Throughout my career as an interior designer, I’ve helped a countless amount of homeowners with their home design choices. Not only do I design rooms for them, but I have also been an integral part of designing the remodeling aspect of the homes too!
Selecting the main finishes that are used throughout a home – such as flooring, trim paint color, and other foundation materials, are common struggles for homeowners who are embarking on a renovation or remodel project.
One topic that often comes up as a sticky point for clients is the staircase. Should it be a feature of the house or something more subtle? What materials should we use? Should it have ornate or modern details? And how can we ensure it’s timeless yet practical for what we need? Are all commonly asked questions.
The design style of a staircase is usually heavily governed by the architectural style of the house. But even so, there are many different options and design avenues you can take for each style!
This is why I have put together this article to take you through the various Staircase Styles you should consider for your home! And I’ve broken them down by Modern, Traditional, Minimal, and Transitional Staircases.
Let’s take a closer look!
Modern staircases take many forms. Many are straight stairs, while others are L or U-shaped. But the main characteristics of a modern staircase is the materials used.
If you are considering a modern staircase for your home, many of them feature glass and metal as the main materials. These are used particularly for the balusters, while they may be finished off with timber to add warmth and softness to the staircase.
Modern staircases can often be entirely made from timber, to match the flooring material throughout the home, with glass balusters. The design of them is typically very minimal to allow for a sleek finish to be achieved.
A good advantage for using glass as the baluster material is to enable more natural light to pass through the space, and also between levels of the home. But on the flip side, it could be challenging to keep clean if you have young kids!
Traditional staircases on the other hand, are quite different. While you can find straight traditional stairs, they are also a common design style for curved staircases.
In terms of materials used for traditional staircases, they are either entirely timber, or mostly iron (or similar metal). The key characteristic of traditional staircases are the details.
Many traditional staircases feature intricate metalwork and ornate details. Think of royal residences or old museums and their staircases, these are often very traditional ones because of the unique nature of the details.
Going to the complete extreme opposite of traditional staircases – minimal stairs are exactly that, minimal.
Often found in larger residences, or those ultra-modern homes, minimal staircases typically have open treads. This means you can see through to the level below. They are hung with a concrete or metal stringer beneath, that support the steps above.
Minimal staircases are often made from the materials I mentioned in the Modern Staircases section above – metal, glass, and/or timber. It’s important to mention that these staircases don’t feature any intricate details, they simply let the open treads and sleek materials do all the talking.
Another style of staircase that is starting to become increasingly popular, is Transitional Staircases.
These staircases are a mix between traditional and modern, of which the balance entirely depends on the house design and style preference of the homeowners. Here are some examples of a transitional staircase:
Modern materials (wood structural elements) with ornate metal detailing in balusters.
Traditional materials (entirely wood or metal) with modern details, such as minimal balusters.
How to Choose a Staircase Style
Choosing a staircase style for your home isn’t necessarily a quick decision, of which it will be difficult to explain without its own article! But I want to cover the main points of consideration so you can start to think about what may be suitable for you and your home.
Firstly, it’s important to think about your family and who will be living in your house. Do you have kids? Or pets? While you may not have them at the moment, are they a possibility for the future?
If you do have kids or pets, then safety should be your top priority, of which will rule out minimal staircases completely because of the open treads. Open treads can be hazardous to kids if they’re not supervised.
And will sticky fingers on glass balusters become annoying for you? Even if you don’t have kids, if you’re very particular about keeping a clean home, using glass as part of your staircase design could cause you daily headaches with finger marks.
Aside from the practicalities, it’s crucial to choose materials that reflect the style of architecture and design of the house itself! For example, if you choose a traditional staircase for an ultra-modern home, it will look completely out of place.
Consider what materials you will be using for the house design. Is there a lot of glass? What will the flooring be, tiles or timber? From this you can start to narrow down styles and materials that will work well.