As an essential features in a house, finding the right modern staircase ideas is an important task. Stairways need to balance both functionality and style. They are often one of the first things visitors see when entering a home and will need to blend with the hallway design to make a real impact on the overall home.
From contemporary wooden stairways to glass floating steps, there are so many modern staircase ideas out there it can be hard to know where to even begin looking so we've done the hard work for you.
No matter if you're renovating an existing staircase, adding a new one to update a dated hallway, or designing from scratch in a new home, we've curated the very best of contemporary stairway designs to help you narrow down your favourite ideas. Take a look below for the very best trends, styles and structures — with a few tips from the experts to get you on your way.
Modern Staircase Ideas for a Stylish Addition
Researching different staircase designs, materials and ideas early on in a project will mean when the time comes to approach suppliers and architects (or getting your hands stuck in on a DIY basis) you will have a clear idea of the finished product which will save both time and money.
"Stairs that are made up of both straight and curved components make for interesting designs, allowing you to shape the ascension to best fit the space, but generally it’s the style of balustrade that makes a big impression," begins Eric Nicholls, managing director of Spiral (opens in new tab).
"With bespoke design, you can be incredibly creative with how you enclose a staircase. Many people opt for glass but currently we are seeing a trend for powder coated steel sheet — often in the ever-popular anthracite grey but also the bright and bold oranges and reds! Steel panels can be laser cut to provide interest in patterns to create light studies."
"Staircases come in all different shapes and sizes, and it often gets overlooked how the layout and design can impact the home," adds Roberta Jervis, senior designer at Neville Johnson.
"For example, straight staircases, often found in smaller hallways, can easily make the space feel cramped with an ill-designed balustrade. Using glass here can create an open-plan aesthetic, allowing light to flood through the hallway and make the space feel and appear bigger.
"Similarly, double winder staircases, where the stairs undergo a half turn before the landing, are a perfect opportunity to use glass, or even a mixture of glass and steel, so that the space doesn’t feel ‘closed off’.
"Larger staircase layouts such as bifurcated stairs with a gallery landing can create a huge impact with a beautiful steel balustrade. Since the area is more open, you can afford to go a little more dramatic in your design to create a stylish focal point in the home."
1. Light Up an Enclosed Stairwell
Enclosed stairwells can be dark and isolated from the rest of the house, so including the right staircase lighting ideas is key.
In an existing home, well-placed wall lights or a dazzling pendant light will make the space feel more comfortable without much intervention, but it's you're undertaking a rewire during a renovation, talk with your electrician about installing LED strips or low spotlights to create a wash over the stair treads.
In a new home, get creative with internal windows, as in this self build which includes narrow internal glazed panels provide glimpses into the main open plan space. The solid bamboo staircase includes colour-changing LED lighting hidden in the handrail and a lightwell above.
2. Use Simple Improvements to Refresh an Existing Staircase
Reviving an existing staircase is a sustainable and cost-effective solution. With a little imagination, a new perspective on wooden staircase ideas can make a world of difference in a hallway or stairwell.
This could be through a new bannister design, a fresh coat of paint or a stylish stair running, as shown in this contemporary design.
The simple palette of a dark, almost black, navy and a natural rug and runner instantly improve what is otherwise a simple stair structure. Finally, the floor-to-ceiling spandrels is a look we're seeing more and more — why not try to replicate for a modern refresh?
3. Create a Floating Glass Staircase
Make an instant statement like self-build's clever timber and glass floating staircase design.
Finished with a modern glass balustrade, the wooden steps to have the illusion of floating.
The simple straight flight has a hidden steel stringer (the housing either side of the stairs) behind the stone-clad plasterboard which supports the whole structure.
4. Add a Small Home Office Under the Stairs
Where space is an issue, eking out the potential of every inch is paramount and with more of us working from home than ever before, the awkward under the stairs can be full of opportunity.
Adding under stair storage ideas for filing papers, books and even printers will ensure at the end of the day a home-worker can close up and walk away feeling as if work and home life is separated.
From tiny fold out desks, freestanding units and fully built-in storage, like this beautiful grey example from Sharps, there is a solution for every small space.
