Daring Staircases: Paint, Stencils, & Wallpaper

I'm currently debating about what to do with my stairs. Ok, I've been pondering this for two years and it's way overdue for me to finish them. The new wood flooring doesn't exactly match the old wood staircase, and I originally planned to paint them. But lately, I've seen a whole crop of fresh ideas out there that has me leaning in other directions.

Photos: From left to right


  • 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)