16 Awesome Stair Trim Ideas

If you’re trying to spruce up your stairway and are looking for different design ideas to help get you started, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered up some great ideas for different options of trim along your stairwell. While trim is a small feature in your decor, it can really pull together a look or add in some valuable detail to your overall design. Staircase trim is something that shouldn't be overlooked. 

It can be easy to get overwhelmed with all the options that are available for stair trim. To help you out, we pulled together a variety of pictures of stair trim to help get your creative juices flowing! So without further ado, let's get to it, shall we?

A modern house with a winding staircase, wooden stair railing and carpet flooring staircase, 16 Awesome Stair Trim Ideas

Make It Classy With Traditional Wainscoting

Wainscoting is a type of wall treatment that uses boards, paneling, or wooden frames attached to a wall to build some kind of geometric design. Traditionally, wainscoting is square, by way of four-sided frames, placed next to each other on the wall to create this wall treatment. This decorative feature generally comes up to about chair-rail level and makes the space feel a little more complete than it does without it. 

1. Contemporary traditional wainscoting

An old fashioned staircase with wooden flooring and white painted banister

Contemporary style is added to this cozy stairwell by the stunning contrast between the white and brown colors on the steps. With the soft, yet defined, edges of the wainscoting, you're sure to invite all the cozy feels with this look. The neutral colors allow for more freedom with decoration, leaving room to change out small details to fit the seasons as they change. 

2. Elegant and well-stated

A winding staircase with a carpeted flooring, white painted banisters, and a wooden railing

This curved stairwell brings in two elements of trimming: a spectacular take on traditional wainscoting, and a curvy railing as a counterpart. The elegance with the soft, red stair treads adds a feel of air and class to the trim along the steps.

Cozy Beadboard

Beadboard, technically, falls into a category that is known also as wainscoting. Like wainscoting, beadboard is made from wood that is adhered to the wall next to one another to create a wall treatment.

However, it differs because instead of being made from square four-sided frames, beadboard is a row of narrow wood planks that are aligned vertically and fastened to the wall. In between each plank is an indented line, which is known as the bead.

3. Seaside Cottage

Beadboard does wonderful creating a very nautical seaside cottage kind of feel. Traditionally it is one solid color, generally a lighter color, that has some dimension from the bead-sized indented lines that go from top to bottom of the wooden planks. Coupled with the right decor details, this narrower stairway really gives it a home-at-the-beach atmosphere. 

4. Embrace the rustic

By taking beadboard and coupling it with some distressed wood, decor, and paint you're able to really hone in on the rustic mood that makes a place feel lived in and loved. 

5. Darken it up

Though traditionally you'll find that beadboard is light in color, it doesn't mean it's a hard and fast rule. You can also choose to darken it up to create a chill, cozy ambiance. The dimension still works very well to bring in that warmth, and in this case, it is emphasized by the warm color scheme. 

6. Decorate the risers


You're not limited to the walls when it comes to beadboard. Make some smaller panels and add them as an accent piece on your step risers. This will tie in the coziness given off by the beadboard, but your statement will be more subtle.


Shiplap “wainscoting” gets this classification because it meets the same requirements as far as the wall treatment building method goes. This design encompasses a wall completely covered in long planks which are generally white or another very light color. 

7. Distressed accents

It is also possible to use shiplap to create a rustic mood by distressing the accented pieces put around the shiplap. The shiplap design and distressed decor will feel very authentic and cozy. 

8. Moody accents

Like beadboard, you can also use shiplap to create a multi-dimensional moody statement wall. You'd do this in the same fashion as beadboard, by choosing a very warm color scheme. The dimensions that are brought in by the shiplap will add an extra layer of warmth to the statement color wall. 

Bring Out The Architecture With Coffered Walls

A coffered wall (also know as coffering) is a term used in architecture to refer to a series of sunken panels. These panels can be in various shapes and sizes, such as squares, rectangles, or even octagons. 

9. Go all the way to the ceiling 

Coffering your walls all the way to the ceiling makes a beautiful architectural statement to the room. It will really be the focal point when someone walks into the space, and will be sure to leave your guests feeling stunned. 

10. Coffer the ceiling and the walls

If you're really into different textures and like coffering, you can try mixing up the designs and coffering both the walls and the ceiling in slightly different shapes. Making one shape a bit larger and more understated than the other will keep the room feeling complete and not too busy. 

Baluster and Newel

A newel is a sturdy pillar at the top and bottom of a flight of stairs, offering support at the start and end of the railing. A baluster is a short column used within a group of balusters to support that railing along the flight of stairs.

11. Contemporary Elegance

These architectural stair pieces add very interesting and appealing lines to your staircase. With the contrast of colors and materials, coupled with the available baluster sleek designs, you're sure to find a very unique statement piece. 

Bullnose/Curtail Step and Volute

A bullnose step is the first step in the flight of stairs that has a quarter or half circle design. A curtail can be added to the bullnose step for a bit more decoration. This decorative step at the bottom of the flight of stairs extends out to one side to accommodate the volute. The volute is a decorative little spin on the end of the handrail system, which generally signifies a continuous handrail system along the entire flight of stairs.

12. Simple Design

These steps add design and a statement, but they are not overstated. They can be elegant in a very normal way, which makes them a wonderful go-to option for modern-day homes. 

Finial Addition

Finial refers to the decorative piece that is on top of the newel discussed above. This piece may be very simple, like a knob or a pointed post cap, or they can be very ornate pieces and they often are revered by antique enthusiasts. They can add so many small details to finish off pretty much any look you are going for, ranging from super elegant all the way to super cozy.

13. 'Finial' Touch

Complete the look of your room with the help of the perfect finial. This nautical rope finial adds extra character to the staircase without looking over the top. 

Modernize With Floating Stairs 

Floating staircases are popular among people who desire a modern or minimalist feel to their open-concept spaces. They can include a handrail, but as you’ll find, handrails themselves are very modest and are not made to stand out. Be sure to check out our post about how much it costs to install floating stairs! 

14. Minamlistic modernization

A modern contemporary house with wooden laminated flooring and a staircase with a glass wall stair railing

Floating stairs don't have to hide all evidence of supporting elements to the stairs. You can also achieve that modernistic decor by using glass and softer colors. This will look very clean and sleek. 

15. Black and white

This floating staircase is both minimalistic and also makes a statement. This is because of the contrast in colors. The supporting structure of the staircase is hidden, allowing a very bold and dramatic statement.

Keep it simple with skirt board

A stair skirt board is a long board that follows under the balustrade on the wall below it. These long boards can be installed under and around the stair treads and along the wall, even if the balustrade is on the other side of the stairwell. Skirt board is helpful to the staircase as it provides additional support to the structure. It also adds a more polished look overall. 

16. Subtle Accent

This skirt board adds the perfect amount of subtle accent to the stairwell. While simple in design, it adds valuable style to the overall look.

In Closing

Designing your stairway to look like a work of art only takes a little inspiration and elbow grease. Wainscoting is a tremendously valuable option. There are so many different varieties including traditional, beadboard, shiplap, and coffered wall treatments. Furthermore, if your space allows for it, you can always combine one of these options with an intricate baluster and newel design. The sky (and your space, of course) is the limit! 

If you're interested in understanding more about how much it would cost to refurbish your staircase, be sure to head over and read How Much Does It Cost To Refurbish A Staircase? Happy designing! 

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