5. Give an Old Staircase a Timeless Makeover
When updating a house, renovating a staircase is often low on the list, but can be incredibly transformative.
This original staircase has been elegantly updated with a calm, confident redesign. Stair runners are making a magnificent comeback and when this grey herringbone material is paired with black steel rods, the space is instantly updated.
"As well as having the potential to completely transform the look of your hallway, a well-designed staircase can also add value to your home," Neville Johnsons's Roberta Jervis comments. "Typically, the stairs are the first thing we see when we enter a home, so think of the impact a stunning staircase can have on potential buyers.
“With a staircase renovation, the turnaround is remarkably quick, if the stairs are structurally sound, simply re-cladding the treads and replacing the cosmetic components can completely change the aesthetic of your staircase. With very little fuss and no building work!”
6. Decorate a Staircase with Different Materials
A staircase is the perfect spot to experiment with different internal cladding ideas. This is especially true if it features in a dining or living room as the understated used of a new material will bring an extra dimension to a room design.
Stairway wall ideas like this can be retrofitted DIY using timber battens, plywood sheets or even acoustic panelling that absorbs sounds in a busy open plan space.
The hallway wall and side of this staircase are clad in cork to create a sunning optical illusion, as the staircase essentially disappears from view when you're standing in the kitchen.
7. Create a Welcoming First Impression by Mixing Materials
Staircases play an important part in our homes — often greeting visitors at the door and welcoming tired family members to bed. So be sure to set the tone for your home by creating a warm interior scheme in the hallway.
This can be through the use of colour, wall panelling or interior cladding or clever layering of materials through the stairway and into the hallway design.
Simple yet inviting, this steel design has been finished with ash on the floor and treads.
8. Paint Stairs in Bright Tones
Give an existing staircase a new lease of life by including painted stairs ideas.
A fresh colour can elevate a dark and dated hallway, making it feel bright and welcoming. Blues, mid greys and greens in invite a calmer environment while yellows and even pinks will perk up anyones day after coming home.
The modern, green of this stairway is paired with a dark, practical flooring in this home to create definition in the bright hallway.
9. Create a Gallery Wall for a Personalised Stairwell
This staircase up to a converted loft ticks all the boxes — a rooflight to flood the lower landings with light, an eclectic selection of family photos on the walls and a dark, restored staircase that contrasts wonderfully with the statement pendant.
These are all simple (and cheap!) tricks that can be applied to any loft conversion stairs but together the impact is undeniable.
10. Open Up a Dark, Enclosed Staircase
Where an enclosed stairway is unavoidable, a great staircase idea is to lead down into an open plan space to enhance the idea of moving between private and public spaces — but be sure to check the building regulations before making any changes!
Including a turn in this staircase creates an inviting environment and incorporates the staircase into the design of the house, rather than as an after-thought.
11. Keep Stairway Costs Down with Budget-Friendly Ideas
Utilising a simple pine staircase is a cost-effective option but they're also fantastic as they offer the chance to be customised for a more bespoke feel. They can either be painted, have the right types of carpet fitted or, as here, have a contemporary stair runner up the centre.
Stair runners have recently come back in vogue and is inspiring lovely modern twists on the classic look.
12. Add Some Drama with a Bold Staircase
Unleash your inner DIY guru by learning how to paint stairs and going bold with a dark and dramatic staircase. Black, dark grey and deep navy can all make a dated staircase feel sophisticated when contrasted with wood tones and white accent features.
If you're not confident 'colour drenching' – where every element is painted the same colour, as here – consider simply painting the staircase skirting with a contracting colour, or creating depths of tones with complementing shades.
13. Coordinate with Tiled Risers
Complement a new colour choice by adding pattered tiles to the risers. Not only will this protect the staircase from damage as people shuffle up stairs, but also gives a visual impact for users.
Just as you would when looking at how to tile a wall, make the correct preparation when tiling stairs — otherwise the effect won't be a neat and tidy as required.
For a simpler option, look for adhesive tile patterns that don't require any strenuous DIY and can simply be removed if the style no longer works for you.
