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It seems like staircases only get love during the holidays – little pumpkins for Halloween, garland and bows for Christmas, maybe a few Easter baskets in April. But for the rest of the year they’re just an uninspiring way to get from one floor to another. I’m here to argue in favor of year-round stair decor. Here are 10 simple ways to step up your stair game (mhm, you see what I did there?) without major construction.

Cousins Undercover makeover staircase with wallpaper and accent wall
1. Create an accent wall: Paint a bold color and construct a gallery of knick-knacks and photos on the wall behind the stairs, like HGTV’s John Colaneri and Anthony Carrino did to these stairs on Cousins Undercover.

Cousins Undercover apply birch tree wallpaper to stair risers
2. Wallpaper the risers: Apply a fun wallpaper to the risers to add visual interest to otherwise boring stairs. Go for paper with an interesting pattern in a neutral color palette to avoid going overboard.

Entryway Stairs with a runner
3. Add a runner: Believe it or not, you can do this yourself. Take measurements, choose a runner style and grab your staple gun to give your stairway a new look in a few hours.

Brian Flynn painted staircase
4. Or paint a faux one: If you’re not too keen on installing a carpeted runner, a faux runner is a cheap and more customizable alternative. Pick out your favorite accent colors and use painter’s tape with treated edges for nice clean lines.

Upcycle wooden crates to create storage under the stairs
5. Fill wasted space: There’s usually a ton of untapped potential for storage under staircases. Try upcycling old wooden crates into under-the-stairs shelving or create an alcove if you’re looking for a bigger project.

Painted and stenciled stairs with a slide from HGTV's Home By NovagratzHGTV’s Home By Novogratz

6. Use stencils: Paint your family’s favorite words or phrases onto the risers using stencils you can buy online or at most craft stores. Super fun attached slide optional.

Wallpaper stairway on HGTV's Home By NovagratzHGTV’s Home By Novogratz

7. Wallpaper the outside wall: If your stairs are enclosed, hang paper on the exterior wall to help them feel like part of the space. Combine this tip with #4 and incorporate the colors of your faux runner into the wallpaper.

Window shutter railing by Kathleen PerkinsDesigner Kathleen Perkins

8. Install unconventional railings: Comb through the flea market for pieces that could make unique alternatives to traditional hand rails, like these window shutter railings. If your style is a little more nautical, rope railings are an easy DIY gaining popularity outside of beach houses.

Mondrian style DIY gate for staircases

9. Dress up the gate: If you have to have a gate to keep kids and pets off the stairs, it may as well be part of the decor. Create an art-inspired piece that gets the job done while creating a focal point at the top or the bottom of the stairs.

Anthony Carrino sitting on ombre stairs from HGTV's Cousins UndercoverHGTV’s Cousins Undercover

10. Go ombre: Ombre isn’t just for hair and clothes – it’s popping up on staircases too. Start with a base color and add a touch of white paint each time you move up a riser for this cool fading effect. Sexy Anthony Carrino not included.

What will you do to take your staircase to the next level?


DIY, Home Improvement

49 Responses

  1. Pam Alexander says:

    I did the hombre effect on my lower staircase risers…the room they lead into is gray and black( gray walls, black slate fireplace and black paneling ) so I went from black at the bottom to a light gray at the top…looks great and really makes a stylish statement …now to figure out what to do to top set of stairs( I have a split level home)…maybe just sand and redo the poly coat so they shine like new again…"?"

    • Pam says:

      Maybe paint the risers a glossy color and sand and redo the poly coat on top. Would black, gray or white work on the second level staircase? It would depend on the stain color as to which paint color to pick. I'm not a fan of warm wood tones with cool grays.

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