Staircases are becoming far more than just a practical feature that you use to move from the one storey of your home to the next. Creative architects and designers are turning this essential feature into a functional and aesthetic part of your home décor, so you need to ensure that you showcase it as much as possible.
Staircase Lighting Ideas
Besides showcasing the decorative side of your staircase, you will have to keep in mind that it has to be safe to use and the use of lighting covers both functions. Keep the following ideas in mind if you are designing a new home with a staircase or just remodeling an older one.
- Plan ahead
Before starting with the building or remodel of the staircase take the time to plan the lighting, even though this is one of the last features to be added. This planning will allow for the electrician to install the wiring that will be needed before the plastering is complete. If you are using recessed lights you will need to know how many will be included as these don’t need to be placed one per tread, but neither can they be too far apart. Openings must be left by the builder for recessed lights.
If you decide on wall, overhead or recessed lights your electrician will also need to draw the right number of outlets with cabling pulled through.
- Create a smooth flow
If you need the lighting to be more functional than decorative, don’t be tempted to make it overly bright. The lighting of the staircase should match the brightness of the rest of the lights in your home and they should create a smooth visual flow from one area to the other. Aim for simple elegance rather than a harsh glare.
- Light up those steps
In the absence of a baluster, your staircase may be dark, even during the day. If the steps are lipped, then strip lighting is ideally placed underneath each step. These are best installed by a professional for a perfect final effect. If your staircase doesn’t have an extended lip you can add the strip lighting to the base of each step, where it connects to the next one. Here the LED strip can also be extended up the side walls.
- Don’t be blinded by the light
Lighting must be placed so that you don’t have to squint against its glare making your descent quite a dangerous undertaking. Marker lights must be recessed into the wall and make sure that the lumens are correct for the desired light. There are many small lights available to give a subtle glow to each step. Recessed lighting can be added to every third or fourth step, so that it’s ample yet subtle.
- Staircases with open risers
Many modern staircase designs have open risers that look as if they are floating. In order to stay with the theme, even when the staircase is lit up, you can hide a LED strip on the underside of each riser and the staircase will continue to give the illusion that it is floating. Another interesting approach is to have the sides of the stairs lined, this highlights the floating effect by drawing attention to the fact that the stairs are not secured to the side of the wall.
- Create focal points
Often, staircases are built with an open riser; a good example is the spiral staircase. Once completed, the staircase can be lit from below to create a focal point on its underside. You will still have to light the steps above for safety and to enhance it.
- Show off designer features
You may choose to give your staircase other design features and these will also need to be lit. Recessed walls are often chosen to give an L- shaped or U-shaped landing some interest. You can use spotlights within the recess to illuminate it and the decorative elements that you have chosen to display in them and have recessed lights against the wall for the stairs. The combined lighting will create a layered lighting effect.
- Use wall lights to decorate your staircase
If you prefer to go for something a little more elaborate than strip lights and spot lights, then you could consider wall lights or sconces. Their design can range from the simple to the more elaborate, but just make sure that they won’t protrude too far from the wall posing a risk for injuries. Plan to have just enough to light up the stairs without them being too much. You can opt for them to create either up or down lighting. If you are going to be using a ceiling light at the landing or entrance, make sure that they match.
- Light up the railings
Lighting up the railing with an LED strip can create a stunning design feature on a new or older staircase. This is very effective on railings that don’t curve around any walls. If your staircase has a slanted baseboard, the LED strip can be just as effective creating ample light and an interesting feature.
- Ceiling lighting
A safe staircase is lit from top to bottom and in the absence of proper lighting at these two points, you could consider hanging a ceiling light. Chandeliers and other interesting ceiling lights can add an interesting focal point to the staircase.
Indoor staircase trends are continuously changing as do their designs. Modern staircases aim to conceal many elements that were previously visible, and this includes the lighting. Nowadays staircase lamps are incorporated entirely into the structure of the staircase. The staircase, rails and lighting merge with the lighting system in one design.
Colored LEDs are also becoming trendy and are used to highlight staircases with a dash of color.
Finally, in order to prevent accidents you should ensure that there are light switches at the bottom and top of your staircase. If you regularly make use of your stairs to get to a bathroom or kitchen during the night, adding LED strip lights that are left on all night are an excellent safety measure.