Stairway color ideas

The stairway presents some interesting challenges to the interior decorator. It's sometimes dark, and depending on how high the ceilings are in the area, can present places that are difficult to reach. If you have this problem, take heart. The colour you choose for this area can help alleviate some of the problems presented by the stairway. Additionally, because of the interesting shape of the stairway, there's room to experiment with different techniques to enhance the decorative elements on the stairs.

Black and White

If your stairway is open in front from the floor of the foyer to the top of the stairs, with only the banister providing a visual "wall," choosing a basic black and white colour scheme will enhance the dramatic potential of this area. Paint the sides and fronts of the stairs white. Add black to the banister and to the tops of the stairs. This set up allows you to bring in and change colour elements throughout the year as the season dictates, such as hanging up an orange, red and yellow decorative swag during the Thanksgiving holiday; however, when the season is over, this colour combination still looks great on its own.

Accent Wall

Sometimes a striking colour like red or cobalt blue isn't quite as striking when it's the only colour you add to your stairway. However, adding a contrasting colour like honey yellow makes all the difference, because it provides a contrast to these vibrant colours. To introduce an element like this in your stairway, paint the back wall going up the stairs a colour that contrasts with the colour you've featured on the stairs and on the walls in the foyer leading up to the stairs. The juxtaposition of the two different colours standing side by side will make your vibrant colour seem more vibrant without adding anything else to the area. If you choose a light colour like yellow for the accent wall, you'll also lighten up the area heading up the stairs, because the light colour will reflect the light from the overhead lights.


The addition of colour to your stairway can come in small doses. Stencilling your stairs and the banister area allows you to introduce colour as well as pattern to the stairway. Stencils of a different colour than what you've featured on the stairs allows you to bring together the various colours from your chosen colour scheme. Choose just one colour to stencil your stairway for a subtle look, or select a variety of colours for a bolder look.

Other Color Elements

Although painting may present the most obvious way to bring colour elements to your stairway, it doesn't represent the only option. When you're looking for decorative elements for your stairway, keep a sharp eye out for a beautiful rug for the stairs, boldly coloured artwork for the landing wall and candle sconces with lamps featuring your accent colours. These elements help your decor look complete, bring additional light to the area and tie in the visual elements from the foyer with the decorative elements on the stairway.

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About the Author

Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.