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Tips for Utilizing a Stairway Wall

Ah, the infamous stairway. Does your house/apartment have one? Often, stairways are viewed simply as a way to get from Point A to Point B, and not much thought is given to the space thereafter. However, I’ve noticed that stairways provide an ideal place to exhibit one’s design style and interests or to even be useful. The ceiling may be taller on your stairway, the view direct (from other prominent rooms), and/or the possibilities endless.Check out these strategies for utilizing stairways and stairway walls, and you may see what a diamond in the rough this space really is!

Gallery Wall.

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Whether your stairway is a closed-in descending hallway or an open space readily visible from another room, this is an easy and highly effective way to use it. For one thing, art displayed is one of the best ways to showcase who lives in a space and their interests; for another, this is a great way to add color, shape, and form to a blank canvas. (Pardon the pun.) I find gallery walls particularly effective on stairways because the stairway itself is necessarily traveled…thus, people are forced to be inspired by your displays!

Outer Wall Shelves.

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For those awkwardly laid out stairways (or even for those that aren’t awkward at all but merely have a perfectly usable adjoining wall space), built-in shelves are a wonderful use of space. Because some stairways may be too narrow to safely incorporate anything within the stairway itself (I’ve been down some stairs so narrow that even a hung frame is at-risk of being knocked down), this is an aesthetic and functional option, benefiting the entire space beyond the stairway itself.

Wallpaper.

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The carefully chosen wallpaper does much to enhance a space’s style. However, if the paper print seems overbearing for the entire room, or if budgets don’t allow for whole-room coverage, wallpapering a stairway wall is a great way to get the same impact for less money. Wallpaper adds pattern and visual interest to the spaces and takes up zero real estate. I’ve noticed that this strategy works especially well with a visually lightweight railing, like this one, so the two don’t compete.

Stair Landing Shelves.

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These stairs are narrow, and there is literally no wiggle room for incorporating much onto the walls. (It looks like even that artwork would require conscious effort to avoid!) However, the good news is: this stairway has a landing, and landings often have an extra few inches to spare, because the turning steps require a little extra width. A few extra inches = bookshelf! I love how this bookshelf is painted bold red, turning it into an eye-catching architectural statement in this otherwise neutral pathway.

Wide Stairway Shelves.

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One last shelving idea before we quit here. Perhaps your stairway struggle is not with narrowness; perhaps you have the opposite dilemma, where your stair width is large, almost uncomfortably so. In this scenario, a great use of the space is to add shelves like these floating ones all the way up the stairs. Of course, sometimes the shelf will be at eye level, sometimes at foot level; this is part of the charm (and challenge!) of decorating them. But shelves like this, accessible to all who climb or descend this staircase, turn the stairway into an almost magical perspective-changing nook.

Picture sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

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Posted in How To, Tips, and Advice on January 27, 2013

About the author

Brittney Smart
Brittney is a wife, a mom of four young children, a writer and editor (B.S. degree in English/Technical Writing), and a lover of interior design. She thrives on finding inexpensive ways to DIY her own home into a stylish yet family-friendly space.

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