25 creative ways to upgrade your staircase

You can change out pillows and invest in new furniture, but your stairs are a set thing, right? Not quite. You may not be able to move stairs or rip them out entirely, but you can get creative about your stair design.

Changing up your staircase can be one way to upgrade the look of your home. If you aren’t sure how to accomplish this, we’ve got 25 ideas ranging from subtle to dramatic to help you figure it out.

fancy staircase
Upgrading your staircase

Some of the projects here take just a few minutes while others are more involved, but all of them will refresh your stair space and give your stairs a chance to shine as part of your decor and not just a forgotten transition.

1. Add fabric

Stair runners or stair rugs can both upgrade the look of your stairs and provide you with a comfy place to put your feet. The trick is to use a sticky back, whether it’s a pad or a simple glue product that’s safe for stairs. You’ll want to protect your stairs and prevent falls by keeping that fabric addition secure. Remodelaholic shares a fun and unique way of using fabric on your staircase, and it wasn’t expensive at all.

2. Use a stencil

If the thought of fabric isn’t appealing, a simple stencil can accomplish the look of a runner without the hassle of securing fabric. Stencils allow you to create repeating patterns on each of your stairs for a continuous design look without trouble. Choose a stencil that fits your home’s decor. Bold colors make bold statements, but don’t underestimate the power of a subtle color change when you look at the whole staircase together.

3. Add underside color

Painting the risers gives you two views — one when you see the natural wood going down the stairs and another when you look at the color going up. Whether you choose subtle colors such as going from white to gray, or you paint something like a rainbow, it’s a significant refresh.

painted staircase steps
Getty Images

4. Paint the steps

If your steps aren’t that attractive in the first place, you can use paint colors to create uniformity and upgrade the style of the steps themselves. Sometimes, a fresh coat of white paint can open up space — even when it’s just the stairs.

5. Add candles

Electric ones that is. Get small electric candles that work on a timer and place them between the banister rods. At night, they’ll begin to glow and give your staircase a magical feeling with little effort (and no fires).

6. Use baskets

If you’ve got a wide-enough staircase, small baskets on the first few steps at floor level can help wrangle toys and other belongings. Use the baskets to help other family members remember to return things to their rooms, for example. Place baskets against the wall so that people can reach the banister for safety coming up and down.

7. Build in storage

If you’re doing a remodel, adding storage underneath the stairs can help alleviate issues in small spaces. Cut between the studs on one side of the staircase to expose ingenious places for open shelving or replace a fixed stair board with hinge-style options for hidden storage right in your staircase.

8. Paint the wall

Painting the wall behind your staircase creates a dramatic change for that transition. Be bold and paint the wall and stairs the same color for a dramatic focal point.

9. Add a gallery

One of the best places for a gallery wall is the staircase. Use this area to showcase some of your favorite art or those family photos you love.

10. Change the lighting

Take out that boring light fixture and replace it with one that makes a statement. You’ll be amazed at what a sculptural or dramatic light fixture can do to change that space.

11. Add outside light

If your staircase is against an outside wall, consider adding a window or skylight to the space. It makes a closed-off area feel expansive.

12. Restore the wood

If you have some time and beautiful wood grain, gently refinishing the stairs to restore their natural wood is well worth it. Stairs are often one of the best pieces of craftsmanship in your home. Highlight it.

13. Accent an L-shape

L-Shaped staircases can transform just by changing out what’s in the corner. Use a plant in summer for something fresh. Add a small tree for holiday cheer. The possibilities are fast and endless.

14. Make a home office

If you have a storage room under your stairs, consider opening it up to make a small home office. Remove the doors and parts of the wall (if safe) to reveal space for a small desk and wall space for organization.

15. Change the handrails

Another dramatic change, altering the handrails can be a big statement. A simple coat of paint can change the look in a weekend, or installing something entirely new could be just the update you’ve been looking for. “Changing up the look of your wood stairs can be as simple as picking a new railing design or switching out the posts for something a little different,” says Woodstairs.com.

16. Use decals

Decals are a quick way to add quirky personality to your stairwell that you can change out regularly. Holiday options get you in the mood while funny sayings or even simple numbers give you a quick update.

17. Invest in wallpaper

If you don’t trust your painting skills, adding wallpaper to stair risers, the wall, or even both can provide enough personality to transform the staircase. Choose something bold, coordinating patterns, or go for one big design choice. Or wallpaper the side of the staircase for an instant mural.

18. Create statements with washi tape

If you want something a little more unexpected, Washi tape can help you. Lay it down like a waterfall, use horizontal stripes, or decorate the risers.

19. Add LED lighting

Stairs can be hard to see, but with simple LED lighting strips, you can make sure stairs are safe. Add down the wall for a movie theater effect or place underneath, so stairs seem to float.

20. Build a bike rack

Exposed stairs are the perfect place to store bikes indoors without leaving them for you to trip over. They’re aesthetically pleasing and functional.

21. Take a chance with chalkboard paint

Have some little artists in your space? Encourage their (or your) creativity with chalkboard stair risers. It’s always changing and always fun. Bob Vila has several suggestions along with a chalkboard painted staircase.

22. Consider height

For a bold statement, take out your traditional railings and replace with rails that extend to the ceiling. Or knock out the wall enclosing your staircase and do the same. Open the space while keeping it safe.

plants on staircase
Getty Images

23. Add plants

If your staircase gets enough light, add small planters in between banister rails for a lush, green look that cleans your air. Add fake plants for a low-maintenance option. Balcony Garden Web states, “Growing spilling plants on individual stairs will add more appeal and will also cover as they’ll drop down!”

24. Change to tile

Tiling either the riser or the staircase gives you a new look without worrying about chipped paint or frayed runners. Tile is meant to last.

25. Utilize cladding

ESB Flooring explains,”Cladding is the process which consists in covering an existing structure with a new material, thus creating a totally new look without the need to change the original form. In construction, this term is used to denote the process of applying one material over another.” You don’t need to tear out the staircase. Cladding goes right over your stairs or risers (or both) for a completely redesigned staircase.

Update your staircase

Don’t leave this often-forgotten transition piece forgotten! It can transform the look of your home and provide a design focal point no matter where it’s located. Make a subtle change or go big — the results will be worth it!

Editors' Recommendations