Dressing up staircases

Last Updated 29 July 2010, 10:24 IST

When it comes to home décor, the stairway is the last area to receive any attention. However, with a splash of creativity, it can be turned into the focal point of a room. It sure is an important area, considering that it generally runs off a living room and should be accorded priority.

Dressing up staircases can be an interesting and challenging project, especially since the options available are aplenty. When it comes to staircases, care should be taken to ensure that its design complements the theme of the house. Since such staircases are in view and are more open, subtle aesthetic elements go a long way in adding charm to an otherwise sedate area.

The wall around the staircase plays a very important role in the dressing up a stairway. If the walls are neutral, then the stairs can be in bright and bold hues and vice versa. The bare wall adjoining the staircase also allows for a lot of creativity. It can be turned into a little art gallery by displaying small paintings, framed drawings and photographs.

Fixed at an ideal height, these pieces of art help beautify the staircase. Sometimes, when the staircase is in a living room that is not large enough, or in a narrow hallway, an illusion of space can be created by fixing framed mirrors along the wall adjoining the staircase.

Once the designs for the wall has been done, attention must be paid to railings. They should be easy to grasp and at a height that’s just right. The material used for the railings should either be of wood or metal as they are easy to clean and non-slippery. If it is wooden, carvings can also be made on it, adding a classy look to the overall décor of the house. However, it is best to avoid covering up the space below the railing as it can make the staircase seem narrow. The more open it is, the better it is for the staircase.

Practical and beautiful

When it comes to the material used for the staircase, popular options are marble, granite or wood. While marble and granite look great, they can be unsafe as they are slippery, especially after repeated use. However, there are ways and means of overcoming this problem. Currently, wood is the safest option available and looks great too.

Irrespective of the material used, the staircase can be made to look spectacular in a variety of ways. Painting the treads in one colour and the vertical riser in a contrasting colour gives the stairs great appeal. Another creative way of dressing up stairs is by matching the colour of the risers with the wall adjoining it while painting the treads in a darker shade.

This decoration is not only visually pleasing but also creates an illusion of floating steps, especially if the risers are in white and the treads in black. Another way of creating a splendid staircase is by covering the risers with wallpaper and leaving the treads bare.
However, if you are looking at staircases solely from a utilitarian aspect and if safety is your major concern, do not fret. These issues can be addressed easily without having to compromise on beauty and quality. An easy way to avoid a slippery floor is to use carpet runners. Available in a variety of fresh colours, style and design, carpet runners can make staircases warm and firm. They also act as noise absorbers on wooden staircases and are easy to maintain too.

A recent trade fair on home interiors featured staircases in glass. Though these glass staircases looked exotic and seemed to facilitate the free flow of light and air between the steps, they are for visual appeal only.

While dressing up stairways, lighting is an important element that cannot be overlooked. A stairway should be well-lit at all times of the day. Skylights can be created to bring in optimum lighting during the day. Care should be taken to ensure that all light fixtures near the staircase are easily accessible so that bulbs can be changed without much hassle.

With increasing space crunch in most urban homes today, staircases have been found to perform multiple functions. They can double up as book shelves and storage drawers too. Such staircases are generally away from the living room. A popular trend nowadays is to line the walls of the staircase with books and using risers as storage drawers. Innovative and stylish space-saving solutions definitely are worth considering.

(Published 29 July 2010, 10:22 IST)

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