Stairways are frequently afterthoughts in the home even though they are invaluable passageways that allow us to get from here to there. As well as serving a practical purpose, stairways also provide architectural interest and can really define a room. Whether you’re considering giving your stairs a makeover or building an entirely new stairway, you will want to consider both safety and looks.

Lighting is an important element of stairway design, which can boost both safety and visual appeal. First, consider the style of your home or your stairway. Contemporary style stairs lend themselves to minimalist lighting solutions such as building sleek rectangular fixtures into the adjacent wall.

You can also build sleek lighting into the stairs themselves. Slim, rectangular fixtures placed on the front of each stair offer a modern, symmetrical look while providing adequate lighting.

For lots of drama, choose lighting that illuminates your staircase with an ambient glow from beneath, beside or within the stairs. This can really highlight the architecture of your stairs.

For other safety tips when lighting your stairs, you can turn to the principles of universal design, which aims to make the home easily accessible to people of all abilities, whether children, seniors, or those with a disability. Such concepts include lighting handrails, placing lights just under the nosing (or edge) of each stair, installing recessed wall fixtures as mentioned above, and making stair faces dark so it is easier to gauge their height.

When thinking about stairway lighting, don’t forget staircases or steps that may be outdoors in places such as the front entry, porches, and patios. The bonus of having outdoor stair lighting is that it adds to the ambiance of your outdoor living space, which you can enjoy when sitting outside at night.

Some of our favorite outdoor stair lighting possibilities include adding path lights, which look like little lanterns and are installed in the ground beside the stairs; recessed wall lights of all styles; a row of small lights across the face of a wide stair if there are only a few; uplights imbedded on top of stairs; and stairs that appear to glow from underneath.

By using these lighting strategies, you’re sure to create a great looking and safe staircase inside or outside your home.

For new build or remodeling projects or help designing your own staircase lighting, contact TMS Architects.

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