14. Combine Different Textures for Instant Impact
Utilise exposed brick in a stairwell design to break up long expanses of plastered wall and to create a transition from the hallway to landing.
This steel staircase's balustrades have been painted in a French Grey which is continued around the door linings and skirting boards throughout the floorplan — a simple but effective way of creating a coherent home.
15. Add Extra Details to Make a Hallways and Staircase Special
For staircases near a front entrance hallway, blend together the living and sleeping areas, as well as functioning a porch, by choosing complementing materials, lighting and how the spandrel - space under the stairs – will be used.
Here, light-coloured decoration is matched with clever lighting design such as downlights and accent lighting across the treads for an inviting approach while the practical design underneath offers a space for outdoorware.
16. Maximise Potential of a Budget Staircase
While staircases can be as expensive as you choose, that doesn't mean all designs have to cost the earth. Keeping the plan simple can create some stylish and striking results, as this contemporary glass and timber unit shows.
The homeowners bought an inexpensive pine staircase and whitewashed it before fitting a 15mm toughened glass balustrade themselves.
17. Decorate a Staircase with Cosy Carpet
A key decision to make when looking at a wooden staircase is whether you will carpet the steps or leave the timber on show.
Warm underfoot, there are infinite choices in different types of carpet you can choose, so ensure you take care to pick on that can handle heavy foot traffic (as well as looking beautiful, of course).
18. Zone Open-Plan Spaces with Contemporary Stairways
Open plan living is more popular than ever and it's important to get function 'zones' like a snug, kitchen or home working area right. One way to divide a large space is to use contemporary staircase ideas to create visual partitions.
This stunning steel staircase highlights the double-height void in the centre of this open plan home. It has been painted in the same RAL shade as the windows and divides the more intimate snug – out of shot around the corner – from the modern kitchen and dining area.
19. Create a Uniform Look with Matching Balustrades
The perfect blend between Scandinavian and industrial styles, this staircase and hallway design works in complete harmony.
Plus, including great landing ideas like a hanging egg chair gives purpose to the often wasted space.
20. Choose Glass Staircase for a Light and Open Entryway
Avoid feeling cramped in and claustrophobic by using glass to let light filter into hallways and landings.
Replacing a traditional design in this modern farmhouse, this wooden staircase features open treads and a glass balustrade so natural light from the rooflight above and glass panels by the front door can flood the entryway.
21. Include a Pattern to Set Off a Modern Staircase
Strong contemporary materials such as concrete, natural wood or steel can sit confidently alongside interestingly pattered types of flooring, such as carpets or bright tiles.
Choosing a more daring pattern for well-considered flooring will add instant personality and create a space full of fun and intrigue.
22. Make a Modern Staircase the Focal Feature in a Room
If your staircase will reside in an open plan area, why not make it an architectural feature in it's own right?
This staircase both adds a statement feature in this open-plan space as well as cleverly dividing it to create a cosier area for watching TV with vertical spindles.
23. Keep Staircase Decorating Ideas Timeless
A simple, straight-forward design, this staircase is elegant and will most definitely stand the test of time.
Treasured memories can be showcased on a gallery wall, while DIY decorating means the space can always be refreshed when in need of an update by painting a wall.
24. Make a Statement Staircase with Pops of Colour
Staircases are often at the front of our homes as we open the front door, so choosing a unique decorating style or design for a new staircase makes immediate impact on guests.
Combining favourite stairway styles with beautiful hallway ideas that have a bit of fun with colour or pattern makes a home feel welcoming and can bring a smile to your face when bringing in the shopping, or going to bed.
Bright staircase ideas can include powder-coated steel, a pop of colour on a wooden balustrade or contrasting a strong hue on the walls with a neutral staircase for a warm welcome— this pink stairwell certainly does the job!
25. Make an Impact with an Architectural Feature
Incorporating architectural details when designing a modern staircase is a wonderful idea to make any home feel special. Here, elongated sapele spindles and internal glazing create a stunning throughview to the garden while a feature wall draws the eye upstairs.
