24 Stair Railing Ideas That Look Modern and Sleek

By KRISTIN HOHENADEL
Kristin Hohenadel
24 Stair Railing Ideas That Look Modern and Sleek

Stair railings are a safety feature with strict building code requirements designed to keep you secure while navigating the various floors of your house. Whether you plan to install a DIY stair railing with or without the use of a cost-saving shortcut stair railing kit, or hire an architect to create a custom staircase from scratch, the choice of stair railings is an important design decision that can set the tone for your space.

While dated stair railings from past decades can make a home feel tired and neglected, well-preserved or restored classic styles add charm and character to a period home. Contemporary stair railings can add a big dose of style to a new build or make an older home feel current.

Check out these staircase railings in various styles, materials, and configurations to inspire your own project.

  • 01 of 24

    Modern Farmhouse

    modern farmhouse stair railing

    Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

    Black cross metal stair railings add a polished modern farmhouse touch to this comfy family-friendly living room from Emily Henderson Design. The white walls contrast with the striking dark railing.

     
  • 02 of 24

    Art Deco-Inspired

    art deco stair railing

    Studio Surface

    Interior designer Michelle Salz-Smith of Studio Surface told us that she collaborated with a local craftsman to create the one-of-a-kind, Art Deco-inspired stairwell railing above for a home in Del Mar, California. “We love bringing architectural nuance to unexpected places like railings,” Salz-Smith says. “Negative space should be considered when determining the silhouette of a railing. It should also play nicely with other key design elements.”

     
  • 03 of 24

    Industrial Black

    modern stair railing

    Anne Carr Design

    In this kitchen remodel from Los Angeles-based Anne Carr Design located blocks from the beach, a graphic black staircase adds an industrial touch to the light and airy vibe of the bright kitchen space.

     
  • 04 of 24

    Iron Bars

    Stair railing ideas

    Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

    In this mountain retreat from Emily Henderson Design, everything was designed with simplicity in mind, including the black iron stair railing. “We designed it to be so simple and sleek with no decorative detailing,” Henderson writes on her blog, “except the wood on top which matches our wood on the floor.”

     
  • 05 of 24

    White and Bright

    white metal staircase

    Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Tessa Neustadt

    In this airy, light-flooded living room from Emily Henderson Design, a simple, pristine white linear railing lines the stairs in and out of the multi-level space and acts as a guardrail to the lower level. The railing has such a slim profile that it nearly disappears in the sunny space, leaving the focus on the views, furnishings and decor.

     
  • 06 of 24

    Mixed Materials

    metal wood wire stair railing

    Brophy Interiors

    This simple modern mixed material stair railing made of wood, wire, and metal from Brophy Interiors has a clean graphic look. Its light profile allows the under-stair wine storage, lit up like a jewel box, to stand out.

     
  • 07 of 24

    All-White Wrought Iron

    painted wrought iron stair railing

    Design by Calimia Home / Photo by Jeanne Canto

    This Florida home staircase from Calimia Home includes a painted white wrought iron staircase that reinforces the airy, all-white feel of the foyer. Painting a traditional wrought iron staircase is an easy alternative to modernize the 1930s home while maintaining the original character.

     
  • 08 of 24

    Sculptural

    contemporary stair railing

    Kara Mann

    In this contemporary interior design from Kara Mann, a sculptural white staircase is a monumental statement that adds luxurious contours and an organic feel to the neutral space. The gleaming white enclosed structure of the staircase is augmented by minimalist black railings that follow the curves of the staircase from floor to floor, adding contrast.

     
  • 09 of 24

    Wood Slat Wall

    wood slat stair railing

    Jen Talbot Design

    In this home renovation by Jen Talbot Design, a staircase spanning multiple floors includes simple handrails and a wall of floor-to-ceiling wood slats that allow air and light to pass through. Talbot referenced the warm wood tones of the existing staircase with a burnt orange sofa. Otherwise, she stuck to a neutral palette of black and creamy whites that put the focus on sculptural furniture with curves contrasting with the staircases’ linear lines.

     
  • 10 of 24

    Walnut and Glass

    wood and glass stair railing

    Design by Scenario Architecture / Photo by Matt Clayton

    In this renovated period townhouse in London, Scenario Architecture kept the original layout of the home rather than creating an open-plan space. But they created a sense of spaciousness and openness by renovating the staircase using warm walnut and glass that offers transparency and allows light to filter through to the hallway. The mixed materials feel fresh and modern, but the streamlined design feels timeless enough to last.

