Yay or Nay: Step Up Your Staircase Game with This Modern Design Trend?!

By Brittni • Updated on 02/15/2024

A white stair screen is added to an airy living room to add dimension. See how to "Step Up Your Staircase Game with This Modern Design Trend" #staircase #stairs #stairscreen #moderndesign

No more are the days of generic stairs clad with waist-high knobby railings or, gasp, completely enclosed staircases.

Chip and Joanna (yes, I watch Fixer Upper and am bummed that the show is no more, despite the fact that most of the designs aren’t my style) would be demoing those walls before you had time to say stairwell, I mean, farewell.

The once closed-off or bulky / traditional staircase is slowly being replaced by a sleeker, more sophisticated design. And honestly,  I can’t say I hate it.

In fact, I actually really love it. Particularly, the wooden stair screen.

Sounds a bit chard to picture, but if you’re into open spaces, natural light, and millwork that won’t bore, you might want to consider adding this concept to your “Dream Home” pinboard ASAP.

The stair screens that capture my attention most, blend mid century modern and asian minimalism, which I think are surprisingly well-suited for a variety of styles.

I could really see this going well with boho and California coastal, mountain house, or minimal modern homes, could you?

The vertically placed wooden “fins” provide a touch of room division without skimping on light and airflow, but they also create an incredible focal point in any room.

Now, if I could just figure out how to DIY this in a rental space. Haha.

Here are some examples of the wooden stair screens I’ve been eyeing…

1. (above) For a light and airy Scandinavian option, this partial screen painted white is a subtle way to maintain usable wall space, while adding depth and dimension to the room.

(Image via Hengky Decor)

Vinegar Hill Brooklyn apartment via General Assembly uses a staircase screen to add design interest. See how to "Step Up Your Staircase Game with This Modern Design Trend" #staircase #stairs #stairscreen #moderndesign

2. Stair screens also work great for small spaces, surprisingly, like this Brooklyn apartment from General Assembly.

Create an interesting desk nook, framed by stained wood fins that won’t close off the room too much, or feel too overwhelming.

I’m also loving the gestural artwork peeking through the slats.

(Image by Joe Fletcher for General Assembly)

A modern staircase feature via Mim Design. See how to "Step Up Your Staircase Game with This Modern Design Trend" #staircase #stairs #stairscreen #moderndesign

3. Paint your screen and stairs black for a simple contrast against stark white walls.

Mim Design took on this project wanting to give a family home a fun but modern twist, which I think they executed pretty well.

Loads of drama in this design choice with the high contrast. 

(Image by Derek Swalwell via Mim Design)

Custome staircase screen by Leanne Ford from Restored by the Fords.See how to "Step Up Your Staircase Game with This Modern Design Trend" #staircase #stairs #stairscreen #moderndesign

4. If you’re a fan of HGTV’s Restored by the Fords, I’m sure you caught a glance at the custom millwork install they did that featured a curvier stair screen in raw wood.

(Image by Alexandra Ribar via Leanne Ford)

Custom staircase millwork for a design by Williams Burton Leopardi. See how to "Step Up Your Staircase Game with This Modern Design Trend" #staircase #stairs #stairscreen #moderndesign

5. I love how this staircase design from Williams Burton Leopardi takes an otherwise simple slatted screen and extends it into a feature ceiling piece in the adjacent dining room.

It helps warm up the cement floors and black walls.

I also feel like this wouldn’t be a terribly daunting project to complete. Maybe I’m crazy…

(Image via Williams Burton Leopardi)

Asian modern staircase design via Hey!Cheese. See how to "Step Up Your Staircase Game with This Modern Design Trend" #staircase #stairs #stairscreen #moderndesign

6. This home is obviously not lacking natural light (Can we please talk about the size of those skylights?), so it only seems right to keep the stairwell as bright and light-filled as the rest of the home.

This asian modern design feels so simple, yet dramatic. I especially like how it draws the eye up toward the open loft space.

(Image by Hey!Cheese via Behance)

Check out this outdoor installation by Kollaboratoriet using slatted wood partitions. See how to "Step Up Your Staircase Game with This Modern Design Trend" #staircase #stairs #stairscreen #moderndesign

7. And lastly, a slightly different take on the wood stair screen.

This outdoor space from Kollaboratoriet has been turned into more of an art installation using slatted partitions, and I’m a big fan. Instead of closing off the stairs, they’re left completely open.

Let’s just ignore whatever safety codes they’re breaking, and just enjoy the innovation of the project.

(Image by Feileacan McCormick via Arch Daily)

What are your thoughts on this design trend? Too much modern, or just the right amount?

I think you know my thoughts already, so I’m super curious to hear yours!





11 comments | Click here to reply

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Loved the look but in Michigan we have rules about handrail necessity. I was surprised to see no handrails. I suppose you could hang on to the vertical bars but not sure that would pass inspection.
I had a beautiful open stairway but when I went to sell it the buyers financerrequired a railing and hand rail even tho there was a hand rail on the closed side. I’m sure the buyer removed it once he moved in.

Ann C

[…] This trend reminds me of the Brady Bunch […]

Thistlekeeping - Thistlewood Farm

Hello, Staircases photos are awesome In my house just simple (straight) staircases. I think that we would take a look at a few dramatic staircases that surely make a good statement!


I have iron stairs and after watching your post i want to this kind of wood stairs. I think it good for my home park. Thanks for the good idea.


My paranoid self would never opt for the half covered stairs. However, this style is absolutely up my alley.


Yay or nay? SO MUCH YAY! I love these staircases. Numbers 1, 4 and 6 are especially dreamy… I also like how each photo looks pretty different – they’ve all interpreted the trend in different ways. So on board with this.


My paranoid self would never opt for the half covered stairs. However this style is absolutely up my alley. Its modern and chic and seems to be the missing piece for all the half railed staircases, no pun intended. Loved the article!

Sarah Montgomery

I am here for this trend! Absolutely love 1, 5, and 6.


Number 5 looks absolutely spectacular! Definitely the coolest version.


These staircases look awesome!

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