Basement Stairway Ideas

Design a basement staircase that fits your space and complements the style of your home.


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Basement stairway
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Site Stairs Carefully

    If the upstairs hall and basement floor are both carpeted, you'll likely want to carpet the stairs as well. If you're building new stairs or relocating the current ones, consider which areas you're connecting before you decide on placement.

    Avoid connecting a noisy area to a quiet one. For example, a stairway from the basement play room or media room that leads near an upstairs home office or bedroom could prove disruptive. Build stairs parallel to ceiling joists to save on installation time and materials.

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Open the Stairway for an Airy Look

    Removing the door to the basement and opening the enclosed stairway created a light, airy feeling in this passage to the subterranean living space. A bar area with two beverage refrigerators--one for wine and one for kids' sodas--separates the lower-level family room from the guest bedroom.

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Use the Staircase Wall for Storage

    The staircase design you choose will depend on local building codes, your available space, and the style of your home. If you choose a U-shape design like this one, consider putting the lower staircase wall to work as display and storage space. These built-in cabinets flank a basement bar area.

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Take Advantage of Space Under the Stairs

    Take advantage of space under stairs to create accessible storage. Mullioned glass-pane doors make this smart understair hideaway look as if it's always been there. Baskets placed on the shelves are stylish storage solutions for miscellaneous things that make their way down to the basement.

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Design for a Smooth Transition

    Stairs are a transitional space, and the materials you choose for them convey a subliminal message about the character of the space they lead to. This run of carpeted stairs changes near the bottom to three steps with thick stone treads and floors of stone and dark wood. The shift in materials suits the basement's function as a wine cellar and entertaining area.

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Stencil the Stairs

    Personalize ordinary wood stairs with stencils. These stair treads were painted with homemade stencils using floor-and-deck enamel. For safety, avoid high-gloss paints and finishes that may be slippery.

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Add Style with a Custom Stair Rail

    For continuity, the same stone tile used on the stairs continues in the guest suite in this basement. The custom-crafted stair rail features stained-glass inserts and ornaments. Work with a metalsmith to design a custom stair rail for your home.

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Make a Grand Descent

    This sweeping staircase is more about design than function. A staircase like this makes for a comfortable descent from the upper level, but it also requires a lot of space.

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Go Contemporary with Open Stair Treads

    Open stair treads and railings of braided stainless-steel cable help preserve lower-level views and a feeling of openness on the staircase.

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Save Space with a Spiral Staircase

    Spiral stairs provide contemporary style and usually take up less room than other staircase designs. Typically 4 to 6 feet in diameter, they need little floor space.

    Bear in mind, however, that you won't be able to move furniture or other large objects into the basement via spiral stairs. Building codes often prohibit spiral staircases leading to rooms larger than 400 square feet.

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Create Understair Display Space

    Turn the space under the stairs into a display cabinet for collections. Wire the cabinet for lighting so you can spotlight special objects.

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Add Style with the Balustrade

    Golden oak balusters, stair rail, and a support column match the trimwork and cabinetry in the basement, creating continuity with the upstairs spaces. Adding style to the staircase can be as simple as affixing solid rectangles of stained wood to every other pair of balusters, creating pattern and interest.

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Choose a Distinctive Railing Design

    White beaded-board wainscoting, wood-tone trim and stair treads, and colorful walls lead the way down these winder stairs. The railing features a gridlike design for safety and style. (The spaces between balusters, whether posts or a grid design, should be smaller than a toddler's head.)

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Fasten Runners for Safety

    A short run of straight stairs may be all that's needed to connect a basement to upstairs living spaces. Here a door can be closed for privacy when someone is using the lower-level suite (not shown) at the bottom of the stairs.

    Installing carpet on stairs involves stretching the runner tightly over treads and risers and securing the carpet to tackless strips attached where the tread meets the riser. Stair rods or stair clips can be added for decorative effect after the carpet is in place.

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Break Up the Descent with a U Shape

    U-shape stairs lined with a Craftsman-style wooden balustrade lead to this basement. This stair design requires more floor space than a straight run of stairs, but it's a good choice when a straight run would be too steep.

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Emphasize the Diagonal

    Instead of a stair rail and balusters, this straight-run staircase features the design equivalent of three parallel handrails. The design emphasizes the strong diagonal of the staircase and maintains an open feeling for the descent into the basement. It also requires fewer materials than traditional posts or balusters would.

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Suit the Staircase Style to Your Decor

    A dramatic open-tread staircase built of industrial materials ushers visitors into a clean-lined, contemporary space designed for entertaining.

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Stretch the Spiral for a Relaxed Descent

    This sleek, open-tread staircase spirals down gracefully from the first floor, delivering visitors to the lower-level quarters with a flourish. More relaxed than the typical space-saving spiral, the staircase feels open and easy to climb as a result.

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