190+ Spectacular Staircase Designs (Photos & Staircase Design Guide)

A photo gallery of 190+ amazing staircase designs plus our epic staircase design guide that explains the parts of a staircase and types of staircases.

Open riser staircase in modern home.

Welcome to our extensive staircase photo gallery as well as detailed information about the types of stairs and parts of a stair.

In simplest terms, a staircase bridges two floors of a building. As with any structural component, a stairway can define the style of a home.

Spanning various styles and materials, we’ll take a look at staircases that may wow, inspire, or excite you. Others may bore you, irk you, or leave you feeling dissatisfied. Whether you’re looking for modern staircase, minimalist staircase, spiral staircase,  or contemporary staircase ideas Home Stratosphere has you covered.

It’s only when you stop to look at the individual elements of the staircase that you can begin to decipher your responses to it. How is it constructed? What elements are showcased? What parts are minimized? What building materials are used?

As a short primer, some terminology can be helpful.

As you know, staircases are made up of steps. Steps in turn are usually made up of a tread – where your foot lands – and risers – the vertical portion between the treads.

Supporting the treads and risers are what are called “stringers”, typically one on each side. Stringers hold up the treads and risers.

The balustrade, or railing system, is the system of handrails (banisters) and spindles (balusters) that keeps people from falling over the edge.

Beyond this, there are many other components of a staircase – present in some, and missing in others – that make up its design.

Let’s take a look at a sampling of some staircases. You can decide which ones work for you, and which ones don’t. Keep in mind that the context of a staircase is just as important as the staircase itself.

New & Updated Photo Gallery

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Designed by: Canny

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Designed by: DADA Partners

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Designed by: Canny

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Designed by: Canny

Main parts of a staircase

In order to get a better understanding of stairs, check out our parts of a staircase diagram to the right.

Main parts explained:

Riser:  The riser is the height between steps (i.e. treads).  Some stairs have closed risers while others have open risers.  You’ll notice that many of the modern staircases in our gallery have open risers.

Tread:  A tread is the step.  Some modern staircases have floating treads jutting out of the wall or a central pole in the case of spiral staircases.

Newel:  The main supporting post at the bottom of the staircase.

Stringer:  A stringer can be open which gives the staircase a jagged side profile (see diagram to the right).  Stringers can also be closed which means the treads (steps) are placed into grooves.

Baluster:  The “fence” so to speak running up the length of the staircase.  Balusters can be a series of spools but can also be closed in with glass or other materials.  In some staircases (see our gallery below), the baluster is a series of horizontal cables.

Handrail:  The railing sitting on top of the baluster.

Depending on the complexity of the staircase, there may be many other components, but the above list is a listing of the main components found on most staircases.

Diagram showing the parts of a staircase

Types of Stairs

As you research and look at many staircase photos and designs, you’ll quickly notice that there are not many different types of stairs.

The following are the main types of stairs:

  • Straight stairs;
  • Quarter-turn;
  • Half-turn;
  • Three-quarter turn;
  • 180 degree turn;
  • Circular;
  • Winding;
  • Spiral; and
  • Bifurcated.

Stair Materials

For the home, most stairs are built with wood, but some are glass, steel or even concrete.

As for the step material, wood, carpet, laminate, concrete and glass are the main materials.  I’m partial to carpet on the stairs, not because it looks best, but because it’s soft and offers additional grip.  Hardwood surface stairs, while they look amazing, can be deadly.  Besides, we have young kids and I’m much more comfortable with them on our carpeted stairs than our hardwood stairs.

If you have hardwood stairs and have the same concerns, you can easily install a carpet runner which can look great.  You see the hard wood on the side of the carpet.  It’s a nice effect and very practical.

Below is the original staircase gallery.  We kept it because many people bookmark our site and may want to be able to see the original.