Other small forward-thinking details which make a huge impact on the overall finish could choose shadow gaps instead of skirting boards, feature pendant or chandelier lighting, a recessed handrail and a complementary mix of materials.
26. Give an Old Staircase a Timeless Makeover
As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Wooden staircases can last decades if properly cared for or renovated.
Saving an old staircase is an achievable DIY task, and it can become a statement piece in a renovation, as this pared-back cottage reno goes to show.
27. Add Atmospheric Lighting to a Floating Staircase
Adding LED strip lighting under each stair tread in floating staircases with a glass balustrade gives a sleek and polished impression.
Planning your staircase design ideas in conjunction with designing your lighting system in any project will provide cohesive finish.
28. Modern Glass Staircases are Great in Open-plan Layouts
The open plan kitchen layout is key for the small floorplan of this self build.
The homeowners opted for glass balustrades so that the house had clear views from the entrance hall through to the rear garden.
29. Use Metal to Create an Industrial Theme
If you’re renovating a house or converting an existing property, reflecting the building’s heritage through similar materials is a great way to capture an authentic build finish.
This curved metal staircase in a converted water tower carefully navigates the elevation’s windows while expertly mirroring their dramatic arched steel-frames.
30. Give a U-shaped Staircase a Purpose
This oak and glass U-shaped staircase with half-landing creates an enviable spot to relax in and makes the most of a double-height space before leading up to the mezzanine area.
The oak handrail at the top matches the characterful flooring while the glass balustrade also means the room isn't divided up or interrupted.
31. Incorporate Exposed Brick in an Enclosed Staircase for Extra Character
An exposed brick staircase can work wonders when designing for a new home or building an extension. Bursting with charm when paired with an exposed oak frame, this new build’s staircase gives the illusion of being a period property.
32. Install a Black Steel Staircase for a Contemporary Finish
Light, bright and airy, this room is the perfect blend between traditional materials and modern styling, in no doubt thanks to the handleless kitchen paired with the black steel staircase.
33. Light Up a Glass and Metal Staircase
A good lighting design can transform any simple staircase, as this example shows effortlessly. Alternating recessed LED floorwashers illuminate the treads beautifully while the glass balustrade lets the warm light flow into the main dining area.
Concealing LED lights under each step of an open tread staircase also creates a cost-effective yet etherial appearance.
34. Keep it Classic with a White Wood Staircase
This white wood staircase design is anything but boring when paired with an on-trend shade of blush pink and rustic barn doors.
35. Transform a Victorian Terrace Staircase with a Modern Treatment
Update a tired terrace staircase by painting in a contemporary shade of blue and adding an understated yet stunning grey runner.
The perfect mix of traditional and modern, this home utilises the staircase design and smart small hallway ideas to showcase everything that is special about the terrace, while keeping it rooted in contemporary styles.
36. Blend Old and New Ideas for a Unique Staircase
This industrial glass and metal staircase is just one incredible addition that saved this modern home that was once a Georgian ruin. The original exterior wall and the glass balustrade create a fabulous contrast between restored building and the contemporary additions.
37. Keep Costs Down by Renovating an Existing Staircase
Unless there is something physically wrong with a staircase during a renovation project, many simply need some attention and can be rejuvenated by some TLC.
Taking the time to find out how to save an old staircase could have both time and month, while also giving the materials greater longevity.
This pared-back design is made all the more interesting by the dark stained wood handrail which draws the eye invitingly upstairs.
38. Achieve a Timeless Look with a Solid Oak and Glass Staircase
Character in modern homes is difficult to come by so choosing something as simple yet elegant as a solid oak staircase with glass balustrade can never go wrong.
The oak frame of this self build is combined with clean lines and a neutral palette of the staircase in the open plan living space for the perfect blend between contemporary and traditional.
39. Make a Statement with a Pendant Light in a Staircase
Add a contemporary light fitting to instantly create wow-factor in a stairway.
This bespoke staircase revolves around the modern chandelier in this home, creating a focal feature that draws the eye up through the triple-height space.
40. Factor Storage into Your Staircase Design
Compact shouldn’t be a negative word when dealing with spaces in small houses. Designing a staircase that is discrete yet thoughtfully decorated can be essential to ensure space is saved rather than wasted.
