Custom Stairwell

Pamela Hope Designs designed the above custom iron railing for The Warrant Building & Manske Wealth Management in an adaptive reuse project of an old soda bottling factory.  Photo Courtesy: Geoffrey Lyon

You go up and down it every day, but are you thrilled by your staircase? Are you noticing a few more creaks and pops as you traverse up and down the stairs? Have you ever had it checked to make sure it doesn’t need to be repaired? It may be time for some maintenance on your staircase or at least some updating. The major parts of the stairway structure are the tread, the riser, the wall stringer, structural stringer, the handrail and baluster. Each of these components can be made of several materials. In a modern style home or office, a lot of these parts are metal (like the one shown above), although more traditional homes feature wood components. As style has evolved, we are also seeing the use of glass and cabling especially in modern homes. In this post, we’ll explore some simple ways to improve your stairway and alternatives to improve how your staircase is incorporated into your space. While stairs often get overlooked, a multi-story home will have at least one staircase and its traffic can be brutal on the handrails, treads and risers. Let’s explore stair maintenance and repairs.

The easiest way to maintain your stairs starts with making sure the risers are clean. The quickest way to get shoe marks and dirt off painted risers is with a Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser. The directions are very simple.

  1. Wet the eraser, which looks like a sponge.
  2. Squeeze it 3-4 times to activate the suds.
  3. Erase the marks on the risers.

    intricately designed tile on stairs

    Photo Courtesy: Brian Mihealsick

I always recommend testing the product on a small inconspicuous part of the riser to be sure there is no discoloration, but we have not had an issue with doing this in the past.

Once the riser is clean your work may be done, but if you are still looking for something new, consider painting your riser a different color. Even a slight change in color or just a fresh coat of paint can have a dramatic impact on the look of your staircase.

Another alternative is to create a pattern on the riser with tiles that dress up the staircase and make it a real highlight of the home. The tiles also add durability and are easier to clean than a painted surface. The staircase to the right was featured on and I really like how the geometric shapes of the tiles work with every other part of the staircase. In this instance by using the tiles, you really define the stairs that would otherwise blend in too much with the surrounding white walls in this home.

If paint and tile are not your desired look, you can have a stairwell runner that can provide an equally dramatic effect. We love runners at Pamela Hope Designs and suggest them to many of our clients! Runners should leave at least four inches on either side to expose the underlying tread. The open space on either side of the tread can vary depending on the width of the stairs. Runners can come pre-made or can be a custom item to really set your home apart and they are widely available through many retailers. Runners should be professionally installed to ensure that the staples used to secure the runner are hidden. Decorative rods ranging from polished brass to chrome with decorative ornamental finials can also be added to the runner. Decorative rods look amazing in older and more traditional homes. The real benefit of a runner outside of it dressing up the staircase is the safety it provides. Wood or tile stairs are slippery, and the runner provides extra traction for homeowners and especially those who may find it difficult to get up and down the stairs.

whimsical entry and stairwell

Décor by Pamela Hope Designs; Photo Credit: Julie Soefer

If a more substantial redesign is what you need to make your staircase all you want it to be, there are several considerations. Do you want your staircase in the same location? What materials do you want to use? Are you looking for something modern or more traditional?

modern staircase

Photo Courtesy: Siller

Let’s start with location. Sometimes there is enough space available in a room that a landing and a turn can be added to an existing staircase, but that takes a sizeable room in an open floor plan. Moving a staircase takes a lot of planning but it happens frequently. Have a clear vision of your new staircase and its effect on the room it is added to downstairs and where the opening upstairs will impact that space. You may need to move some walls upstairs to create an appealing ascent point. This can often be accommodated because when you remove your original staircase you are going to gain added floor space upstairs.

When it comes to the design of your new staircase, there is a lot to consider. Modern designs fit open floor plans and include the use of metal in the treads, outer and inner stringers, spindles and handrails. Modern staircases often omit the risers between the steps which allows for an even cleaner, spacious look. We have also seen a lot of glass or cabling used in place of spindles (the vertical posts between the handrail and the outer stringer). In the case of using cables, these run horizontally at the angle of the stairs and pass through the metal spindles up the length of the outer wall. They all look amazing when applied correctly to a home with a modern interior design.

Traditional staircases typically use wood in the treads, outer and inner stringers and handrails. A great way to update a traditional staircase is to use metal spindles and handrails. This brings in a nice blend of modern and traditional styles and opens the staircase up more than traditional wood spindles.

Whether it is a major overhaul or you are just trying to do some minor updates, you can see the value in investing in a staircase that will hold up for years to come and be a welcome addition to your home and decorative style. Contact Pamela Hope Designs for a winning creation.







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