The Insider: How to pimp your stairs

Kate Burt
Sunday 23 October 2011 02:59

Stairs often get neglected when preening the home. And where do you start, anyway – there's too much wall space, no furniture that fits, weird angles, and carpet ain't cheap. So what are the shortcuts to a chic staircase?

Come together

Use stairs to unify your home's colour scheme. Pick a small palette of paints to reflect other rooms, and do risers (the vertical element of the step) – or whole steps – in alternating tones. (So you can still use them, do every other step then, when dry, swap.)

Get pasted

The textile designer Ruth Singer suggests papering risers with a collage of vintage dress patterns, maps and wallpaper instead.

Bring dead space to life

A chunky MDF shelf makes a desk under my stairs, while inspiring book Small Spaces (Quadrille) piles in mis-matched cabinets for a cheap-as-chips industrial look.

Wall of me

I'm a bit over "feature" walls – but a stairs-side version? Instead of wallpaper, a fabulous stone-effect panel is very now (and, at £71.75 per 12sq m, very do-able too).

Adorn me

"Use landing space to create a focal point with a console or small chest of drawers," says's Sonia Murton. I found a slim, 1970s tallboy for mine; it holds loads of bedding.

All light long

"Staircases can feel dull," says James Mackenzie, B&Q's director of building. For visual excitement, he suggests illuminating them "with small recess lights, set at low level to cast light on every other tread". Or hang a dramatic wall-light for pizzazz without filling floor space.

Slide away

Budget to blow? Check these quirky stairs-cum-giant-slide on the hip architecture blog Dezeen:

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments