A stairway in a foyer can make or break the space. It is usually the first impression a house gives to its visitors. A good stairway is like that indispensable broche on a dress or a statement tie to a suite. A stairway’s railing is one of its most important components.
Depending on the style of a home, railings can be richly ornate or simple and understated. If your railing is the focal point, the treatment used on treads and risers should complement and not compete with the railing. These railings are an airy variation of leaves and foliage and draw much more attention than the simple white floating steps. Other spaces may call for stone, wood, tile, concrete or any combination of these materials to accompany different railings styles.
This photograph shows an eclectic residence where the steps are the center of attention. I kept the railings very simple and unfussy because I wanted to create a dynamic effect on the runner by using different geometric patterns on treads and risers. That way you perceive one pattern at eye level when all you see is risers and another pattern when you are stepping on its treads. I wanted to create an element of surprise in the way the stairway is experienced.
It is important to be cautious of how much detail you use on railings and how much detail you use on the steps, because it is rarely necessary to make a strong statement with both. In this grand entryway, you’ll see there are patterns on both the railings and the steps. However since they are monochromatic, using different shades of brown, against a blank background, these patterns coexist harmoniously creating an elegant pathway that ascends through the home.
No matter the size of the steps in your home, treat them like their own space in the house. Add a focal point, add some interest, and make taking the stairs more enjoyable!
Remember: Always elegant, never boring!