Wallpaper ideas for stairs – 10 ways to add interest and intrigue to your staircase

Stamp personality on your space with these beautiful staircase wallpaper ideas

Wallpaper ideas for stairs Little Greene Paradise wallpaper in Feather from the Archive Trails collection
(Image credit: Little Greene Paradise wallpaper in Feather from the Archive Trails collection)

Wallpaper ideas for stairs are often over-looked, but stairwells are actually the perfect to showcase beautiful prints and decorative designs. 

Occupying only a small part of your home and one that is used for short periods of time, the staircase is the perfect location for those big patterns that might feel overwhelming elsewhere. 

Connecting two floors together, stairwells offer a large expanse of wall that can be used as a blank canvas on which to stamp your personal style and make a real statement across two stories. For a smaller dose of pattern – you could also consider papering the wall area below a staircase – which is an area easily ignored. 

With so many staircase ideas to choose from it’s tricky to know where to start, so we’ve rounded up an array of eye-catching wallpaper ideas as well as expert tips to get you inspired.

Wallpaper ideas for stairs 

Including wallpaper among your hallway ideas and entryway ideas not only helps bring visual interest to this transient space, they are also a vehicle for showcasing your personality.

If you’re considering wallpaper ideas for stairs then there are a wide array to choose available, from show-stopping panoramic murals, botanical prints and other wallpaper trends, to timeless stripes, but before you decide, there are some key things to consider as the type of design and how it is used can really alter how a space feels. A good place to start is to take a good look at the space taking into factors such as light levels, room size, room orientation and materials already in a space as well as the decor of adjoining rooms.

‘Hallways and stairs are fantastic spaces to create a first impression for guests, but also the first area you enter when returning home, so consider how you want your home to make you feel,' says Says Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene. 'Consider the views into the hallway or onto your stairs from other rooms, how much do you see, how will the design you choose flow into the other rooms?’

1. Bring the outside in with bespoke mural

Hand-painted Redwoods panoramic wallpaper de Gournay

(Image credit: De Gournay / Chris Andre)

Often stretching across multiple stories, stairwells offer the opportunity to decorate walls differently and make a real statement. If you are after something truly breathtaking, consider a bespoke mural which captures the majestic beauty of nature.

'Through spaces like a stairwell provide great opportunities for doing something strong,’ says Jemma Cave, design director of de Gournay. ‘As you don’t have to be with it all day, you can do something more fun in this kind of space.’ A panoramic mural can not only transport you to another space, but by choosing a nature-inspired design, the boundaries between indoors and out can become blurred, especially if the exterior as glimpsed from windows echoes the scene on the walls. This will have a restful, restorative, comforting effect.' 

2. Add classic elegance with a refreshed toile design

Manueal Canovas Nara wallpaper in Celeste

(Image credit: Manuel Canovas Nara wallpaper in Celeste )

Contemporary wallpapers inspired by archive designs such as toiles are guaranteed to bring a feel of romance to a stairwell – and will inject your home with a touch of history, too. 

Originating in the 18th century, in the French village of Jouy-en-Josas, toile de Jouy also known as ‘toiles’ was historically linen cloth printed with engravings of romantic pastoral scenes, but today there are wallpaper companies today that offer printed wallpapers inspired by the toile fabric designs which are refreshed for the 21st century. A modernized toile inspired by Japan in timeless blue and white, this Nara design by Manuel Canovas features scenes of pagodas perfect for bringing a touch of the exotic. 

‘Many of today’s florals and toiles have been given a contemporary twist through the use of fresh color combinations so they can be enjoyed in both modern and traditional interiors,’ says Daniel Slowik, associate design director, Sibyl Colefax & John fowler.

‘Combining the patterns with neutral or plain color tones – and adding colorful block-printed cushions and rugs always works well. Hanging carefully chosen modern pictures can also enhance the modernity of the colors in the designs. Plain floorboards in a light colorway or white keeps the room looking fresh as does stone and natural flooring. Play up the freshness of the designs by combining them with contemporary ceramics and baskets.’

3. Use wallpaper to make a feature of a staircase

Little Greene Paradise wallpaper in Feather

(Image credit: Little Greene Paradise wallpaper in Feather )

Wallpapers for stairs are a brilliant idea for open plan spaces, as Ruth Mottershead explains.

‘As more people embrace open-plan living rooms, homes often now include stairs that are open to a living space. Rather than treating them as a separate area, incorporate the stairs into your design scheme with a coordinated color palette, or create a statement with the addition of a beautiful wallpaper which will create a personality-filled design statement.' 

We think this flamboyant Paradise design would really turn heads. Try teaming it with velvet green upholstery and ornate fixtures to bring extra glamor to the space.

4. Choose versatile stripes for a timeless feel

Sanberg Kristina Blue Wallpaper

(Image credit: Sanberg Kristina Blue Wallpaper)

For stairwell decor that will stand the test of time you cannot go wrong with a classic stripe in an ever-popular blue and white palette. 

