Statement Staircases Part One: 6 Elevating Design Trends for 2022

Brian Hogan
Mar 24, 2022 8:30:00 AM

The staircase is a transitional space; a functional architectural element that allows you to move between floors in a storied home. But stairs aren’t just a utilitarian means of ascension and descension; these days, the staircase can be a statement-making design element that draws the eye, sets the tone, or even steals the show.

Grand L/U-Shaped Staircase opening to upper loft space, stained rails with painted white spindles and a carpet runner, transitional design

Let’s explore 6 inspiring staircase design trends for 2022 that can transform your foyer and its adjoining spaces, whether you’re thinking of renovating your home or you’re getting ready to build a new house from scratch.

Staircase Design 

Like all fundamental interior and architectural elements, staircase style tends to fall into one of three general categories on the design spectrum — traditional, modern, or a transitional blend of the two. 

On one end of the spectrum, there’s the traditional staircase: The kind that usually has wooden steps and risers and classically elegant wooden balusters and spindles supporting a smooth and substantial wooden handrail. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the ultra-modern staircase: The kind that usually floats through space with steps but no risers; if it has a railing at all, the balusters and spindles are as sparse and streamlined as the handrail they support. 

The transitional staircase sits in the middle of the spectrum, where it artfully combines traditional and modern elements to create a fresh aesthetic. Think traditional steps and risers with contemporary-style railing, or modern floating stairs made from traditional materials. 

Spiral metal modern staircase with horizontal rails and spindles in a loft condo overlooking water.

No matter which basic staircase style you’re working with, one of the following design trends is sure to take it to the next level: 

Steps and Risers 

Steps and risers are the main event of most staircases (except for the ones that showcase only the steps, sans risers). Dress them up or dress them down, just make them stand out.

1. Monochromatic aesthetic

Most conventional stairs have natural wood steps and neutral painted risers that match the rest of the trim in the entryway. For an unexpected twist on this basic, muted scheme, forego the painted risers and try going totally monochromatic from bottom to top, with the same bare or stained wood from step to riser. 

2. Riser treatments

Unique riser treatments can transform simple steps into a statement-making staircase. There are endless ways to style your risers — paint them a bright, bold, or interesting color, cover them in mosaics or hand-painted tiles, or even turn a few of them into storage drawers

3. Stand-out runners

Warmer, quieter, and surer underfoot than solid-surface wood, stone, or metal steps, carpet runners are one of the easiest ways to enliven a staircase (as well as make it safer). From neutral, highly textural carpets and whimsically patterned options to carpets with a top-to-bottom ombre color scheme, runners can make this transitional space shine. 

Banisters and Railings

Banisters, balusters, spindles, and handrails are so much more than a safety feature; they’re a major design opportunity. Go traditional or go modern, just make sure they stand out.  

4. Horizontal spindles 

Vertical spindles may be classic, but horizontal spindles are unforgettable. Although they can seem like a very modern choice, horizontal spindles can use various materials and design styles to fit into more traditional schemes, too. You can also opt to forego spindles altogether, supporting your banister with a sculptural masterpiece like a hand-forged iron parapet or custom fretwork.

Modern straight staircase with wood and metal rails and a horizontal glass wall

5. A mix of materials

More and more, modern staircases are doing away with conventional, stand-alone banisters and using a mix of materials to create half-walls along open stair sides. Think clear tempered glass or fiberglass staircase borders with metal railing, or crisp, minimalist drywall borders with a boldly painted handrail.  

6. Beautiful balusters   

A baluster doesn’t have to be heavily carved or ornate, but never underestimate the aesthetic contribution of a beautiful baluster. The baluster is like a welcoming sentry at the entrance of a staircase; choose one that looks the part, creates visual interest, and enhances your space.    

Staircase Potential 

Your staircase is full of possibilities, and our team can help you realize its potential. Next week, we’ll explore 6 more staircase design trends for 2022 when we cover staircase walls and landings along with unexpected alcoves and hidden storage.   

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