Sick of Your Stairs? Try These Designer-Approved Railing Ideas

a dog sitting on a stair
22 Stair Railing Ideas to Upgrade Your SpaceAmy Neunsinger

A beautiful stair railing can take your home to new heights, literally and figuratively. The railing not only keeps you safe in all your comings and goings but also establishes the character of your space. It makes a big visual impact whether it's in your entryway or deep within the heart of your home. Choosing the proper design isn't a decision to rush. Instead, we encourage you to tread lightly and consider these stunning stair railing ideas. We've found designer examples that are perfect for grand foyers, small spaces, and even the awkward space beneath your stairs.

The right design depends on your style preference, the architecture and angles in your space, and the materials you'd like to use (glass, iron, wood, or even leather). You can lean more traditional with a white wooden stair railing or more contemporary with an iron spiral that reaches for the heavens or front-page-ready glass panels. If you have toddlers or pets, you can design a stairway with a carpet runner and balusters that maximize safety and style. The ideas we've gathered below will also inspire you to consider creative new ways to paint a stair railing, decorate the stairway, and create storage.

In the constant rush of the day, it's easy to ignore your home's stair railing and accept what you inherited from the previous owner. But these beautiful stair railing ideas will encourage you to take another look and maybe even remodel your stairway. It’s time to elevate your home’s design.

Traditional Wooden Stair Railing

This classic stair railing in the entryway of the 2019 Whole Home in Atlanta has a stained wood handrail and treads with white painted risers and balusters. The beautiful S-shape stairwell is complemented by the fluid dragon-print indoor-outdoor wallcovering chosen by designer Vern Yip. He wrapped the grand space in the washable design to bring it down to earth. "Nobody wants to live in a museum where everything is so precious," Yip says.

a staircase with a table and chairs
David A. Land

Black Stair Railing

Caroline Rafferty tucked a polished aluminum stair railing tightly against the wall in this Palm Beach retreat. It's out of the way of kids running up and down but ready to lend a hand after a long beach day. The dark color stands out against the white painted stairs with a faux stair runner painted on in Benjamin Moore Soft Satin and Dewdrop.

a white staircase with a basket on it
Thomas Loof

Art Deco Stair Railing

Designed by Arent & Pyke, the curves of this architectural staircase are both timeless and modern. There's a level of mystery to the railing since it's more of an enclosure made of wood. The organic curve sets the rhythm and flow that continues throughout the home.

a room with a wood wall and a white chair
Arent & Pyke

Painted Stair Railing

This white and wood stair railing gets warmth from a natural fiber runner that also helps prevent slips. "We found this incredible carpet from 1stdibs and the blue-glass console from Avenue Road and just followed that thread,” says Philip Mitchell of the coastal color palette.

stairs with tan runner and blue art
Annie Schlechter

Pet Friendly Stair Railing

This sunny staircase leads to the children's room on the lower level of a California home designed by Mark D. Sikes to embrace fun inside and out. The railings and baluster are thin but sturdy and tightly spaced so kids and pups are safe. "It's really a place for a young family to share memories and energy and have fun," says Sikes. "And that's the best kind of house."

a dog sitting on a couch
Amy Neunsinger

Modern Clear Stair Railing

A sleek metal and glass design makes this space look spotless. The clever under-stairs storage helps too. That's right, it has a Murphy door. You could hide a coat closet or mini office inside, and use the bookcase to display coffee table books, plants, and decor.

a bookshelf with books and a basket on it

Victorian-Style Stair Railing

The carved balusters of the elegant white stair railing make this open foyer designed by Studio DB room sing with elegance. The traditional staircase frames the more modern, experimental furnishings and decor.

a living room with a red couch
Studio DB

Bright White Stair Railing

Designer and HGTV star Grace Mitchell brought a home originally built in 1919 to life from top to bottom. "There's just nothing like a home built in this era," she says. "Every detail shows the craftsmanship that went into it." The house had a beautiful stairway with a wide landing but no mudroom, so Mitchell put lockers there for her kids to stash their stuff. Bright white paint on the balusters brightens up the traditional stained treads and handrail.

