Interior Design Tips - Decorating Your Staircase

The staircase in your home may not be equal to that featured in Gone with the Wind, but may nonetheless be of sufficient architectural interest to form the focal point of your entrance. Graciously curving hand rails, handsome newel posts, elegantly proportioned steps and elaborately cast or turned balustrades - these are all details that merit attention.

If more modest in size and lacking decorative detail, your stairway will, at the very least, offer space to create your very own picture gallery or perhaps a print room, and will become a pleasurable transitional space between floors.

The major decision you have to make is whether or not to 'star' the stairway and, if so, which elements merit special treatment. Whichever parts are colored in contrast to the rest of the scheme, these are the details that will stand out. Remember also that wood has a color and it is a good idea to try to match other timber furnishings in the surrounding areas to this color.

It is impossible to think of a stairway without considering the rooms with which it connects - in particular the hall from which it probably emanates. Because the two areas will inevitably be viewed together, it is important that the color schemes of both are closely linked, if not entirely the same.

The space beneath a stairway offers a wonderful opportunity for storage, either closed in and housing unsightly items (such as cleaning implements and bicycles) or open and perhaps forming a mini library or bar. In a space-pressed home, a miniature office might even be accommodated.

For practicality surfaces need to be tough. If carpet is your chosen, floor covering, ensure that it is well attached to the stairs either by a gripper rod beneath or stair rods above. Stair rods are an old-fashioned but decorative idea and many styles, particularly those in brass, are still being manufactured. A stair nosing will protect stair edges in situations where there is particularly heavy wear. Delicate wall surfaces can be protected by the introduction of a painted dado at the lower level.