Original Photo Gallery

Simple, but beautiful, open riser wood and steel staircase.
This is a staircase featuring open risers. The open risers contribute to an airy feeling. The simple balusters (spindles) keep the look contemporary. In short, this staircase features a fresh look with the wooden slab-like treads matching the wood floors and juxtaposing smartly with the white interior.
Open riser with glass balustrade and black stringer staircase
Open risers, black stringers, glass balustrade, and a wooden landing give this staircase sophistication. This is a strong staircase that asks to be noticed.
modern stairs
A minimalist approach to stairs. Wooden plank siding, stairs, and a door to match.
A sharp set of stairs leading into an open kitchen area with dark wood flooring.
stairs
Light wood steps and risers against a stark white wall make these stairs pop.

 If this minimalist staircase appeals to you, you may enjoy this project featuring a simple metal staircase in an ultra modern home.

Ornate woodwork staircase with a patterned runner.
Ornate woodwork marks this staircase. The runner matches the balustrade’s decorative feel and the sweeping curve of the staircase makes a grand impression.
White riser with black balustrade and wooden tread staircase.
These stairs feature white risers, wooden treads with matching wooden trim, black ironwork balustrade (railing system), and an open spandrel (space beneath the stairs). The winder steps help to change the direction of the staircase. The look is somewhat retro, but appealing.
Wooden staircase with open risers and spindles wrapped in metal.
The exposed wood of these stair stringers and open risers give the staircase a contemporary feel. The newel post that holds the handrail in place at the first step is finished with brushed metal, an elegant touch. This design feature is echoed in each of the spindles. This is a minimalist and elegant staircase.

 If you love the look of minimalism combined with natural wood, be sure and check out our partner features by PartiDesign!

Concrete stairs with wooden balustrade
The concrete of this staircase is contrasted with the warmth of the wooden balustrade. The look is simple, yet unique.
Glass and white staircase set against a concrete wall.
With the landing enclosed in glass and a glass balustrade, this closed riser staircase is unique. Set against the concrete wall, it creates a feature of itself. The copper/brass-like colour on the tops of the balustrade are interesting and fresh.
black and white staircase with no balustrade
Dark and simple, these stairs feature a relatively deep tread and disappear partly into the upper floor. An interesting effect. The lack of a handrail give it a contemporary vibe. Building codes may vary regarding this lacking feature.
Slabs of wood compose this beautiful floating staircase.
These contemporary stairs are beautifully constructed. Appearing almost as if floating, the risers are all but non-existent. The polished wood that matches the flooring has a beautiful effect. The lighting alongside the stairs substitute for a railing.
Solid and substantial, the treads contrast with the lack of a spindle or risers. The look is incredibly effective.
Classical stairs with dark wood and white risers and spindles.
Here we have white risers contrasted with the dark wood of the treads and handrail. The first step, known as a bullnose step, features a volute, a curving handrail element. The look is classical and elegant.

The darker wood on these stairs is offset by the beautiful lighter wood of the glossy hardwood flooring. 

Modern wooden staircase with matching treads and risers, complete with an open metal balustrade.
Nearly appearing as a carpet runner, the matching tread and risers of this staircase give a very uniform look. The simple banister with no spindles gives it an open, airy feel. This is a modern and fresh feeling staircase.
Simple wooden stairs with white risers and metal spindles.
Although this next staircase may look deceptively simple at first, once the homeowners have moved in with their possessions the simplicity of this design will come into better focus. The simple unadorned spindles and hewn wood balustrade make for an attractive combination.
Traditional white and wood staircase that is elegant.
This is a staircase with a traditional look: the handrail and treads match, with the spindles and risers painted white. The spindles are relatively standard, but help to give the staircase a decorative feel. Note the neutral runner. A runner on wooden steps can make a staircase more accessible, particularly for children and the elderly.
The starting step in this staircase, also known as a bullnose, gives a finished look with its wider and rounded profile. The newels, used to anchor the handrail, match the handrail in this case.
Traditional staircase with heavy spindles, oriental carpet like runner and wooden treads.
Hefty stair spindles, set close together, give a sturdy look that is offset by the white colour. The stairs themselves are natural wood, and have an oriental-like carpet runner. This is a boldly traditional look.
Staircase with ironwork balustrade and carpet runner.
An Oriental-like carpet runner secured with a brushed metal stair rod gives a rich look to these stairs. The heavily ornate spindles work with the runner, while the stair rod lends a contemporary finish.
Modern staircase with metal balustrade and wooden hand rail and treads.
A banister that matches the treads, open risers, metal spindles and the use of winder steps (eliminating the necessity of a landing) all make up this contemporary staircase.
Completely glass balustrade with no hand railing.
The elegance of this staircase can be attributed to the showcasing of the wooden stringer, treads and risers. These portions all seem to meld into one piece. The glass balustrade allows the heavier construction of this staircase to not get “bogged down”, and even the lack of a handrail suggests the airy nature of this piece. The staircase fits the traditional look of the home, without giving any hint of dowdiness.

