Social climber: stairs can be more than just a way to change floors

This post is part of a series of tips on interior design and working with an interior designer.

Sorry for the gap in posts – September for the interior design world brings not only London Design Festival, but the start of what’s known as ‘silly season’.  Not only does everyone comes back from their summer holidays with plans to change their home in time for Christmas, but everyone whose house purchase started in the spring has finally got their hands on the keys and, you guessed it, wants to completely gut it and redecorate before the turkey’s on the table.  Things are kind of busy, shall we say.  But I am not complaining, it’s a nice problem to have.  And I have learned that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a few posts lined up ready to go rather than writing them on the same day as they’re published…

Anyway.  Last time we were talking tips, we were discussing entrance halls.  Let’s continue on that theme and talk about stairs.  If you have more than one level in your home, they’re kind of essential.  So why not make a feature of them?

Living etc, Oct 12

Pantone risers, Living etc, Oct 12

Living etc, Feb 08

Bordered runner, Living etc, Feb 08

Rise up

If you don’t have carpet or a runner, and you do have risers (the vertical bits), how about treating them differently. You could paint them different shades, tile them or wallpaper them with offcuts. Protect wallpaper with some kind of varnish to make it easier to clean the scuffs.

Shut up

However, don’t forget that carpet and runners deaden sound – if you don’t want to hear people walking up and down the stairs, it’s best to soften those treads with a little wool.

Tidy up

How about integrated storage / bookshelves? You can do this under the stairs, or around, or a combination of both. Take a look at these images for ideas.

Living etc, Oct 12

Living etc, Oct 12

Living etc, May 07

Living etc, May 07

Light up

Stairs 1

The Lighting Bible, p182

If you’re building new or carrying out major structural work, can you get some natural light in there somewhere, even if it’s just a skylight or a sunpipe (have you seen these? Very clever!). It will make a great difference. For lighting, stair lights are both practical and easy on the eye in the middle of the night when you’re stumbling about in the dark. Or the not so dark if they’re properly lit, especially if they come on with a motion sensor.

Close up

Unfortunately, building regulations now preclude open treads with a gap greater than 100mm and open sides. But you can achieve similar looks with glass and narrow wires.

Grand Designs, Feb 09

Grand Designs, Feb 09

House & Garden, Jun 09

House & Garden, Jun 09


Was this useful?  Do you have any ideas to add?  Let me know in the comments!

Coming soon – specific tips for individual rooms, lighting, tips on how to use colour, choose floorings, wall coverings, paint…

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer in this series, leave a comment or send a message via the website – I’d be delighted to help!

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One Response to Social climber: stairs can be more than just a way to change floors

  1. Dianne 12 October 2013 at 01:14 #

    I love stairs and think they are undervalued when redecorating. This article gives some great ideas on how you could make them come alive. My favourite is the bordered runner.

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