Stairway Color Ideas


The stairway presents some interesting challenges to the interior decorator. It's sometimes dark, and depending on how high the ceilings are in the area, can present places that are difficult to reach. If you have this problem, take heart. The color you choose for this area can help alleviate some of the problems presented by the stairway. Additionally, because of the interesting shape of the stairway, there's room to experiment with different techniques to enhance the decorative elements on the stairs.

Black and White

  • If your stairway is open in front from the floor of the foyer to the top of the stairs, with only the banister providing a visual “wall,” choosing a basic black and white color scheme will enhance the dramatic potential of this area. Paint the sides and fronts of the stairs white. Add black to the banister and to the tops of the stairs. This set up allows you to bring in and change color elements throughout the year as the season dictates, such as hanging up an orange, red and yellow decorative swag during the Thanksgiving holiday; however, when the season is over, this color combination still looks great on its own.

Accent Wall

  • Sometimes a striking color like red or cobalt blue isn't quite as striking when it's the only color you add to your stairway. However, adding a contrasting color like honey yellow makes all the difference, because it provides a contrast to these vibrant colors. To introduce an element like this in your stairway, paint the back wall going up the stairs a color that contrasts with the color you've featured on the stairs and on the walls in the foyer leading up to the stairs. The juxtaposition of the two different colors standing side by side will make your vibrant color seem more vibrant without adding anything else to the area. If you choose a light color like yellow for the accent wall, you'll also lighten up the area heading up the stairs, because the light color will reflect the light from the overhead lights.


  • The addition of color to your stairway can come in small doses. Stenciling your stairs and the banister area allows you to introduce color as well as pattern to the stairway. Stencils of a different color than what you've featured on the stairs allows you to bring together the various colors from your chosen color scheme. Choose just one color to stencil your stairway for a subtle look, or select a variety of colors for a bolder look.

Other Color Elements

  • Although painting may present the most obvious way to bring color elements to your stairway, it doesn't represent the only option. When you're looking for decorative elements for your stairway, keep a sharp eye out for a beautiful rug for the stairs, boldly colored artwork for the landing wall and candle sconces with lamps featuring your accent colors. These elements help your decor look complete, bring additional light to the area and tie in the visual elements from the foyer with the decorative elements on the stairway.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images
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