 A well placed area rug is always in style!

Tiled staircase in bright colours.
Brightly tiled risers give these stairs a quirky and fun appeal. The curved wall – acting as balustrade – keep the look from being too angular. The treads are tiled in a terracotta-like colour and allow the colour of the risers to shine.
Staircase with landing and shallow treads.
Short white risers that melt into the stringers, dark wooden steps and a simple metal balustrade have a modern feel. The staircase almost feels as if suspended. The uncluttered use of space is restful on the eye and the clean simple lines work well in this home.
L-shaped staircase with open construction.
Here is an L-shaped staircase with open risers and wooden slab-like treads. The supports to the treads have a horizontal length that run perpendicular to the treads. The contrasting colors give plenty of visual interest and the simple balustrade allows this design to really stand out.

Grand staircase at a palace.
Although clearly not residential (this is the Grand Kremlin Palace), this staircase is an example of grand architecture and styling. The exaggerated bullnose steps (starting steps), shallow pitch line and curved balustrade all contribute to the royal feel. The red runner extends well beyond the end of the staircase and invites the eye upward, while the ornate metal scrollwork of the balustrade contributes to an aura of grandiosity.

 Click here to view more luxurious palaces!

Wooden staircase with open risers and no balustrade
Open risers, exposed stringers, no balustrade and natural wood fit well into this habitat of bamboo, blonde wood, white and glass.
Open riser staircase in a modern home.
Again featuring open risers, these stairs keep this relatively narrow space from feeling claustrophobic. The curve in the staircase allows for a break in the stairs without the use of a landing.
Open staircase with interesting balustrade and diagonal like structural elements.
Diagonal structural components acting partially as risers on this staircase give visual interest. Along with the balustrade, the look is sculptural and contemporary.
Modern sculptural staircase.
Black treads contrast deeply with the white walls and brushed metal of the structural components of this staircase. Sculptural in form, this is an intricately designed staircase. A bold look.
Carpeted stairs with curved balustrade.
These carpeted stairs that come off a foyer in a modern home have a dramatic curve to them. The curve successfully keeps the upper level private from the foyer and provides visual interest. A wall is also created by this closed design, keeping the living area somewhat separate.
Glass and steel staircase.
Showcasing further use of glass, this staircase not only relies on glass for its balustrade, but also utilizes glass for its risers. The contrasting metal structural components ground the staircase for a glamorous look.
Sophisticated looking stairs and railing system, with brushed metal finish.
The look of these open floors have more to do with the railing system than with the stairs themselves. Simple and functional, the brushed steel is elegant, with a hint of industrialism, due to its emphasis on functionality.
Elegant spiral staircase with open risers.
Although we were not going to showcase spiral staircases, this is one exception, if only to show the possibilities that this design allows. The open risers, beautiful curves, glass and wood speak for themselves. The lack of a central newel post is what gives the ethereal look to this marvel of a staircase.

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