From Drab to Fab: 10 Creative Ways to Dress Up Your Stairs

From zebra decals to nautical stripes, we've rounded up 10 creative ideas to give stairs a new look

Stenciled Stairs

Stenciled Stairs staircase designs

Vanessa from Bluet & Clover transformed her blah staircase into a work of art by stenciling them for just $1. She happened to have a lot of the necessary materials on hand already, but says this project should only set someone back about $20 at most. First she painted the staircase using several coats of white floor paint and then designed a stencil inspired by a Jonathan Adler lamp. It’s a labor-intensive process but the end result is more than worth it. For more on how to stencil your own stairs, check out her blog.

Colorful Painted Stairs

Colorful Painted Stairs staircase designs

When it came time to brighten blogger Beth Bryan’s dark basement stairwell, she relied on a few $5 paint samples to give the area a frugal facelift. Beth used a mix of blue, green and purple to give each stair riser a different color. The stair treads were painted a crisp white to match the batten and board wall she had installed. For more on how she did it, check out her blog.

Ebony Stain and Sisal Carpet Treads

Ebony Stain and Sisal Carpet Treads staircase designs

Interior designer and blogger Jenna Burger from SAS Interiors knew the old, worn carpet on her stairs had to go. What she didn’t know was that there were awesome unfinished wood treads hiding underneath. For the newly revealed wood stairs, she chose a dark ebony stain for the treads and a crisp white paint for the risers and other moldings. She also gave her banister a fresh coat of greige paint. Once the paint and stain were fully dry, she added sisal carpet pads to the treads for a slip-free surface that’s stylish and kid-friendly. For more on how she did it, check out her blog.

Cheetah Carpet

Cheetah Carpet staircase designs

When design blogger Lindsay Dress from Sadie + Stella pulled up the carpet on the staircase in her 1950’s bungalow, she discovered a disaster underneath. Not ready to give her stairs the major overhaul they needed, she had a bold cheetah carpet installed instead. For more on how Lindsay did it, check out her blog.

Inspiring Words

Inspiring Words staircase designs

Blogger Emily A. Clark had an Etsy decal shop make a quote from the book The Help for the staircase leading up to her family’s playroom. “Grammatically correct or not, this quote says everything I want my five kids to know about themselves every day,” she says. Easy to apply and remove, decals are a smart way to go if you rent your home or have a hard time committing to just one style. For more about her staircase, check out her blog.

Wallpapered Stairs

Wallpapered Stairs staircase designs

Graphic designer Margot Madison of Creative Details and Consulting spent months searching for the right wallpaper to decorate her stairs. She finally found an even better solution—decorative shelf liner!—in the perfect color and pattern at her local T.J. Maxx. For just $5.99 a roll, she created a striking staircase with a bit of whimsy. For more about Margot’s staircase, check out her blog.

Numbered Stairs

Numbered Stairs staircase designs

For a quick and easy staircase makeover, Laura from The Ironstone Nest relied on pretty numbers from the Jones Design Company and two Sharpie pens. She cleaned up her stairs before giving the risers a fresh coat of paint and then traced each number in pencil. Using a fine Sharpie paint pen, she outlined each number and then filled in the numbers with a broad stroke paint pen. To learn more about Laura’s numbered stairs, check out her blog.

Nautical Striped Stairs

Nautical Striped Stairs staircase designs

Interior designer and blogger Sarah O’Neill Fernandez gave her Cape style home a nautical look by painting stripes on the stairs. To create the effect, she measured the stripes on one of her sailor shirts and determined that she needed a 2:1 ratio of white to navy blue. Since her risers are 6" high, she used a 1 1/2" painter's tape with a 3/4" gap between each strip for the navy stripe. To keep the paint from bleeding through the tape, Sarah recommends painting a white base over the painter's tape. To learn more about Sarah’s staircase, check out her blog.

DIY Stair Runner

DIY Stair Runner staircase designs

To dress up the stairs in her Brooklyn Heights brownstone, DIY guru Jenny Komenda from Little Green Notebook made her own runner using four Ikea rugs. After ripping up the carpet that was originally on the stairs, she cleaned up all the bumps and uneven parts with a sanding block. She then painted and primed the edge of each step and put rug grippers down before securing the runners using a brad gun. To complete the look and make sure each runner was secure she used three black nail heads on each tread. To learn more about Jenny’s DIY runner, check out her blog.

Painted Runner

Painted Runner staircase designs

Blogger Debbie Christianson couldn’t find an affordable runner she liked so she decided to paint a runner down the middle. To dress her steps up even more, she painted thinner lines on the side as well. The project would have been infinitely easier if she didn’t take this step, she said, but in the end she’s glad she did. For a step-by-step tutorial on how to give your stairs a fancy painted runner, check out her blog.

Zebra Stripes

Zebra Stripes staircase designs

Blogger and interior designer Camila Pavone considered hand painting zebra stripes on her traditional wood stairs and white risers before she discovered a much easier and affordable fix from Wall Pops. Camila loves how well the decals coordinate with her living room which has brown, white, blue and little pops of orange. For more on how she did it, check out her blog.

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