Are your stair railings functional or fashionable? Here at J.T. McDermott, we believe they can be both! Most of the time, railings kind of seem to fly under the radar. We don’t notice them unless they’re dated and out of style… or exceptionally good.
It is possible to get the best of both worlds from your railings. For the perfect combination of fashion and function, read on to find the ideal railing for your needs, your style, and your home.
Everything You Need To Know About Stair Railings
For those unfamiliar with staircase terminology—don’t worry; it’s a bit of a niche skillset—let’s clear up a few terms before we start.
- Newel posts are the vertical structural beams that support the staircase. There will typically be one at every landing.
- Balusters are the decorative vertical spindles you see in between the newel posts.
- A balustrade is the beam that goes over the top of the balusters. It’s both decorative – in that it serves as an attractive finishing piece on the railing – and functional – in that you can use it for support while walking up or down the stairs.
- The handrail is effectively just that: a safety rail for you to hold while using the stairs. While a balustrade is supported by balusters, a handrail is most often wall-mounted.
- Risers are the vertical pieces between one step and the next.
- Treads are the horizontal stair pieces that you put your foot on.
Rustic Wood Stair Railings
Timeless wood railings never go out of style. They look just as good in a cozy cottage as in a chic mid-century modern home. For the newel posts and balusters, select simple, unfussy shapes. Square is an excellent choice: stylish but not edgy, and straightforward but not cold. Forgo carvings, decorations, and all forms of excess. This kind of railing – and staircase – looks wonderful in a single color: try a medium cherry stain or something warm-toned. Let the quality of the wood and the craftsmanship speak for itself. You don’t need anything fancy – keep it simple!
Take a cue from the stylings of 17th and 18th century Europe with a traditional railing design. You’re probably familiar with the sweeping, majestic staircases seen in Victorian mansions and period piece films. Well, those are a perfect example of the beauty of traditional design. While the stairs in your own home probably aren’t going to look like the one in Buckingham Palace, you can evoke the same kind of grace and elegance with a traditionally-styled staircase. Choose newel posts and balusters with curved shapes, rounded edges, and intricately carved designs. Dark, polished wood makes for a beautiful balustrade, especially when paired with matching dark wood treads and white risers, posts, and balusters.
Industrial Stair Railings
Industrial style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but those who love it, LOVE it. The key to an industrial-styled railing is to keep it sleek and simple. Metal, chrome, and concrete are favorite industrial design materials, and you’ll often see more severe shapes than in other types of design. For your industrial stairs, stick with simple, angular shapes and lines. Choose newel posts and balusters that appear streamlined, almost as though they’re made of a single piece of metal. Because balusters are purely decorative, nothing is stopping you from orienting them horizontally for a chic look that keeps the eye traveling upward. If you’re going all-in on the industrial effect, why not pair a black metal railing with floating concrete treads? It’ll look great complemented by a wall-mounted industrial pipe railing.
Ups and Downs
This modern twist on a staircase looks beautiful and can be adapted to almost any style of home. Instead of the typical railing design usually seen in homes, try something different: create a staircase screen using vertical beams. This approach provides a kind of lightweight divider wall between the stairs and the rest of the room while still allowing plenty of air and light to circulate through. You can use wooden slats, metal rods, or even suspension cables to create this look. Forgo the newel posts and balusters, and stick with a streamlined wall-mounted handrail for support when climbing the stairs. Depending on how you style it, this design can give off a very mod 70s-esque vibe or a streamlined Scandinavian look. It’s super versatile and definitely a unique feature that will draw the eyes of your guests.
At J.T. McDermott, we are passionate about creating a vision that will awe and inspire our clientele. If you’re ready to invest in that vision, we would love to work with you. Connect with us today, and let’s see what we can build together.
Brittany received her interior design degree in 2010 and recently earned her kitchen and bathroom certifications. She sees her job as much more than just picking out pretty colors and materials – it also involves exact measurements, plenty of planning, and determining how to have a space accurately reflect the lifestyle of its occupants.