The Next Level: 14 Stair Railings to Elevate Your Home Design

A stair railing is not just a safety feature. The newels, balusters, and railings of a staircase can make a real design statement and bring a sense of style to a space. Whatever your decor—contemporary, traditional, or ultramodern—there is a stair railing combination out there to match. Whether you opt for rustic wood, glass, or custom-made metal, you can find a style of stair rail that will elevate this architectural element from something practical to a work of art. Don't focus on just one material—combine materials like glass and wood or wood and metal to add depth and texture to your design scheme. Here’s just a sampling of what’s out there to give you ideas for your next staircase design.

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  1. Painted Rainbow


    A seemingly ordinary stair railing is made extraordinary by painting the balusters varying vibrant shades of color. With the rest of the staircase painted white, this stair rail is the focus of attention—and a cheery one at that.

  2. Glass


    A stair railing of clear glass panels, outlined and mounted in a simple metal frame, is minimalist chic. But it also keeps a small space, one that could feel dark and crowded, light and airy. In this example, without the transparent panels, the subtle under-stair lighting would be lost on occupants of the room.

  3. Modern Metal


    This modern metal stair railing picks up the black treads in the staircase and really pops off the stark white walls of this entryway. It is the perfect complement in a contemporary black-and-white decorating scheme.

    The Sunset Team/La Kaza Design

  4. Wood and Glass


    A blond-toned wood railing graces the top of glass panels in this elegantly curved staircase. Paired with similarly toned wood flooring, it gives the space a seamless look. 

    Related: Rx for Hardwood Floors

  5. Rustic


    In this stair railing, rough-hewn wood beams blend into the other architectural elements of this rustic home. The design brings the natural beauty of the outdoors inside and makes a big visual impact.

    Related: 11 Ways to Use Salvaged Wood in Your Home

  6. Wood Curves


    The graceful curves of this spiral staircase are made all the more dramatic with a rich wood railing that follows the arc completely. Fashioned entirely from the same wood, the sinuous structure is simple, beautiful, and sophisticated—and the highlight of the room.

  7. High-Tech Metalwork


    Water-jet-cut steel is the contemporary answer to the fanciful ornamentation of past architecture. Inspired by a Baroque example, this beauty was created by digitizing interlaced tree branches for a modern-day interpretation of natural design. Who wouldn’t want to walk these treads?

  8. Craftsman


    This Craftsman-style stair railing incorporates two-toned wood panels with geometric cutouts. The wood hues complement the paneling on the walls throughout the entryway, and the cutouts echo the pattern on the stained glass.

    Related: Bob Vila's Guide to Historic House Styles

  9. Geometric Gold


    The gold tones of this brass stair railing capture light and brighten up the space. A strong geometric pattern echoes the detail on the ceiling, bringing the theme together for a standout look.

  10. LEGO


    Yes, really—LEGOs! This playful and artistic stair railing is constructed from more than 20,000 LEGO bricks. The number of bricks increases as the stairs descend, intensifying the color. Outlined openings along the way add a geometric pop. Just don’t let the kids rework it!

  11. Stainless Steel Cable


    The natural beauty of wood marries the streamlined look of stainless steel cable in this DIY-friendly railing system. This contemporary stair rail requires no special tools and is appropriate for use both indoors and out.

  12. Lake Inspiration


    With its salute to water pursuits, this staircase in a lakefront home takes inspiration from its surroundings. Oar-shaped, white-painted balusters stand sleekly under dark wood rails in a unique design that makes a trim, nautical statement.

  13. Stained-Glass Embellishments


    Stained glass enhances this custom-made railing's peacock feather design. The stained-glass “eyes” of the iron feathers are echoed by circular accents throughout the balustrade. A sense of both lightness and stability, not to mention playfulness, permeates the staircase.

  14. Rope


    This dramatic beach house staircase is bounded by heavy rope, strung simply through each newel post. It’s an outstanding complement to the setting and decor.

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