Take a step up to create unique decor

People don’t often obsess about stair risers.

When considering any sort of home design, most people focus on big things: furnishings, paint colors, window treatments, accessories, floors, ceilings and and the looming possibility of an addition or remodel.

But I think stair risers are worthy of a little obsessing.

Interior stairwells are functional. They take you from bottom to top, and back again. They may curve gracefully, spiral tightly, criss-cross horizontally or have a straight shot from one floor to another. They can be the focal point in a foyer, leading to a family loft, or tucked away in a private hallway that leads to bedrooms or a basement.

You have probably seen exterior stairs flanked with terra cotta tiles, with the stair risers covered in brightly colored ceramic tiles. Homes and public buildings with Spanish and Mediterranean influence often incorporate these decorative accents. The result is charming, colorful and artistic.

So why not bring this same flair into your home? Perhaps you have a plain wooden stairwell tucked away. Even the stairwell corridor is plain. There are no windows, just an over-glorified ladder consisting of 11 steps leading up. This area deserves decorative attention.

Take a step up to create unique decor
Tape trim and nail heads can bring a wow factor to a stairwell.

Paint is a convenient option for most hands-on projects needing a little facelift. A painted stair riser, either in the same color as the trim throughout your residence or a contrasting paint color or two, would add interest and a decorative pop.

Several online retailers found on Etsy will take your stair riser dimensions, stain plywood to coordinate with your floor and create a design with a painted stencil. They ship the panels to you to install.

Tile is another great option for risers indoors and out. It can be a fun and festive way to bring in color, texture and sheen to an otherwise drab stairwell. Have a conversation with a contractor on how best to install.

In a previous Pioneer column, I wrote about using a temporary peel and stick decal to decorate wooden stair risers. Many online vendors sell these stickers for any vertical surface you want to accentuate. Just like clothing, try it on for a bit before deciding to keep it.

And let’s not forget about carpet – a tried and true application for risers and stairwells. While you may not solely focus on the riser with carpeting, you can source metal rods that decoratively hold the carpet in the back corner of each step tread. You can also trim the edges of the carpet with heavy canvas tape trim and nail heads that hold the carpet in place.

Stair risers may not be at the tippy top of your to-do list, but the stairwell is a significant focal point that can be embellished just like any other within your home. Choose an application that works with the design of your residence and enjoy a little obsessive decoration.

Jennifer Leischer is the owner of J. Designs Interior Design based in Clayton. Contact her with questions, comments and suggestions at jenna@j-designs.com.