Stairs serve many purposes and while they are primarily there for function, they can also add a lot of style. If your home is contemporary through and through, when it comes to modern staircase ideas, there is a lot to be creative with. From different materials to choose from, to innovative tread designs and more, you’ll be able to quickly add interest to this often overlooked home feature in no time.
Think floating steps for a minimal look, ornate metal details, and fully blocked or sleek finishes. Whether your main staircase ideas come into play within an open plan apartment or suburban home, finding the right setup for your home will make an incredible difference.
Modern staircase ideas that impress
Making the staircase the focal point of your home is easy. Considering the important role they play in a home, they often don’t get the decorative attention they deserve.
But you can instantly liven up the look of your space with a new type of carpet, painted wood steps, or by choosing glass and metal designs. Whether you’re building a new home or replacing an existing staircase with a modern design, we’ve shown our favorite options below.
1. Sculptural and eye-catching designs
This modern staircase idea is truly stunning. The blond wood paired with the metal spindles gives it a sculptural quality and has a Scandinavian look with the clean lines and white painted backing. This staircase is ideal for minimalists, it is the focal point of the room and does not need overly decorated environments to make it stand out. So you can choose a neutral stair paint look instead and you’ll still enjoy maximum impact. Also see our guide for how to paint a staircase yourself.
2. Save space with a spiral staircase
Spiral staircases are a great option for small spaces or for those who can benefit from a mezzanine. They take up little space structurally and can be designed to fit your existing interior style.
Perfect for darker, smaller hallways, they don’t even block out light and can help create a light, airy atmosphere.
3. Keep it light and airy with a (mostly) all white pattern
If your entryway is on the dark side, light it up with a white scheme – this goes for the stair design too, don’t go for a “heavy” looking style like Eddie Maestri, principal architect of the AIA, creative director and owner of Studio Maestri (opens in a new tab) explains:
‘This bright and luminous staircase is accentuated by a very simple staircase design. The clean, crisp lines give it a modern look while letting the arches and panels balance with the traditional aspects of the home. ‘
4. Get your color from the wood
The fine wood used in this staircase means it is an essential part of the color scheme in the rest of the space. The warm tones perfectly match the orange accents of the vases and artwork, while the white serves as a modern white canvas. The glass sides give it a truly contemporary look.
5. Add drama with a gorgeous pendant
When the staircase connects to more than one story, elevate the staircase lighting by hanging a long pendant that visually connects from top to bottom while lighting the entire stairwell. Both the pendant you choose and the stair design should complement each other and, in this case, use materials that bind them together such as stainless steel.
6. Consider the pattern around the ladder
Your staircase must adapt to its surroundings, as Mel Bean, founder of Mel Bean interior (opens in a new tab) explains:
‘I love being able to respond to all personalities and dynamics, and this client was fun and open to pushing boundaries. Throughout the house, including the staircase, I have mixed complementary patterns, colors and textures so that the space stands out without being too loud. It was also important for me to combine new pieces, such as textiles and lighting, with the owners ‘custom pieces, such as the artwork on the gallery wall.’
7. Connect the ladder and furniture scheme with color
Painting a staircase is a great idea, and we also love the look of a new coat of paint on the side of the stairwell. This look keeps the space modern and ties in beautifully with the kitchen island in the background. It is also worth pairing the floor with the staircase for a cohesive look.
Thin wire spindles give a modern touch and allow light to flow through this clever design.
8. Choose an all-white railing look
We love this modern stair railing idea made from white powder coated steel. It adds to the overall look of the space, adding some balance, without distracting from the space behind it.
Visually it takes up little space which is why white is a great idea for a contemporary living room.
9. Decorate the side of the staircase with tiles
If you prefer a more solid looking staircase, opt for one like this one. It gives you a space on the wall to play with that could be used as a gallery wall and you could tile it all over. We love the way the tiles flow from the floor to the side wall, adding more interest to the decorative design and helping to visually bring the color scheme up the stairs.
10. For a truly modern touch, opt for a floating ladder
Uber sleek and truly modern, this floating modern staircase idea is for those who totally embrace the contemporary vibe.
With three discreet glass panels along the side, this staircase meets all needs if you love minimalist design. The neutral-colored walls add warmth and tie in with the stone floor tiles and crisp white furniture.
11. Choose a wooden staircase for warmth
While the monochromatic schemes are striking, it can be useful to add some materials to “warm up” the overall look a bit.
In this smart living space, the modern staircase does just that as the wooden steps tie into the wooden floorboards and kitchen island.
The jet black rail matches the rest of the pattern, so you get a perfect balance.
12. Create harmony with darker color accents
We asked Mary Maydan, founder and principal of Maydan Architects (opens in a new tab) on how to introduce a new scale in a balanced scheme:
‘I wanted the staircase to make a powerful statement without taking up the room. We achieved this by using a dark gray tile for the floor and underside of the stairs and a matching powder-coated gray color for the cross beams, top handrail and uprights. We complemented it with stainless steel cables for the railing to keep it slim and elegant.
I love the shadows that the staircase casts on the floor. Since there is so much glass in the surrounding room and we are in sunny California, it creates interest and brings a lot of life to the space. ‘
How do you modernize a wooden staircase?
If you want to use the ladder you have but is currently carpeted and painted, there are several things you can do. First, remove the carpet and check the condition of the wood underneath. If there is paint you can remove it, if not, and the wood is in good condition, it may just need a wood stain to give it a new look. You can also add lights and a new handrail.
How can I make the stairs more interesting?
You can really get creative with your stairs to make them more interesting, painting for example is a great option – paint each step a different color so they start to be light and get darker as you go up. You can add wallpaper and tile to the risers so that each one has a pattern. Trying out different staircase ideas is a great way to add color and practicality to your space. On the actual stair wall you can hang mirrors and artwork, and don’t forget there’s also a wide selection of cladding options, from metal décor to contemporary glass panels.