Stuck for stair wall ideas? Don’t see your staircase as just a means of getting from A to B. If you’re ready to get a little creative, then a staircase wall offers huge styling potential.
Quite often the stair wall is one of the first things to greet you as you walk into a property. Whether it’s a Victorian terrace with a narrow staircase or a modern build with an open-plan contemporary staircase, leaving unused wall space as a staircase idea is a missed opportunity.
“Very often, hallways can be considered an afterthought, but this is the first taste of your personal style your guests will get,” says Ruth Mottershead, creative director, Little Greene.
“Cozier spaces don’t take themselves too seriously: let your artwork do the talking with a colorful gallery wall, paper a feature wall with oversized flowers, or paint an alcove in a hue that puts a smile on your face” , adds Patrick O’Donnell, Brand Ambassador, Farrow & Ball.
Staircase wall ideas
1. Hang shelves to add texture
Gallery walls are an old favorite when it comes to stairway wall ideas, but for an alternative look that can add even more depth and interest, switch up frames for wall-mounted shelving. This is a simple look to make the long white wall of a stairwell more of a feature. Choose a shallow unit or even picture ledges would work and create displays featuring photos, prints, accessories and houseplants. You can easily turn it on throughout the year as well to give the space a different look
2. Go oversized with prints
The best gallery wall ideas for stairway walls are the ones that don’t fit in many small frames. These aren’t huge spaces, so you don’t want to overcrowd them with fussy layouts that just make the staircase look cluttered. Instead, go over the size with your own frames – almost floor to ceiling – and attach three or four equally hung on the stairway wall
3. Don’t take it too seriously
With such a large area to fill, it makes sense to go for an oversized piece.
This smiley face light installation by Brighton artist Andy Doig adds a fun smiley touch to the living area and is a contrast to the classic setting with its high ceilings and traditional wood paneled staircase.
4. Embrace color on a grand scale
Go all out with color. This engaging hallway paint scheme starts with a deep blue on the downstairs paneling, taking on a darker shade as it continues up the stairs.
White-painted woodwork and decorative plaster moldings punctuate the blue in places, with album covers resting on pedestals adding a witty touch.
5. Choose a flashy floral background
A large scale like this deserves a grandiose treatment. The exotic chinoiserie wallpaper is a bold choice on such a large scale, but against the weathered wood floor, stone steps and polished banister, the designer does it with aplomb.
“Select a wallpaper or paint shade for your hallway that provides a sense of continuity and transitions from room to room in a warm, inviting way,” says Ruth Mottershead, creative director, Little Greene.
6. Supersize your artwork
A grand staircase like this doesn’t need much else to stand out. While gallery wall ideas are popular, sometimes just a single piece of art can look that much more striking.
An oversized piece will accentuate a high ceiling, whether it’s a large canvas, a photographic still, an ornate mirror, or something whimsical, like a bicycle mounted on the wall.
7. Put up an image gallery
A gallery of artwork or family photographs is an ever-popular option for stairway walls. “When it comes to a gallery wall, anything goes,” say King & McGaw, “but deciding on an overall theme or style is a good place to start.”
“With your chosen style in mind, decide whether to keep it uncluttered with a neat grid structure or mix it up with a range of different sizes.” Prints by the same artist work well in matching sizes and frames.’
8. Set up a reading nook
Take advantage of an unobstructed landing area by filling the wall space with built-in shelves. Bring shelves from floor to ceiling to elongate the space, with uniformly sized cubbies for an uncluttered look.
Divide hardcover and paperback books for a uniform arrangement, or try color-themed books for a fun look. Find stylish ways to display books with more home library ideas (opens in a new tab).
9. Create a destination
Provide visual interest on all levels by incorporating landing areas into your decorating scheme. A frieze or mural will create a focal point further up a staircase that draws attention and encourages further investigation.
Create a simple tree using vinyl wall stickers. Paint the stair railings in various shades of green to echo the woodland theme.
10. Set the scene with a classic print
Make a stylish wallpaper the focal point of a staircase or landing. A classic toile print takes on a modern twist in monochrome black and white and makes for a striking backdrop in a small hallway.
Echo the color theme with black-painted banisters and artwork, alongside white-painted walls and accent furniture.
11. Shape it into a stairwell
The elevation and its awkward shape can make decorating a stairway wall a challenge. Stairwells are an area that often gets overlooked, but as you pass through this space countless times a day why not make it more of a decorative feature rather than just a thoroughfare.
Fill the wall space with a collection of vintage gold frames in assorted shapes and sizes. Removing the glass and backing makes them lightweight and easy to hang and a safer option at the top of the stairs.
12. Add a slight relief
Try an alternative to wall art and decorate a simple hallway and staircase with whimsical tracery and trellis panels to add a Moorish feel.
Striking against a dark painted wall, the panels are an easy option for a long narrow hallway and can be stacked at different heights to continue the treatment on a stairway wall. Try Jali for a range of decorative panels.
13. Be playful
We love the otherworldly Alice in Wonderland vibe that was created in this unexpected stairway look. Ribbon has been woven around the banisters and pictures hang at an angle to create beautiful chaos, although it can quickly be reset to calm.
The perfect party or holiday look for those who enjoy an out-of-the-box celebration.
What colors should I use on a stair wall?
Light colors aren’t the only option for painted stairs. Keeping the same color theme will create a sense of continuity on stairs and landings whether you go dark or light. And while it may seem counterintuitive to use dark colors in a space that is often small and cramped, they can help make a small space feel larger.
Hallways and stairways can look quite chaotic with lots of doors, skirting boards, radiators, etc. that distract the eye and cut out space. Painting everything the same shade can help soften edges and blur boundaries in a limited space.
Additionally, darker colors are a good foil for decorative elements such as artwork, mirrors, and lighting.