Stairs and hallways – often places we pass through without giving the decor much thought. Often confined or awkward spaces that we paint a light shade by default. But stairways are the perfect place to experiment with colour, as these images show. They occupy a unique space in any building, linking different floors and possibly diversely decorated spaces too. They are dynamic – one travels up or down and one’s view changes with every step. They are multi-surfaced, with not just the floor and walls being a surface for colour but also the hand rail, underside or even individual treads being a site where contrasting shades can be used to great effect. We’ve rounded up some of the most striking examples of stairs being transformed by bold or clever colour ideas, including stairways designed by world famous architects, designs and artists. Give your interior a step up with some of these ideas.
Stairs inside Walter Gropius’s Bauhaus Building in Dessau. The whole interior was designed to a detailed colour plan that aimed to accentuate the construction of the building.
Le Corbusier’s staircase for the WeissenhofMuseum, two semi-fetched houses designed by the architect in Stuttgart. Though these stairs are on a domestic scale, Le Corbusier was a master of a sweeping staircase.
This staircase by Memphis founder Ettore Sottsass is from his design for fashion label Esprit’s flagship store in Koln, Germany, a company with whom he has had a close association
Elsewhere the graphic side of Memphis’ signature style got a contemporary reimagining for another flagship store, this time the Opening Ceremony Store in Tokyo
Here a subtler colour shift on this floating staircase emphasises the stair’s role as a point of transition, in this case leading you up to the lighter floors above
While an even more focused chromatic spectrum is used to dizzying, joyful effect to play games with perspective and layers in La Muralla Roja in Spain, an apartment complex designed by Ricardo Bofill
Master of colour, the painter Paul Klee, was a great advocate of colour theory, and applied the same principals to complex effect in his own home
Even the most seemingly austere and minimalist stair designs can be brought to life with the application of bold colour on a single plane