The Best Stair Railing Designs

The stair railing is a safety feature that must meet strict requirements to ensure your safety while you navigate the different floors in your home. You can choose to install your stair railing with or without a cost-saving shortcut railing kit. Or, you can hire an architect to design custom stairs.

While old stair railings can make an older home look tired and neglected, classic styles that have been restored or well-preserved add character and charm to the house. Modern stair railings add style and modernity to new builds or older homes.

Browse these different styles, materials, and configurations of staircase railings for inspiration.

Modern Farmhouse

Emily Henderson designed this comfortable, family-friendly living space. The white walls contrast beautifully with the dark railing.

Art Deco Inspired

Interior designer, Michelle Salzsmith of Studio Surface, shared with us that she worked closely with a local craftsman to create this unique Art Deco-inspired railing for a home in Del Mar, California. Salz-Smith tells us she loves bringing architectural nuance into unexpected places, like railings. When determining the shape of a bar, negative space should be considered. The fence should also work well with other design elements.

Industrial Black

A graphic black staircase gives this bright and light kitchen from Anne Carr Design in Los Angeles, located blocks from the beach, a touch of industrial style.

Iron Bars

Design Emily Henderson designed this mountain retreat. They designed everything, even the black iron railing on the stairs. Henderson writes in her blog that “we designed it to look so sleek and simple with no decorative details, except the wood on top of the stairs which matches the wood we used on the floor.”

White and Bright

This airy and light-filled living room by Design Emily Henderson features a white, linear railing that runs along the staircases in and out of this multi-leveled space. It also acts as a safety barrier for the lower level. The bar is so thin that it almost disappears into the room. This allows the view, furniture, and decor to take center stage.


This contemporary interior design by Kara Mann features a white sculptural staircase that makes a statement. It adds a luxurious feel and organic contours to the neutral area. The staircase’s gleaming white structure is enhanced by black railings, which follow the curves from floor to ceiling, creating contrast.

Wood Slat Wall

Jen Talbot Design has created a staircase that spans multiple floors in this home renovation. It includes a simple handrail and a wall of wood slats from floor to ceiling. This allows air and light through. Talbot matched the orange sofa to the warm wood tone of the staircase. She chose a neutral color palette of black, white, and cream, emphasizing sculptural furniture.

Walnut and Glass

Scenario Architecture chose to keep the original layout in this period townhouse renovated in London rather than create an open-plan area. They created openness and spaciousness by renovating their staircase with warm walnut and transparent glass. This allows light to pass through and into the hallway. The mix of materials feels fresh and modern, but the streamlined style is timeless.


Scenario Architecture designed a family lounge area upstairs in the same London renovation shown above. Skylights light the space. The curved steel walls with nautical themes and the staircase are secured using a fishnet. This material is a surprising choice that creates a feeling of openness. This project shows the impact a design decision with a sense of irreverence can have on transforming your space.

Before using unusual materials for stair railings, DIYers must consult with professionals and adhere to building codes.

Custom Steel

London-based Cousins & Cousins Architecture and Interior Design carried out this UK home renovation. A bespoke sculptural staircase created visual interest and lush curvatures with an industrial edge. It also made a secure solid stair railing and a show-stopping centerpiece.

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