Swooning for Staircases

Wednesdays are the day I take to answer reader design dilemmas and I have to say it is such a fun day. I just love the combination of working with my design clients and then helping hundreds of readers weekly in Just Ask, so send your questions in friends. Today we are talking about entryways, staircases and railings.


Q. We are building a new home and I “think” I want an interesting railing but my husband wants basic spindles, help! We both agree on white wood spindles with a stained wood hand rail. Roxanne

rail3 A. The stairs and railing may be one of the first things your guests see when they enter your house, making that first impression. I design and select dozens of railings a year for clients and would love to share a few tips on how to select and design the best railing for your entryway. Evaluate the entryway/foyer and decide where the wow factors will be. Will the railing be the wow factor or will it be the floors, the walls or a combination of all these elements? Consider the options for each of the design decisions below before choosing the actual railing style.

1. Style of staircase; spindles, straight, a combination of both or fretwork.

2. Style of the posts, will they be decorative or plain. Style and finish of handrail.

3. Flooring; bold and shiny, natural stone or wide plank and rustic are just some ideas. If the goal of the flooring is to complement the design elements in the foyer than a simple twisted spindle or straight spindle is the perfect choice.

4. Wall details; wainscotingmillwork or moldings going up the staircase.


Above, a plain and simple staircase design with matchstick spindles and plain posts create a sleek modern aesthetic. The lines of the moldings, floor choices and furniture complement the chic modern vibe in this entryway. Below, why not mix various styles of spindles to create an eclectic look, loving the turned post in a stained wood finish at the base. I prefer the handrail in a wood finish because it does not show daily wear and creates a nice contrast to the crisp white wood. Further below, a classic entryway with consistent spindles is a vision in white.




I just adore the look of fretwork railings and custom designs. From the highly detailed to the more basic modern versions, fretwork creates a real wow factor in any entryway. Again, you need to decide if the handrail will be in a finish or painted white and what the look and finish of the posts will be. I hope these ideas and design steps will inspire you to design a fabulous entryway that reflects your personal style and vision.



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  • Kate

    I live in a ranch, but OH would I love a second level with one of these gorgeous staircases.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cathy.wolfram.1 Cathy Wolfram

    I do love ranch style homes but would miss my staircase :) Thanks for visiting today.