x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

A plain stairwell is a missed design opportunity

Try these tricks for a well-appointed stairway that defines the look of a living room or hallway.

We live in a loft apartment. The stairway that leads to the bedroom level is a prominent space and is in desperate need of some design attention. What would you recommend?

Most people neglect the stairway in their home, which is a real missed opportunity. A well-designed stairwell can define the look of the space it leads to, especially if it's part of your living room or entrance hallway.

The two key elements of a staircase are the treads (the flat surface you step on) and the risers (vertical length between the treads). Typically, they're clad in the same drab material. Simply changing the material on one of these surfaces can transform the look of your staircase.

To give it a warm and luxurious feel, add wooden treads. Nordic Homeworx in Dubai (www.nordichomeworx.com) manufactures custom-made pieces that can be glued on to your existing treads.

Adding a carpeted runner to the stairs is another way to articulate the space. For old-school elegance, pick a Persian design and add brass bars to hold the carpet in place. For a contemporary spin on this idea, get a company such as EGE carpets (04 375 6490) to personalise the runner with your favourite quotes or imagery. They can digitally print any graphic onto a carpet.

Without a carpet, the risers dominate the composition. Adding some character here will not go unnoticed. Why not introduce colour and pattern through Moorish mosaic tiles on your risers? Pick tones that complement the overall colour palette of your home and try to pick up accents in the rooms that the staircase leads to.

If you love the airy look of open risers and want to achieve it without structural work, clad your risers with mirror-polished stainless steel panels. The reflective surface will create the illusion of floating steps.

Celebrate the stairway's height with a statement piece. Conventionally it would be a large chandelier but a series of smaller objects can be equally striking. For inspiration, have a look at the butterfly installation in the Fashion Avenue at Dubai Mall.

No design is complete without illumination. Light up the space for a dramatic effect. Place rechargeable LED lights on treads or add large candles in glass hurricanes (Pottery Barn has a gorgeous selection).

Finally, don't neglect the walls. Introduce wallpaper or a dash of colour. Art, picture frames, wall-mounted candle holders and 3D text can add real character to the space.

Pallavi Dean is an award-winning independent design consultant who practises in the UAE. If you have a question for her, email homes@thenational.ae