Overlooked… An afterthought. That’s usually the plight of a staircase and hallways. But it doesn’t have to be so.


The very fact that a staircase starts in one place and goes to anothermeans it has “action” and movement to it, whether it’s a sweeping grand piece of architecture reminiscent of “Gone With The Wind” or a simple, few seemingly modest steps in a contemporary home. They all have one thing in common – an opportunity to create drama and personality.


Because staircases are one of your home’s crossroads, they beg for design, though they’re often the last places we look to take on. Partly, that’s because there usually is no furniture and little else to decorate around.


However, there are elements worthy of attention. Molding, the color of wood, perhaps a window, a vaulted ceiling… It doesn’t take much, butit does take thought to turn little features into focal points.


Begin with a point of interest. A window given a new flair with window treatments can start the process that a piece of furniture does when decorating a new room. Look to lighting, wall coverings and paint to build off your focal point. Because stairs move us from one place to another, the “floor” or stairs themselves get more traffic and more attention.


Designers tell us that the color of the staircase – and that includesthe floor covering – needs to be part of or complementary with the room the stairs take us to. This helps with the literal and visual flow of the room and helps keep the stairs from being viewed as an appliance and more as a piece of the home’s architectural décor.


One of the great advantages of stairs is that you can mix and match a multitude of flooring types. Perhaps it’s marble or granite, evenceramic tile in the foyer leading to hardwood stairs peeking outaround the edges of an exquisite runner or a continuum of your wall-to-wall.


Details like stair rods build further interest, as does a piece of furniture at one end of the staircase to gather mail and keys or a specimen plant at the next landing. Stairs are a great place to splurge on elegant luscious wool or apetitpoint design for everyone to see and for you to enjoy every stepof the way.


If you’re carpeting your stairs, pay attention to the backing and cushion, make sure your stairs and railings are solid and secure, and seek out professional installers who know how to make your new décor as safe as it is beautiful.