New HomesThe Ultimate Staircase Design Guide

Make a design statement with the right staircase design

Step up your renovation or new build with some creative staircase design. There’s no shortage of ideas that can make your stairway stand out as a notable design feature in your home. From grand staircases to traditional, contemporary or industrial, there’s plenty of inspiration around. Let’s take a look at some examples and talk about the key elements that take staircase design from good to great.

Why staircase design is important and so is knowing the building codes?

Although stairs are the connector between living spaces, it’s important to remember that they also play a role in the feel and look of your home. If you already have a traditional style in your home, it’s recommended that you keep the style cohesive in the staircase design as well – however, there are some exceptions. Building and choosing the right staircase design that is up to spec on all the required building codes is important not only for safety but also because it’s the law. There’s almost nothing worse than to build a beautiful design, only to have an inspector come by after and tell you that you need to rebuild it – plus, hand you a hefty fine. A well-designed stairway can transport a contemporary living room to the Victorian era, or create a warm atmosphere that welcomes visitors at the entryway. With stairways, there are so many features to think about such as the size of each stair, the railings, carpeting, lighting and colours, to name a few.

For instance, while there are plenty of farmhouse decor ideas, you can certainly find tons of modern inspiration as well. One of the greatest parts about staircase design is how a few simple additions can go a long way. By just adding a few paintings or other adornments, you can completely transform your staircase. Of course, you could go big and completely change the wallpaper (try removable wallpaper for a less permanent fix) or paint colour for a bigger difference that will make a major impact. It’s all up to you how you decide to implement these creative staircase ideas.

The aesthetics and functionality of the perfect staircase design

Now that you have an idea of all the different aspects that go into staircase design, let’s look at some specifics, and why you should consider them. The first thing you should consider is the design for form and for function. It’s important to remember that safety and aesthetics go hand and hand. Your local building codes will put restrictions on how tall your railings are allowed to be, and what angle your stairs can be for example. Although
these restrictions limit what’s possible, it doesn’t mean your stairs have to look boring or utilitarian. Even within the rules, there is a lot of room for creativity. Whether your home has a rustic appeal or you prefer the minimal lines of cable and wire railings, choosing the right staircase design will create a beautiful accent to your architectural interiors. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing the right one. Railings of your staircase don’t have to make a statement. First, take a look at some inspiration and decide if there are any design ideas you’d like to implement. Although
some of these ideas look amazing, it’s also important to consider your budget. We find that the best way to balance the budget with your wants is to first brainstorm all the things you’d like to do, then, think about how you can make those ideas fit your budget. Often, there are ideas that just don’t make the cut, and that’s okay. First, let’s get started by looking at some inspirational designs:

The beauty of your home is largely based on the architectural and design tastes of the homeowner. Look at the colours, details, and influences that shape your home. If your home is built with artisan influences and you love displaying one-of-a-kind artwork and gallery-inspired sculptures, choose a handrail that displays some similar qualities. Depending on where you live, try searching out some local artists and sculptors that you commission for custom projects. Your home may be the perfect place for a piece of their work!

Railings that don’t make a statement in your staircase design

Although they can, your railings don’t always have to be a focal point, and sometimes people opt to remove them entirely. Often, homeowners desire a “less is more” aesthetic. Some examples of materials that blend in seamlessly are glass, cable, wire, and vertical spindles. If your home or your taste demands the railings to be invisible, look for those options. Design blogs and magazines are a couple of resources you can use to find ideas. Also be mindful when walking around in your daily life – hotels, commercial office buildings, restaurants and shops can be a great source of inspiration for your staircase design ideas.

Stairs are an essential circulation element, as well as a dominant design feature. Since you can’t easily update or change your stairs as often as other areas in your home, it’s very important to consider the material selection of your staircase. To make this process easier, we’ve created a list of all the pros and cons of using wood, glass, acrylic, metal and concrete for your staircase.


The most traditional, most affordable option is wood. It’s strong, easy to work with, and gives and elements of warmth in your home. The least expensive options are engineered pine or plywood, which can be painted or carpeted, whereas hardwood floors such as ash and oak are usually more expensive.


  • Affordable and abundant material
  • Strong and easy to work with.


  • Less durable and requires maintenance
  • Can be damaged by humidity


If you want to add a contemporary touch to your interior, acrylic or glass are great options. The advantage to these materials is that they allow light to travel through them, and are lightweight, however, they are also one of the more expensive materials available.


  • Strong and able to be strengthened to accommodate heavy traffic
  • Allows for light to filter through
  • Wide range of non-stick coatings available


  • Acrylic scratches easily, and glass can break or chip
  • An expensive option


Metal stairs can cost more than wood, however, their strength and durability make them a choice material for stairs that last a lifetime. Metal is a great option because it offers flexibility of design to accommodate a wide range of styles.


  • Durable, strong and accommodates a wide range of styles
  • Great for spiral stairs or tight spaces


  • Can be noisy to walk on
  • Bronze and iron may change colour in time but can be coated to preserve the appearance
  • Susceptible to corrosion in high-salt areas
  • Heavier to transport, more expensive


If you’re looking for a strong, solid contemporary look, concrete stairs should be on your radar. They are usually supplied precast in sections and ready to be assembled on-site, and can also be poured to achieve a custom look. The cost of concrete depends on the complexity of the design and therefore the specialized manufacturing required, and installation costs.


  • Strong & solid
  • Able to be poured for creative shapes and sizes


  • Tendency to crack so must be well-engineered
  • May suffer from chipping on edges, making repairs difficult
  • Time delay while waiting for stairs to be fabricated and delivered to site