Blue and white decor is timeless, and one of the most classic interior design combinations, perfect for creating a serene yet fresh aesthetic. When used in conjunction with stripes, this masterful combination works beautifully in country or coastal retreats to create chic spaces that look relaxed and informal at the same time. 

5. Soften stairwell wallpaper with complementary paint colors 

Little Greene Richmond Green wallpaper in Stella

(Image credit: Little Greene Richmond Green wallpaper in Stella )

Wall-to-wall print can sometimes be overwhelming, so for a more pared-back look consider papering just one of a stairwell or hallway and teaming it with plain walls and woodwork in colors picked out from the design for a cohesive scheme.

'Consider your woodwork color carefully – rather than opting for traditional white, consider pairing with co-ordinating or contrasting colors to deliver a considered and inspiring interior,' says Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene.

6. Inject glamor with a metallic wallpaper 

Sefina wallpaper in Wild Rose

(Image credit: Sefina wallpaper in Wild Rose)

It can be hard to know what to do with the redundant wall space under a stairwell –why not use it as canvas for showcasing a beautiful wallpaper and bringing a touch of personality to your home? If the space is feeling dull and lifeless consider a design with metallic detail which will glitter when it catches the sunlight. Metallics work beautifully with pastel pink shades, as this Sefina wallpaper in Wild Rose wallpaper from Romo proves.

7. Use a ditsy nature-inspired wallpaper for a calm feel

Scandi-style green wallpaper in a hallway

(Image credit: Chris Everard)

If you love pattern but are looking for a calm yet cheery to welcome when you return home, consider a small-scale repeat floral design is a good option. Bringing pretty pattern and personality without powering your space, ditsy Scandi-style florals like this design in a fresh green are guaranteed to lift spirits after a long day. 

8. Paper half a stairwell to break up high ceilings

Little Greene Broad Stripe wallpaper in Mullion

(Image credit: Little Greene Broad Stripe wallpaper in Mullion)

As well as bringing color and pattern to a room, wallpaper can also be used as a clever device to change how a space looks and feels. Large stairwells can sometimes have a tendency to feel cold and drafty – in these instances consider breaking up the wall by papering the ground level section. 

A timeless stripe in a warm neutral such as Little Greene Broad Stripe wallpaper in Mullion will subtly break up large wall expanse whilst keeping a space feeling bright and welcoming. 

'For those interiors without a dado rail or panelling to naturally divide the wall, a stripe of a darker paint tone is an effective way of adding a design detail that is also hardwearing and practical,' says Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene.

9. Celebrate nature with a leafy print and green woodwork

Wallpaper for stairs

(Image credit: Chris Everard)

If you have a country home with a large entrance hall why not use it to pay homage to your beautiful rural surroundings with a nature-inspired wallpaper? Large, occasional spaces are a brilliant canvas for ornate prints to really shine, plus they can help them feel more intimate and welcoming. 

10. Use the stairs to showcase a playful paper

Off Piste wallpaper by Linwood

(Image credit: Linwood)

If you’re a fan of mid-century design then there’s a wealth of printed wallpapers that reference archive designs and, as an occasional space the stairwell is a brilliant place to display them. 

In an attempt to differentiate from their previous collections, Linwood has released a new one-off whimsical winter wallpaper with a mid-century feel. Off-Piste is derived from a 1950s document discovered in a French archive and captures the fun, thrills and exhilaration of the slopes. Its stylised skiers have been captured in a chalky color palette of red, yellow and green on a monochromatic ground that is true to the original.

Can you wallpaper a staircase?

A staircases is a great place to add wallpaper. As a 'linking space' that we tend not to  spend long amounts of time in, you can afford to be bold with your decor in a stairwell. Wallpaper is an exceptional way to introduce elements of color, pattern and personality. Staircases are also everyday spaces that can get lots of wear and tear, so remember to think about practical, durable wall treatments.

What is the best wallpaper for a staircase?

The best wallpaper for a staircase will depend on many factors, so it is a good idea to evaluate what you want from the stairwell and the existing qualities of the space before you start. Pay attention to factors such as light levels and the existing materials in the space such as flooring and internal woodwork as well as the decor of adjoining rooms.

‘Hallways and staircases can often be narrow with little natural light so consider using color and pattern to create a design scheme that brings warmth and light to the space,’ advises Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene. 

As everyday spaces staircases can get a lot of wear and tear, this is also something to bear in mind when thinking about interior design, explains Ruth Mottershead.

Pippa Blenkinsop
Pippa Blenkinsop

Lover of all things vintage, floral and country, Pippa has been working in interiors media for 10 years. A graduate of Art History, and Style Editor for Period Living magazine, she is a nostalgic soul who is passionate about historic architecture and traditional craftsmanship. When she's writing about homes and gardens you'll find her pottering on her Gloucestershire allotment, Pippa's Plot, where she grows flowers for styling her own home and interiors shoots.