26 Staircase Ideas: How to Plan, Design & Choose Your Perfect Staircase

From fantastic marble helical flights to timber U-shaped designs, find here a selection of inspiring staircase ideas for your home renovation or self build project
Articles by Build It magazine
by Build It magazine
21st January 2024

Are you looking for staircase ideas? Investing in a staircase that meets your practical needs and ties in with your home’s design can really transform a space and how you move throughout it on a day-to-day basis.

Staircases often take pride of place in a floorplan, and in many cases, they’re the first feature you see when you walk through the front door. Not only do they have to serve a practical purpose in connecting one storey to another, but with careful planning and consideration, they can become an impressive focal point that defines the overall style of your property.

When it comes to gathering staircase ideas, there are lots of options as well as a range of materials that can be mixed and matched. Depending on your criteria, different materials suit different applications.

For example, natural stone stairs are extremely durable, easy to maintain and will last a long time. Timber is a versatile material , with many species and the option to stain or paint it to evolve with your home’s design. Steel is strong but can be moulded to form sturdy spiral staircase designs, and is ideal if you prefer an industrial aesthetic. Glass looks contemporary while letting in light for a bright space.

Straight, L-shaped and U-shaped staircases are classic designs that suit a multitude of spaces, often with the ability to incorporate extra storage underneath. If you’re looking for a more striking design, curved, spiral, cantilever and even bifurcated (where the staircase splits off into two) styles can add drama to a space, working particularly well in high-ceilinged entrance halls for a feeling of luxury. There are other details to consider, too, such as open or closed risers, balustrade style and handrails, and whether to fit storage under the flight.

Here, we’re taking a look at some excellent staircase ideas to inspire your project.

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1. Recycled Timber Staircase Ideas

Bisca won the Build It Award for Best Staicase at the 2023 Build It Awards.  Described by one Awards judge as “pure sculpture”, their amazing, Recycled Timber Staircase was completed for a barn conversion in Northumberland. The flight forms a dramatic focal point in the centre of the living space.

Finished to perfection, the helical stairs’ rustic character adds instant wow factor to the house. The white-painted support structure provides a contrast to the palette of natural timber.

2. Charming Oak Staircase

A popular choice for staircases, oak is one of the most characterful hardwood timbers you can choose for your design. An instant classic, it’s extremely hardwearing – ideal for high-traffic zones like stairs.

Staircase Ideas: How Plan, Design & Choose Your Perfect Staircase

This bespoke oak staircase by Neville Johnson is traditional in style but still works well in its contemporary setting.

Learn More: Staircase Costs: How Much Should You Budget for a New Staircase?

3. Concrete Staircase Ideas

Concrete staircases look great in modern homes. They can be costly and, depending on whether they’re precast or cast in situ, tricky to install. But the material’s strong load-bearing capacity, low maintenance and virtually fireproof nature justify the price point.

Staircase Ideas: How Plan, Design & Choose Your Perfect Staircase

Photo: Andy Stagg

Cast on site, this concrete stairway leads down to the lower ground floor of this Victorian renovation by Paul Archer Design.

4. Industrial-Style Steel Flight

Although typically more expensive than timber, steel is a long-lasting and cost-effective choice for those seeking to make a contemporary or industrial-style statement.

Staircase Ideas: How Plan, Design & Choose Your Perfect Staircase

Photo: Brotherton-Lock Photography

Bear in mind it can be trickier to customise if you ever want to refurbish your interiors. This steel staircase was installed in a loft extension designed by Ciarcelluti Mathers Architecture.

5. Grand Stone Staircase

Like timber, stone stairways are timeless. They’ve been around for centuries and although typically traditional, they can easily form part of a modern design.

Staircase Ideas: How Plan, Design & Choose Your Perfect Staircase

Photo: Will Layzell

Stone comes in at the top end price-wise, but this kind of flight will have outstanding longevity and become a feature that can increase your home’s value. In this project by Nash Baker Architects, the contemporary helical staircase is clad in stone.

6. Natural-Feeling Timber Staircase

Warm and characterful, timber is one of the most popular staircase materials. It’s just as capable of creating a contemporary design as it is a traditional one. Choose from options such as engineered pine (which can be painted or stained) through to pricier hardwoods like mahogany and walnut.

Staircase Ideas: How Plan, Design & Choose Your Perfect Staircase

Photo: Vigo Jansans

This Havwoods timber flight, featuring metal balusters, was designed in collaboration with Aflux Designs.

7. Custom-Designed Staircase

Suzie and Sam Andrews’ focus for their self build project was creating a light-filled and open family home. Central to this plan was their bespoke L-shaped staircase from PM Large Joinery, which sits at the heart of their grand entrance hallway.