This tiny home of just 42m2 utilises smooth birch plywood timber cladding to hide away under-stair storage while a studwall between the staircase and the front door provides a lobby space, a coat rack and shallow drawers.
41. Brighten Up an Enclosed Staircase with a Skylight
Introducing natural light into your staircase design is a great idea for small spaces or loft conversions. Due to Building Regulations a covered staircase might be required so creating a transition area which feels light and airy is paramount.
42. Let Timber Take the Lead
The best modern staircase design let the materials speak for themselves — as this walnut structure demonstrates.
The muted green of the front door and the polished concrete floors makes every element in this hallway sing.
43. Add a Modern Central Staircase
This central spiral staircase was designed for the homeowners to transition from the quirky open plan living space (below) to the more rustic basement floor.
Thick treads made from ash are stacked to hide the usually visible central column which supports the structure.
44. Open Up with a Glass Balustrade
While this terrace house was renovated, the homeowners chose to open up the previously enclosed and dark staircase. The replaced it with a timber and glass structure which leads right to the open-plan living space.
The glass baluster doesn't feature a handrail (Building Regulations in England don't require one), making the staircase less visible.
45. Think Outside the Box to Work to a Budget
This steel and timber staircase was designed by the homeowner using CAD software. The ply balustrades were installed as a cost-saving measure while he raises funds for a laser-cut metal profile in the future.
46. Contrast Wood and Metal for a Trendy Staircase Design
Scandinavian-inspired pale woods matched with matt black finishes is one of the most popular styles in recent years.
Here, simple and narrow balusters are beautifully complimented by oak treads and a stunning continuous handrail.
47. Go Bold for an Industrial Staircase Outdoors
This bespoke steel staircase was designed to provide access from the open-plan living spaces down to the sleeping areas in the basement, while creating an industrial finish.
The open riser and mesh sheet balustrade design allows plenty of light in to make the downstairs spaces feel brighter.
48. Put a Modern Take on a Spiral Staircase
The spiral staircase in this renovated Victorian school house was modernised with a contemporary sage green.
The rejuvenated structure creates the perfect bridge between the history of the property and the it's new purpose to suit a modern family lifestyle.
49. Make a Modern Staircase the Centre of Attention
Leading gracefully down from a the new mezzanine area, the staircases either side of the kitchen area truly make an impact in this contemporary-styled barn conversion.
Plus, the spandrel (the triangular space under the stairs) has been incorporated into the kitchen as extra storage.
50. Add a Show-Stopping Steel and Wood Stairwell
When designing this kitchen extension to a terrace property, Merrett Houmøller Architects (opens in new tab) kept a simple pallet of materials throughout the spaces.
The result is a dramatic black steel staircase which takes centre-stage in the double-height space.
51. Use a Bold Colour on a Modern Staircase
The simple glass and white painted timber staircase of this barn conversion has been accompanied by on-trend bold colours and styles to really make the feature come alive.
52. Complete a Contemporary Staircase with Finishing Touches
Floor-to-ceiling glazing and concealed lighting make this staircase really stand out.
53. Create an Air of Elegance with a Modern Staircase
When building an extension to their cottage in the Cotswolds, the homeowners decided to relocate their old staircase.
Making the most of their new vaulted ceiling, the charming oak stairway now matches the kitchen (and includes valuable storage) while a mural adds delicately detailed decoration.
54. Get Creative to Make a Modern Staircase Work Harder
Oversized balustrades, a gentle winder design and a deep navy steel structure mean this staircase packs a punch.
Plus, freestanding, colourful under stair storage below with a DIY peg board creates a a handy place to kick off coats before heading upstairs.
Assistant Editor Amy began working for Homebuilding & Renovating in 2018. She has an interest in sustainable building methods and always has her eye on the latest design ideas. Amy has interviewed countless self builders, renovators and extenders about their experiences for Homebuilding & Renovating magazine. She is currently renovating a mid-century home, together with her partner, on a DIY basis, and has recently fitted her own kitchen.
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