Asked on Jan 06, 2016

How do I make my stairway look wider...and brighter?

Jenny Ogg
by Jenny Ogg
I am looking for help, ideas and inspiration please! As you can see from my stairs in the picture they are quite narrow and ...dull and boring and beige. Does anyone have any ideas on how I could make the stairs look wider? There is not much natural light from wither up or downstairs. I also want to change the handrail on - any ideas for that? Funds are very limited so any budget ideas are warmly welcomed. I should maybe add that I like rustic/vintage/shabby chic styles. Thank you in anticipation! :-)
My boring stairway!
  20 answers
  • Color. You need color. What is your favorite color? Go with a bright blue, yellow, or even green. I would paint below the trim white. I would just put in a simple handrail. I would even think about doing a collage wall of photos or artwork (with frames of varying sizes and shapes) on one side to bring some personality into the hallway. Do you have a light fixture? If so, change it out to a chandelier and add LED lights and light that hallway up.
    • See 3 previous
    • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Jan 06, 2016
      Why not add a paper wainscotting with a bit of trim that complements your handrail. You can often get really good buys on discontinued, etc. Lots of colours, patterns, etc. Easy to remove when you tire of it.
  • Kayo Frazier Kayo Frazier on Jan 06, 2016
    Here's my 2 cents...1 ~ Remove the carpet. 2 ~ After taking out the staples & anything else that was needed to tack down the carpet...Sand down the tread part of the stair & the riser. 3 ~ Paint the tread part of the stair w/ a black primer & then several coats of a charcoal grey & finally a poly this will be dark enough to cover for dirt tracked in from outside. 4 ~ For the risers paint each one w/ different colors, prints, patterns...Make them eclectic & funky. 5 ~ If there is a favorite color in the risers that you used all the way up the stairs you can use that in a much lighter color on the walls. 6 ~ I would remove the current handrail & replace it w/ a traditional one on BOTH walls & paint them black so they can be seen even w/ the lights off. 7 ~ Add artwork & mirrors to both walls all the way up to the top. Hope this helps.
  • Becky Vaughn Becky Vaughn on Jan 07, 2016
    Remove carpet, stain or paint step tread. Get colorful tile and add this on the front of the riser. There is many kinds and colors.
    • Jenny Ogg Jenny Ogg on Jan 07, 2016
      @Becky Vaughn thank you I love this idea - have seen similar on pinterest using different wallpapers or paints on the riser. I am going to keep the carpet for now though as I have kids and the noise is something I need to consider. However, once they're grown up and left home...!
  • Wanda.ll Wanda.ll on Jan 07, 2016
    Why not get some of those tube lights and run right next to the bottom trim too. Might do some boxes with trim going up to top also. Break up the long bit to make it seem shorter.Paint inside of boxes some bright color( yellow, blue, purple, red anything bright then mute it down a bit it to bright with some colored wax.
    • Jenny Ogg Jenny Ogg on Jan 07, 2016
      @Wanda.ll thank you - I have been looking f lighting ideas so this is one I will look into as well.
  • Jenny Ogg Jenny Ogg on Jan 07, 2016
    Wow thank you everyone - I am now armed with lots of ideas and inspiration from the other side of the world! I love it! I shall make a start at the weekend! :-)
  • Jenny Ogg Jenny Ogg on Jan 07, 2016
    Now armed with many ideas and lots of inspiration. No work carried out as yet but aim to start this weekend. Love this site! Thank you!
    • Tom Tom on Aug 02, 2021

      Did you ever finish the staircase? We basically have the same stairwell and looking for inspiration!

      many thanks


  • Jamal Jamal on Jan 07, 2016
    1-If there is an ability to decrease the riser of stair ,you should do that . 2-Take of the side terrazzo to make wide . 3-change the handrail with aluminum one. 4- Use off-white color. .
  • D fuhrman D fuhrman on Jan 07, 2016
    i would remove the carpet and paint the stairs or stain them. then for some pizzazz how about stenciling the back of the stairs(the part your foot doesn't walk on)? it's fast and very inexpensive to do.
  • Sarah Sarah on Jan 07, 2016
    Mirrors always makes a narrow space look wider.
  • Donna Robb Donna Robb on Jan 07, 2016
    Strip off carpet, paint walls and riserscreamy white....sand step and urethane...presto brand new look
  • Ran2188341 Ran2188341 on Jan 07, 2016
    I'd do all the above said, but also wall hangings sparse and up high on the wall, like a shelf with a couple items to draw the eye higher up
  • Monique Tyler Monique Tyler on Jan 07, 2016
    I would also remove the carpet stain the steps, paint the walls add some mirrors and family photos jazz it up...good luck!
  • Pat recka Pat recka on Jan 07, 2016
    Make the color of the stairs and lower part of wall the same
  • LD LD on Jan 07, 2016
    Take the current handrail and strip down to bare wood and apply Minwax Polyshade, which is a stain and polyurethane in one step. Remove the carpeting from the stairs, stain the steps and paint/stencil the risers. Replace the lighting in the upstairs hallway with directional lighting with clear bulbs to give more light.
  • Candace Ogen Candace Ogen on Jan 08, 2016
    Paint walls and treads and put wallpaper that looks like books on the risers
  • Cindi Cindi on Jan 08, 2016
    I have these glittery starbursts with mirrors in the center. They are just narrow metal rods, that go out from the center, kind of a bronze gold with glitter, and a mirror in the center. I have two of them going up the wall, as you go up the stairs, but I have a tri level, so the stairs are shorter. You could make something like that pretty easy, I assume, and I'd put those round touch lamp in the center for light, or mirrors, or alternate them. I like Linda's idea of stripping the handrail down to wood and stain it, and I'd put some polyurethane on it to make it shine. It would give light and a whole different look to the stairs.
  • Claire Shoemaker Claire Shoemaker on Jan 08, 2016
    Just completed a similar project. Removed the carpet and painted the steps white. Lots of prep work sanding and getting steps ready for painting. I added decorative wood to partition the walls. I used paintable wallpaper from Lowes on the bottom part of the wall. I painted the top portion of the wall a gray and the lower portion two shades lighter. The white stairs and handrail made the walls pop. Intend to add stair treads to finish the project.
  • Ann Ann on Jan 08, 2016
    I'd take the carpet off and sand and paint the stairs so it looked like a carpet runner down the middle. With contrasting colors it should make it appear wider.
  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Jan 10, 2016
    To make a space appear brighter, keep the colour light. To make a space appear wider, introduce horizontal stripe or changes of colour. I disagree with making the handrail dark for 2 reasons: 1. this will introduce another separated object in the space, distinct from the wall, which naturally appears to fill the space up, and 2. darkening the handrail will make it appear as a vertical stripe of colour, which naturally appears to make the space look more narrow.
  • Sparkles Sparkles on Jan 19, 2016
    check Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. type in stairs or staircases. they have painted, carpeted, tiles, lights for stairs and even glitter stairs.