     
  • 11 of 24

    Fishnet

    fishnet stair railing

    Design by Scenario Architecture / Photo by Luke Hayes

    Upstairs in the same London townhouse renovation seen above, Scenario Architecture created a playful family lounge space lit with skylights. The maritime-themed curved steel walls and staircase are secured with fishnet, a surprising alternative material that functions as a stair railing with a sense of openness. The project demonstrates the impact an irreverent design choice can have on your space.

     
  • 12 of 24

    Curved Custom Steel

    steel staircase railing

    Cousins & Cousins Architecture and Interior Design / Photo by Jack Hobhouse

    In this UK home renovation by London-based Cousins & Cousins Architecture and Interior Design, a bespoke sculptural steel staircase creates visual interest and lush curves with an industrial edge, creating a solid stair railing that is both secure and a showstopping centerpiece.

     
  • 13 of 24

    Modern Minimalist

    tension rod stair railing

    Design by Merrett Houmøller Architects / Photo by Alan Williams

    In this North London home renovation from Merrett Houmøller Architects, metalworks firm Design + Weld built a minimalist, contemporary staircase and balustrade using tension wire combined with a laser cut frame and bespoke CNC-turned fixings.

     
  • 14 of 24

    Blue Perforated Metal

    blue powder coated metail stair railing

    Design by Deferrari+Modesti / Photo by Anna Positano

    In this apartment outside of Prato, Italy renovated for a young couple by Deferrari+Modesti, the blue powder coated iron staircase was conceived as a piece of “micro architecture” that creates a focal point in the space. The railings consist of a mix of iron bars and painted perforated sheet metal in varying configurations that allow light to pass through the stairwell and between floors.

     
  • 15 of 24

    Red Powder-Coated Steel

    red metal stair railing

    OreStudios

    Shiny red powder-coated steel and metal grid wire create a scene-stealing industrial-inspired centerpiece in this light and airy home renovation from Seattle-based OreStudios.

     
  • 16 of 24

    Play of Squares

    abstract modern stair railing

    Design + Weld

    London-based metalwork firm Design + Weld designed this inventive “Square Staircase” concept for a private client. The geometric design incorporates a series of squares that create an unconventional railing with built-in book storage. Fewer components mean there’s less surface area to dust on cleaning day.

     
  • 17 of 24

    Floating Glass

    glass staircase

    Martin Barraud / Getty Images

    This transparent floating staircase forgoes conventional stair railings in place of thick sheets of transparent glass that create a floating effect.

     
  • 18 of 24

    Fresh Classic

    traditional stair railing

    JMorris Design / Photo by Jacob Snavely

    When your home is graced with an original staircase, the best choice of stair railings is to preserve the history and elegance of existing details. Case in point: this lovely renovated Park Slope, Brooklyn brownstone by JMorris Design. A fresh coat of white paint allows beautifully crafted embellishments to shine, while black paint on the handrail offers contrast and a graphic punch.

     
  • 19 of 24

    Wood + Steel + Glass

    wood glass steel stair railing

    Louis Duncan-He Designs / Photo by Eymeric Wildling

    This glass, steel, and wood double stair railing from Louis Duncan-He Designs adds contrast with the natural brick wall and complements white walls. A monumental pendant light adds warmth.

     
  • 20 of 24

    Wrought Iron Scrolls

    wrought iron stair railing

    Design by Leanne Ford Interiors / Photo by Reid Rolls

    This Los Angeles home from Leanne Ford Interiors has a gently curving wrought iron staircase with scroll detailing that gives it charm and character that complements the tiled staircase. White walls and modern styling gives the entry an updated feel.

     
  • 21 of 24

    All-Black

    all black modern stair railing

    Louis Duncan-He Designs / Heather Dunbar Photography

    This contemporary all-black staircase from Louis Duncan-He Designs mixes wood and perforated metal to create a dramatic look while allowing the light to flow through, maintaining an airy feel.

     
  • 22 of 24

    Light Wood + Metal

    wood and metal staircase

    Kate Marker Interiors

    This modern staircase from Kate Marker Interiors is integrated into the space using light wood to match the flooring and door frames, and the thin black metal stair railings mimic the large black metal paned window.

     
  • 23 of 24

    Wall-Mounted Stair Railing

    contemporary stair railing

    Brophy Interiors

    This open staircase from Brophy Interiors uses mixed materials and contemporary forms to create an impression, from the chunky floating wood steps to the tempered glass. A simple black hand railing mounted on the white brick wall provides something to hold onto.

     
  • 24 of 24

    Tension Wire

    floating staircase

    Jacek Kadaj / Getty Images

    This modern staircase combines floating wood steps anchored by a streamlined metal stair structure with tension wire stair railings that allow the staircase to maintain a light and airy profile.

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