No one particularly enjoys taking the stairs. Sometimes we even dread it a bit—reaching the top a little more tired than when we started, wishing we were in better shape. If we could avoid it, we would.
Cover the treads with paint, add an artful handrail, or swathe the walls in a graphic wallpaper, though, and suddenly the climb doesn’t feel so arduous. It might even become your favorite part of the day. We’ve got a spring in our step, and it’s all because of these eight jaw-dropping staircases.
The Wild Child
Sasha Bikoff’s over-the-top stairway for the 2018 Kips Bay Decorator Show House reminds us clashing can be cool. The designer fully committed to her Memphis vision with squiggle motifs and hits of turquoise and pink. What you can’t see is that the runner changes around every corner of the four floors, keeping visitors on their toes.
The Sculptural Ascent
A zigzag handrail is the star of this Wes Anderson–inspired restaurant in Chengdu, China. The Budapest Cafe’s whimsical design is rooted in opposites: sandy terrazzo versus powder-coated color, solid walls versus open space. If you need a hand in finding interesting finishes, look no further.
The Candy-Colored Case
Opening Ceremony’s Tokyo shop put a fresh spin on two classic patterns, stripes and polka dots, by playing with scale and using a palette of blue, dusty pink, and lavender. The almost-dizzying display is accentuated by the repetition of the patterns on the risers and treads.
The Monochrome Moment
Australian designers’ current infatuation with clean lines can be perfectly summed up by Kennedy Nolan’s Caroline House project. The Melbourne-based architecture firm stuck with a sleek silhouette for the moss green steps and railing, letting the color do the talking. The floating form is also ultra-functional—it leaves a ton of usable space below.
The Paint Job
This home designed by Leanne Ford, lover of all things white, makes yet another case for going freehand. Let the paint can fall where it may à la the HGTV star or opt for something a little more streamlined, like a large stripe.
The Floral Arrangement
Most of the time, carpeted stairs make us think of dated basements. But in a bold pattern paired with flowery wallpaper and a bright railing—maximalism at its finest!—the runner underfoot in this Edwardian cottage by London’s 2LG Studio feels fresh.
The Personal Touch
Inspiration can be found in the most unlikely places. Boston-based artist Nadège Roscoe-Rumjahn had one of her herringbone motifs, shown over the entrance of her front door, printed onto a white steel banister.
The Throwback Palette
Sasha Bikoff has two rad stairwells under her belt. For NYC’s funkiest gym, 305 Fitness, she turned the stairwell into an homage to ’80s pastels. Anyone who walks up it is in for a workout; luckily, the stairs are the easiest part.