- Paint - 2, 3, 4 - Brightly painted treads add a punch of color, but by keeping the risers and walls white, the color doesn't overwhelm. The black treads offer a more traditional approach, but still get noticed when you throw in a coordinating rug. For a real wow factor, add a painted runner that seems to beckon you up the stairs.
- Stencils - 5, 6, 7 - For those with a bit more time, try your hand at stencils. The stenciled risers shown in photo 5 are in shades of gray and white, and never repeat the same pattern. It's a bit daring, but with a subdued color palette, it works beautifully. Stenciled numbered stairs have a cottagey feel and scream for little feet to run up them. The contrast of the white painted runner with solid-color stair edges, make the numbers pop. The stairs in photo 7 are stenciled with a pattern that is centered on the step, but travels up both the treads and risers. Basically, you have a stenciled runner! If you have a nice break over the holidays, this would make for a great project!
- Wallpaper - 1, 8, 9 - Wallpapered risers go bold with a purple brocade print and stand out against a rich, contrasting wood tread. Using a bright graphic wallpaper - similar to the cherry-apple red wallpaper from Orla Kiely - is sure to make the stairs the focal point of the room. For a subtler touch, go for a wallpaper like the one in photo 9, a bold print but a muted color scheme.
(Images: 1: The Stories of A to Z, 2: Absolutely Beautiful Things, 3: Domino via Grayson, 4: Apartment Therapy: Boston, 5: Apartment Therapy: San Francisco, 6, 7: Arte Styling, 8: Design Sponge, 9: Apartment Therapy: Chicago)