17 Eye-Catching Stair Railing Ideas

Stair railing ideas

Tessa Neustadt / Design by Emily Henderson

Stair railings are a safety feature with strict building code requirements designed to keep you secure while navigating the various floors of your house. Whether you plan to install a DIY stair railing with or without the use of a cost-saving shortcut stair railing kit, or hire an architect to create a custom staircase from scratch, the choice of stair railings is an important design decision that can set the tone for your space.

While dated stair railings from past decades can make a home feel tired and neglected, well-preserved or restored classic styles add charm and character to a period home. Contemporary stair railings can add a big dose of style to a new build or make an older home feel current.

Check out these staircase railings in various styles, materials, and configurations to inspire your own project.

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    Modern Farmhouse

    Stair railing ideas

    Sara Tramp / Design by Emily Henderson

    Black cross metal stair railings add a polished modern farmhouse touch to this comfy family-friendly living room from Design by Emily Henderson. The white walls contrast with the striking dark railing.

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  • 02 of 17

    Art Deco-Inspired

    Stair railing ideas

    Studio Surface

    Interior designer Michelle Salz-Smith of Studio Surface told us that she collaborated with a local craftsman to create the one-of-a-kind, Art Deco-inspired stairwell railing above for a home in Del Mar, California. "We love bringing architectural nuance to unexpected places like railings," Salz-Smith says. "Negative space should be considered when determining the silhouette of a railing. It should also play nicely with other key design elements."

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  • 03 of 17

    Industrial Black

    Stair railing ideas

    Anne Carr Design

    In this kitchen remodel from Los Angeles-based Anne Carr Design located blocks from the beach, a graphic black staircase adds an industrial touch to the light and airy vibe of the bright kitchen space.

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  • 04 of 17

    Iron Bars

    Stair railing ideas

    Sara Ligorria-Tramp / Design by Emily Henderson

    In this mountain retreat from Design by Emily Henderson, everything was designed with simplicity in mind, including the black iron stair railing. "We designed it to be so simple and sleek with no decorative detailing," Henderson writes on her blog, "except the wood on top which matches our wood on the floor."

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  • 05 of 17

    White and Bright

    Stair railing ideas

    Tessa Neustadt / Design by Emily Henderson

    In this airy, light-flooded living room from Design by Emily Henderson, a simple, pristine white linear railing lines the stairs in and out of the multi-level space and acts as a guardrail to the lower level. The railing has such a slim profile that it nearly disappears in the sunny space, leaving the focus on the views, furnishings and decor.

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    Stair railing ideas

    Kara Mann

    In this contemporary interior design from Kara Mann, a sculptural white staircase is a monumental statement that adds luxurious contours and an organic feel to the neutral space. The gleaming white enclosed structure of the staircase is augmented by minimalist black railings that follow the curves of the staircase from floor to floor, adding contrast.

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  • 07 of 17

    Wood Slat Wall

    Stair railing ideas

    Jen Talbot Design

    In this home renovation by Jen Talbot Design, a staircase spanning multiple floors includes simple handrails and a wall of floor-to-ceiling wood slats that allow air and light to pass through. Talbot referenced the warm wood tones of the existing staircase with an orange sofa. Otherwise, she stuck to a neutral palette of black and creamy whites that put the focus on sculptural furniture with curves contrasting with the staircases' linear lines.

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  • 08 of 17

    Walnut and Glass

    Staircase railing ideas

    Matt Clayton / Scenario Architecture

    In this renovated period townhouse in London, Scenario Architecture kept the original layout of the home rather than creating an open-plan space. But they created a sense of spaciousness and openness by renovating the staircase using warm walnut and glass that offers transparency and allows light to filter through to the hallway. The mixed materials feel fresh and modern, but the streamlined design feels timeless enough to last.

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  • 09 of 17


    Stair railing ideas

    Luke Hayes / Scenario Architecture

    Upstairs in the same London townhouse renovation seen above, Scenario Architecture created a playful family lounge space lit with skylights. The maritime-themed curved steel walls and staircase are secured with fishnet, a surprising choice of material that functions as a stair railing with a sense of openness. The project demonstrates the impact an irreverent design choice can have on your space.

    DIYers should be careful to respect building codes and consult professionals before using unconventional materials to create stair railings

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  • 10 of 17

    Custom Steel

    Stair railing ideas

    Jack Hobhouse / Cousins & Cousins Architecture and Interior Design

    In this UK home renovation by London-based Cousins & Cousins Architecture and Interior Design, a bespoke sculptural steel staircase creates visual interest and lush curves with an industrial edge, creating a solid stair railing that is both secure and a showstopping centerpiece.

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    Stair railing ideas

    Alan Williams / Merrett Houmøller Architects

    In this North London home renovation from Merrett Houmøller Architects, metalworks firm Design + Weld built a minimalist, contemporary staircase and balustrade using tension wire combined with a laser cut frame and bespoke CNC-turned fixings.

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  • 12 of 17

    Blue Metal

    Stair railing ideas

    Anna Positano / Deferrari+Modesti

    In this apartment outside of Prato, Italy renovated for a young couple by Deferrari+Modesti, the blue powder coated iron staircase was conceived as a piece of "micro architecture" that creates a focal point in the space. The railings consist of a mix of iron bars and painted perforated sheet metal in varying configurations that allow light to pass through the stairwell and between floors.

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    Red Steel

    Stair railing ideas


    Shiny red powder-coated steel and metal grid wire create a scene-stealing industrial-inspired centerpiece in this light and airy home renovation from Seattle-based OreStudios.

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    Stair railing ideas

    Design + Weld

    London-based metalwork firm Design + Weld designed this inventive "Square Staircase" concept for a private client. The geometric design incorporates a series of squares that create an unconventional railing with built-in book storage.

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    Floating Glass

    Stair railing ideas

    Martin Barraud / Getty Images

    This transparent floating staircase forgoes conventional stair railings in place of thick sheets of transparent glass that create a floating effect.

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    Tension Wire

    Stair railing ideas

    Jacek Kadaj / Getty Images

    This modern staircase combines floating wood steps anchored by a streamlined metal stair structure with tension wire stair railings that allow the staircase to maintain a light and airy profile.

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  • 17 of 17

    Fresh Classic

    Stair railing ideas

    Jacob Snavely / JMorris Design

    When your home is graced with an original staircase, the best choice of stair railings is to preserve the history and elegance of existing details. Case in point: this lovely renovated Park Slope, Brooklyn brownstone by JMorris Design. A fresh coat of white paint allows beautifully crafted embellishments to shine, while black paint on the handrail offers contrast and a graphic punch.