a person standing on mint green and white staircase
Robert Peterson

Modern Curving Stair Railing

To draw attention to the modern and coastal staircase in a California home, designer Lindye Galloway and builder RJ Smith replaced the existing spindled banister with a smooth wall and sculptural wooden handrail. A custom banquette nestled between the stairs and wall brings value to an underused nook.

a bed with a canopy
Chad Mellon

Cottage-Style Stair Railing

The under-stairs nook is the perfect place for a cozy built-in banquette like the one designer Matt O'Dorisio created for this family getaway. We love how the stair railing forms one of the walls so you can peek in. These banquettes even have drawers for board games—see them on the front?

a room with a table and chairs
Karyn R. Millet

Traditional Stair Railing

Who says traditional can't be fun? While this stained wooden stair railing with white balusters has history, the tiled risers bring color and personality. Your family will lean down to appreciate the detailed mosaic designs.

a staircase with a railing
Laurie Frankel

Rustic Stair Railing

Going against the grain of cookie-cutter log cabins, designer Stephanie Housley designed a Wyoming cabin full of wonderful features, including this incredible wooden staircase. Notice how the railing continues along the edge of the loft space above.

a wood cabin with a fireplace
Will Ellis

Mediterranean-Style Stair Railing

Actress Shay Mitchell's staircase looks like an Italian vacation waiting to happen. The scroll details on the metal stair railing attract visitors' eyes—and distract them from the entryway closet. A console table that fits perfectly lets her highlight a few favorite items.

a staircase with a table and chairs
Jenna Peffley

Elegant Stair Railing

Elevate a dark brown and white stair railing with decorative accents that are more than a little wild. Here, a faux zebra runner and artwork liven up the landing.

zebra striped stair runner and artwork on stairs
Eric Piasecki

Modern Farmhouse Stair Railing

When renovating this authentic 1850s farmhouse in Maine, Kari McCabe chose to update the millwork with hues that were period appropriate but not dull. The combination of Nantucket red and sage in the entryway "could have gone a bit Christmas," she says, but the muted undertones keep the look fresh.

a chair and a table on a staircase
Thomas Loof

Simple Black Stair Railing

Akin Atelier gave a sleek, traditional stair railing a funhouse effect by installing mirror panels on the wall. They makes the stairs look like they stretch out into infinity and beyond. A plush runner enhances the illusion and makes you feel like you're walking on thin air.

a set of stairs with mirrors
Akin Atelier

Invisible Stair Railing

Skip the looking glass if you fear you'll get tripped up walking up mirrored stairs! Instead, opt for an invisible look where wide glass panels go along the stair railing. This entrance designed by Catherine Kwong shows how to execute the contemporary idea to perfection.

white and black glass staircase
Catherine Kwong Design

Black Contemporary Stair Railing

Narrow lines of black metal make this railing stand out against the white walls in this Los Angeles home designed by Linda Hayslett. Even more ingenious? The built-in nook for her client's corgi, Bo. One hop up and your pup can observe your steps from the comfort of their own nook.

a dog sitting on a staircase
Lauren Pressey

Natural Wooden Stair Railing

Designer Juan Carretero selected a deep green paint color to contrast with the light wood finishes on this stair railing. Tucked neatly against a staircase is a secretary with domino stools tucked under. It gives this tiny space storage and style.

a wooden chest with a lamp on top of it
Stephen Kent Johnson

Wrought Iron Stair Railing

Eye-catching, elaborate, and hypnotizing, the classic wrought-iron stair railing is the heart of this Tasmin Johnson–designed space. Modern wall art makes the winding and traditional stair railing look current.

elaborate iron stair case
Tamsin Johnson

Black and White Stair Railing

If you're constantly changing up your space, a white and black backdrop for a straight-up flight of stairs will never get old. Designer Barrie Benson used colorful upholstery to bring new life to a vintage settee in this light-filled foyer.

a staircase with a blue couch
Ngoc Minh Ngo

Carved Wooden Stair Railing

If your home gets a lot of traffic, choose a sturdy railing that can withstand all the wear and tear. Designed by Interior Design Les Ensembliers, this staircase has a thick but intricately carved newel post and balusters that evoke a romantic air.

a staircase with white railings
Paul Raeside

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