Ideas for Decorating Stair Rails

Written by kristen hamlin
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Ideas for Decorating Stair Rails
Holiday garlands are just one way to decorate your stair rails. (Dylan Ellis/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

When you're decorating a living room or foyer, the walls, floors and windows tend to get all of the attention. You'll spend hours picking out paint colours, fabrics and rugs, but when it comes to the stair rails, they often get overlooked. However, just because something is there for safety doesn't mean it has to be boring or ugly. Some simple decor ideas will add interest without detracting from the rail's purpose.


Garlands are ideal for decorating your stair rail -- and you aren't limited to using evergreen garlands around the holidays. While a pine branch garland looks festive at the holidays, especially when adorned with stockings or tree ornaments, but try switching out your garlands with the season.

In the spring, wrap a garland made with faux forsythias around the banister and add small, decorate wooden eggs to random branches for a twist on and Easter egg tree. In the summer, use a rose or wild flower garden, or hang patriotic bunting to celebrate Independence Day. In the fall, a garland of sunflowers or colourful leaves is appropriate for the season and adds some colour and texture to the stair rail.


Add a little sparkle and shine to the room by decorating your stair rail with lights. Wrap a cord of small, white twinkle lights around the banister, or go for a more subtle approach with a length of fibre optic lights along the underside of the rail. To keep the lighting subtle, choose lights that have a cord colour that blends with the stair rail, or incorporate the lights into a garland of greenery or flowers to disguise the cord.


Sometimes, decorating your stair rails doesn't require adding anything but a new coat of paint. Changing the colour of the rails and spindles, or adding a faux finish, turns a boring necessity into a decorative element. For example, if you have wrought-iron rails, a coat of spray paint can clean up the rails and change their look completely. Paint the rails black, randomly dab on bronze metallic paint and then rub the paint off before it dries completely to add an aged patina.

If you have wooden stair rails, use a crackle finish to add a weathered look. Paint the railings with a base colour, add the crackle medium -- a clear, paint-like substance available in most craft stores -- and paint over with white paint. The paint will crack, revealing the base colour and giving the stair rail a rustic look, perfect for cottage, country or beach house decor.

Rails and Spindles

Depending on the style of your decor, you can add some fun accessories to the stair rails. Stars, for example, are a staple of country and primitive style decor, and you can dress up the stair rail with a line of stars. Purchase unfinished wooden or metal stars from the craft store and decorate them with paint; add a crackle finish or use hot glue to attach faux berries or a ribbon to the star. Attach a row of decorated stars to the stair rail with ribbon bows or use an epoxy or hot glue for a more permanent effect. For more subtle decor, string a variety of beads or sea glass on wire or fishing line, and wrap the garland around the stair rail or spindles.

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