Spiral staircase with bespoke chandelier dropping through four storeys
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Staircase lighting

Staircase lighting can be dramatic, subtle, functional or all of these.  Stairs are often a key focal point in a house and lighting staircases can accentuate this, leading your eye through from one space to another.

There is no one “right way” to light staircases.  It very much depends on design, construction and and desired look and feel.  That said, are some sensible guiding principles that can help your bring a structured approach to desgning lighting for your staircase.

Plan your staircase lighting early

Fixing points are a key consideration in planning staircase lighting.   Whether you’re lighting from above, at tread level or in the wall or string it’s really important to factor in the staircase lighting to the plans to get the desired effect.

This striking concrete and marble clad staircase is lit by little LED ‘mushrooms’ located on each tread.  Lighting the stairs from above would have flattened its lovely curves and nothing could be fixed on to the glass balustrade.  LD64 accent lights were the perfect solution.  A ground recessed Magna fitting uplighting the smooth plaster underside complements the tread lights.  The combination highlights the sinuous nature of the structure.

The wonderful lighting shown here very nearly didn’t happen.  The staircase was cast and in-situ before our clients commissioned us.  We were lucky with the building team.  We found the ideal lighting solution and with the co-operation and persistence of the building team  – one of whom spent days core-drilling the structure for fittings and cable access – we achieved this stunning end result.

Staircase and living room lighting
Staircase lighting detail - recessed linear fittings built into treads of wooden staircase

Consider the practicalities of staircase lighting as well as the “wow” factor

These narrow stairs have been given a dramatic but discrete treatment. A golden linear LED fitting under each tread warms the oak and provides excellent no glare lighting.

The design and construction of the stair detailing was quite complex; fittings had to be invisible from any angle, yet easily removable for maintenance if required.  We liaised closely with the staircase providers to define exactly how the risers, nosing and cable access were constructed.  The end result has worked perfectly and transforms what could be a plain corner of a games room into a welcoming, visual link between the main entertaining space and the mezzanine above. The key to delivering this level of finish is integrating the lighting design into the wider build plans at an early stage.

  • Cantilever staircase with underlit treads and wall uplighting
  • Uplighting a concrete spiral staircase

Think about lighting your stairs from a different angle

The stairs are the ‘spine’ of this house, connecting two main areas together. The massive oak balustrades have been offset with a line of light on the underside of the stairs.

The lighting ‘lifts’ the area with a deftness of touch.  It is completely glare free, and concealing and accessing the light fitting was considered at a very early stage in the stair design.  The light source is an energy efficient very warm white linear LED fitting. Shadow gap lighting is a fantastic way of lighting staircases but it requires a lot of early planning and close co-ordination between all the members of the design and build team.

  • Stone spiral staircase with illuminated treads from LED accent lights
  • Spiral staircase with bespoke chandelier dropping through four storeys

    Two very different approaches to lighting a spiral staircase. The stone staircase features a narrow LED accent light shining across the treads. The narrowness of the fitting makes it easier to install cleanly into the curved wall.

    The custom 36 drop chandelier falls four storeys through a beautiful modern spiral staircase by Bisca.

Stircase lighting above the stringer in a period house

Carefully selected modern light fittings can work well on stairs in period homes

Discrete angled LD42A LED fittings provide subtle stair lighting on the back stairs of this super old country house. This treatment works well on carpeted treads and the very low glare nature of these particular fittings makes them particularly nice to use.  The LD42A accent light features angled optics and a glare shield making it ideal for stair lighting.

The small size and subtlety of the fitting blends well with more traditional style houses making this a very versatile solution.

External links

Bisca Staircases