Custom-Designed Staircase Design

Photo: Adam Carter

The flight supports steel balustrades and leads up to a light-filled landing, adding a contemporary addition to the interior.

EXPERT VIEW Developing your staircase ideas

Gareth Betts, staircase designer at Neville Johnson, takes a look at the key things to consider when collecting your staircase ideas

How can you tailor your staircase design ideas to suit your home?

Base the materials in your design on both the environment and the aesthetic which surrounds your staircase. For example, if the hallway or landing has limited lighting, use glass to open up the space and keep the materials delicate so that they don’t weigh down the design.

If your staircase leads up to a wide stretch of landing, avoid chunky detailed spindles on the balustrade. Keep it minimal by using specialised materials such as laser-cut panels to show texture without overwhelming the overall look.

How can you ensure the design of your staircase has longevity?

A staircase will be a lifetime investment, so think about the long term when deciding on your design. The key is to stick to what you like as opposed to following a trend. Complement the staircase with the decor, but ensure it can adapt to change with your personality and creativity if you think your style might change over time.

Often the elements around a staircase can be redecorated to flex with your interior, depending on its style and the materials used. For example, the inner and outer string and apron can be refinished with paint, or stained if made from timber. Create feature steps by using contrasting colours on treads and risers. Carpet runners are also a great way to incorporate colour and pattern, as well as protecting your stairs from scuffs and marks. These can be easily swapped out to change with the times.

What should you consider when deciding on the size, location and placement of your staircase?

Often a staircase is the main focal point to an entrance hall. Therefore, the design should work in a way that leads you into the home and guides you through the ground floor areas, as well as the first floor. Your staircase should be as open as possible for ease of access.

In a tight space, remember to use smaller newel posts and slimmer handrails that are proportional to your staircase. Thin spindles in lightweight materials such as steel or clear glass work well to not overpower a compact area. You can also afford to add colour, detail and texture that you wouldn’t necessarily incorporate into a normal staircase, such as contrasting tones and intricate newel post details. Make the most of any space under the stairs by building in a cupboard, for instance.

What should you consider in terms of safety when gathering staircase design ideas?

Your staircase must comply with Building Regulations Part K. It covers protection from falling, collision and impact and contains key guidance on designing a staircase. So, make sure you consult this before altering an existing flight, or if you’re installing a new one, ensure it meets these requirements. Bear in mind that the staircase styles you see on social media from around the world don’t always fall within UK regulations, so it’s strongly advised to seek professional advice when choosing a design.

8. Sleek Spiral Staircase

When collecting your staircase design ideas, think about how you can arrange a scheme to not block out any essential daylight or views.

Spiral Staircase Design

Photo: Peter Landers

Cake Industries worked with Chris Dyson Architects to design this semi-spiral staircase made up of a hollow circular spine in rolled steel, solid oak treads and a brass handrail. The spiral design and delicate spindles allow light from the tall window to fill the interior.

9. T-Shaped Walnut Flight

This standout T-shaped staircase was pivotal to the success of Colin White and Annette Siddle’s renovation project, bringing a focal point to the home while providing an effective connection to the rooms on the upper level.

T-Shaped Walnut Flight

The steel stairs arrived in sections, with a local joiner and cabinetmaker completing the American walnut clad joinery.

10. Wow Factor Marble Staircase Ideas

Gathering staircase ideas is an important part of designing a home, as this structural addition can take up more space than you’d expect. Therefore, ensuring the flight fits your scheme will be key to success, helping to enhance and blend with any distinctive features or colours.

Wow Factor Marble Staircase Design

Designed in collaboration with architectural practice D-Raw, this helical staircase has marble treads and risers and a plaster balustrade that sits beautifully in the home’s white interior scheme. Bespoke Bisca staircases start from £30,000.

11. Stacked Timber Spiral Staircase

Bisca supplied this bespoke spiral staircase as part of a comprehensive renovation project to connect the kitchen and basement. The pale timber block treads are supported with a central core, providing a distinctive and stacked look.

Stacked Timber Spiral Staircase

12. Striking Timber Flight

This timber staircase has cantilever-style treads and contrasting steel spindles. A Complete Stair System design in any hardwood costs approximately £6,000-£10,000.

Striking Timber Flight

13. Focal Point Staircase Design

A bifurcated flight will certainly make a wow-factor focal point. This stately timber staircase by David Smith St Ives oozes opulence, boasting intricate newel posts and spindles with a red carpet runner for a regal finish.

