these materials are incredibly malleable, so they’re available in countless railing designs. Go for an ornate design or a minimalist style depending on the aesthetic of your home.
- Glass and Acrylic. For an ultra modern look, try glass or acrylic paneling on the railing. Keep in mind that these materials tend to be more expensive options and aren’t always ideal for homes with small children.
Traditional staircase with a carved wood banister, decorative iron railing, runner and stair rod.
The decorative additions below are the icing on the cake that can have major impact when updating your staircase:
- Finials. A decorative ornament to be placed atop the newel post, these can be selected in virtually any material, style or shape depending on the look you’re going for. Try a clear glass sphere for a modern look or an antique brass pineapple to add a hint of glamour.
- Stair Runner. If you want to add a splash of colour or print, a stair runner is a great option that also adds coziness and prevents slipping. Runners feel grander and more modern than fully-carpeted staircases.
- Stair rods. Finished in a sleek metallic or subtle matte finish, a stair rod is another add-on that can be used to showcase your personal style. Previously, stair rods were used to keep the stair runner in place, but these days they are purely decorative.
- Contrasting treads. For a clean modern look, try different colours for the risers and treads. White risers look elegant and light paired with any tread stain or colour.