Focal Point Staircase Design

14. Contemporary Staircase Design

Mata Architects opted for a straight staircase made from folded steel in this new build home. Its slim design allows it to sit perfectly in the centre of the kitchen/living space without taking up too much room.

Contemporary Staircase Design

Photo: Anna Stathaki

15. Statement Flight Ideas

The ribbon-like newel posts on this helical staircase by Max-Stairs make for a truly statement design.

Statement Flight

The glass balustrades appear almost invisible, letting in lots of light and giving the flight a bold contemporary touch that works well alongside the rich timber.

Read More: Open Staircase Design: Open Riser Stairs, Cantilevered Flights & Glass Balustrades

16. Create an Art Deco Look

Create an Art Deco Look

The steel spindle design on this timber U-shaped staircase by Neville Johnson gives it a luxury Art Deco feel.

17. Curved Oak Staircase

This cantilevered staircase by Bisca is central to the design of the oak frame self build home. Featuring raised grain oak treads and a concealed mild steel structure, the flight twists around a curved wall – and is beautifully finished with a low-iron glass balustrade and oval oak handrail. A similar design would cost around £65,000

Oak Staircase Design

Get the combination of wood flooring and timber stairs right: Wood Flooring: Your Complete Guide to Choosing & Installing Timber Floors

18. Solid Spiral Staircase Design

It’s paramount that you plan your staircase design from the get-go. You and your design team will need to envision the impact your staircase will have on each storey.

Solid Spiral Staircase Design

It’s also key to know how the flight will be seen from different angles – particularly if you are opting for open-plan living, as it needs to fit effortlessly within the home.

This project in Jersey by Spiral UK is fabricated in Corten steel with contrasting natural timber treads for an organic, elegant design.

19. Cantilevered Staircase Ideas

Cantilevered Stairs

The limestone steps on this cantilevered design by Chesney’s Architectural curve round the corner, leaving the area below clear for furniture.

The dark, thin balusters are topped with a lighter hued handrail, which alongside the pale flight, helps to create a trendy monochrome look.

More Inspiration: Choosing the Right Cantilevered Staircase

20. T-Shaped Staircase Ideas

T-shaped stairs will bring real wow factor to your home. This cantilevered design (no supporting structure underneath) is the perfect match for the minimalist look in this home. Lights floods through from the upper storey thanks to the glass balustrades.

T-Shaped Staircases

21. Green Oak Staircase Design

Bespoke staircase specialist Bisca was commissioned to create a new feature timber flight for a 400-year-old Devonshire shippon (cow shed).

Green Oak Staircase Design

The brief was for a stair that would immediately look like part of the existing architecture, complementing the building’s humble provenance.

22. Open-Tread Spiral Staircases

Spiral staircases are a great space-saving solution, creating a stylish transition between floors and adding a striking focal point to your home’s interior.

Open-Tread Spiral Staircases

The Complete Stair Systems range of spiral staircases consists of a stunning variety of custom and kit spiral staircases for both domestic and commercial applications to provide a contemporary or traditional solution.

23. Dramatic Staircase Ideas

This stunning helical staircase features curved glass balustrades from IQ Glass. The frameless, toughened structural glazing, also present on the landings, offers clear sightlines and maximises the flow of daylight.

Dramatic Form

The glass has a low iron content to reduce the common green tint seen on thick panels. The sculptural flight, with its dark wood treads and handrails offset with white soffits and stringers, is by Spiral UK.

Learn More: Modern Staircase Style Guide

24. Mix & Match Materials

Walnut treads contrast with the white plastered soffit (underside of the flight) in this semi-cantilevered design from Bisca.

Mix and Match

The soffit has a gentle curve, finishing up to the wall, with a similarly twisted handrail. There is a small gap detail to allow for feature lighting at the side of the treads. Bespoke flights start from £25,000.

25. High-Tech Stairs

Digitally designed and laser cut by the Facit Homes studio as part of a full house build, this staircase appears cantilevered and structurally supported by the wall, but actually rests subtly on the floor.

High-Tech Stairs

A parametric design means that each component steps in as the stair rises, accentuating the deceptive effect. Downlights on the balustrade add to the illusion

26. Minimalist Staircase Design

Minimalist Staircase Design

Consisting of a central metal spine supporting solid wooden treads and a glass balustrade, this staircase from Max-Stairs embodies modern simplicity. The chunky steps are sized to reduce the gap between treads to less than 100mm, complying with the UK standard. This bespoke flight is stained in dark oak and similar designs start from £15,000.

This article was originally published in January 2021 and has been updated in January 2024. Additional content by Georgina Crothers.

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