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41 Stairwell Lighting Ideas

Discover the best lighting for your staircases, what styles to use, where to use them, and whether or not you can do it yourself.

Showroom with a variety of chandeliers, lamps and wall lighting options

Are you thinking of remodeling the lights in your staircase? Maybe they need to be updated, or changed for something that matches the rest of your newly remodeled home. You’ve come to the right place! Here, you will find 10 staircase lighting ideas and the best place to put them.

Lighting is one of the key elements in adding personality and mood into any space and, trust me, you don’t have to consult with an interior designer to find out what to do. Picking the right lighting design can make all the difference to your interior design by casting wonderful shadows, adding ambient lighting, or an overly bright atmosphere instead if necessary. Proper lighting depends on the area you’re looking to add light to.

In order: straight stairs, L shaped stairs, U shaped stairs, and spiral stairs.

Only the first two, straight stairs and L shaped stairs, can be found as both closed and open stairways, while the other two are considered to be open.

Of course, we can’t forget the modern staircase! Open riser stairs are a popular interior design for staircases and can be found in endless variation, such as the one in this photo that has been paired with glass railings.

Not recommended for those of us with little ones running around!

What Types of Stairwell Lights Are There?

Before you decide on a new fixture, it’s good to know your lighting options. Not every style of light fixture is right for a stairwell, and let’s not forget that not everyone has the same type of stairs. So, what kinds of stair lights are there and is the one you like right for you?

Recessed Lighting

White ceiling with round white recessed lights

Recessed lights are a great way to light an area without taking up too much space. With the right choice, it can give the illusion of natural light, which is hard to find in staircases without a window nearby.

Recessed light in a square box

They can be recessed ceiling lights, commonly preferred for their appearance of natural light, or even on the wall or close to the floor. These can come in different shapes, and the fact that they are smaller than most other lights mean they’ll fit just about anywhere.

Contemporary Pendant Lighting

Close up of black wire pandant lights hanging at different levels, bulbs on, white brick wall blurred in the background

Some might argue that the pendant light has gone out of style, but according to a question asked and answered true on, although a lighting design can lose popularity, pendant lights will never truly go out of style. Thanks to the endless possibilities with bulbs and the variety of coverings to pair with them, this type of ceiling light will always be loved and preferred by some.

Close up of metal basket pendant light

Besides, you shouldn’t worry about the popularity of these lights so long as you like them! The only time to be concerned with it is if you’re designing to sell with the general population in mind. 

Multiple black basket pendant lights

Despite the most common room to find these lights in is the kitchen, they can and should be used anywhere you like – including stairwells! Hanging lights have a class and elegance that normal bulbs simply can’t reach.

Copper Pendant Lighting

Close up of a single copper pendant light, dark gray background

To prove the earlier claim, let’s combine the hanging pendant light style with something that is currently popular: copper! Incorporating copper into decoration and design has become so favorable that you can find things like copper pots and dishes almost anywhere nowadays.

Cream colored wall, 3 small copper pendant lights hanging

Even as coverings, the copper style looks great! No doubt, it provides a warm glow that will transform your drab, old staircase into something entirely different.

White background with single copper pandant light

Just like any other, you can find a copper pendant light in almost any fashion and shape. This means that no matter what look you’re going for, you can find just what you want. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your vision come to life!

Glass Pendant Lighting

Black background with small glass covered pendant lights hanging from thin wire

The simplicity of glass covered lights will never not be stylish. They are clean and classy, and already found in many homes. Just as well, a hanging or extended light fitting will always be needed or preferred somewhere.

Pendant lights with copper casing with wholes letting light from bulb to show through then an outter layer if glass

If you choose clear glass like these, it makes the lightbulb the star of the show. As you may know, you can find bulbs in pretty much any color. The light glow of whatever hue you choose for this timeless pendant light can decorate your stairs and still give off a charming appearance.


Silver chandelier with frosted bowl over bulb hanging from white ceiling

Chandeliers have held the top tier of elegance for the longest time, and that stays true for stairwells. Filling that big and open space is effortless for chandeliers and they never fail to give off excellent stairway lighting!

Upper level of home, light colored wood flooring, light gray walls, white and dark wood stair railing, black metal circular chandelier with candle like bulbs hanging from ceiling right above stairway

A gorgeous set up like this is the perfect example of a wide stairwell and the space that it creates. The contemporary fixture in this picture hangs at the perfect length, not too low and not too high, and the candle bulbs provide ambient light for the stairs. It can even light multiple floors!

Step Lighting

Black wall, wooden stairs, small recessed lighting in wall at each step

Individual step light is more of a modern lighting concept. It illuminates stair treads and is perfect if you want to see where you’re stepping and not emit too much light. I know the purpose of this article is how to get the best lighting, but in some cases minimal amounts of lighting is best.

Close up of a wooden staircase with metal and wooden railing, white walls, small white potted plants on everyother step, small recessed light in wall a few inches above step every 3 steps

For example, if you have children sleeping that are light sensitive you won’t want to turn on the big ceiling light just to walk upstairs and risk the possibility of waking them up. These small fixtures will cast light on each individual stair tread so that you don’t trip down the stairs.

Wall Lighting

Close up of a white, bowl shaped wall light, bulb turned on

Wall lights, better known as wall sconces, are a beautiful way to light your staircase. These can be made to match anything! Paint colors, stairs, decor, all of it can be complemented by your choice of wall lighting!

Close up of wall sconce with a small cream colored lamp shade on bare wall

They can be modern, eccentric, rustic, old fashioned, contemporary, and meet any of your style needs. Wall sconce wall lighting definitely has the widest array to select from. All that’s left to do is browse!

Close up of black metal with frosted glass wall sconces

Rail Lighting

Close up of black track lighting, lights turned on

Railing lights are a very interesting form of stairway lighting. Interesting, but so fun! You can choose a style like this one, which lights both sides of the staircase.

Concrete wall, close up of a wooden hand rail with lighting underneath, a mans hand under showing the light refecting off hand

Or you can try this on for size! If you’re into the minimalist look, this is one of the best choices for you. It’s also one of the simplest things to install thanks to the fact that it’s only a strip of led lights underneath the bar.

LED Lighting

Man in work overalls installing LED lights along the edge of a staircase, wooden steps and a white wall

Speaking of strip lights, LED technology has the potential to give your stairs the wow factor! These strips aren’t just for railings, either. Light strips can be used to line the ceiling or flow up the steps like a river of glowing light.

lose up of wooden stairs with blue LED lights under each step

And, for a little extra flare, try out the colored strips of LED lights or buy one with a remote to change the color to fit your mood, the holiday, or just for fun!

Fairy Lighting

Close up of a small glass jar with red and blue fairy lights in and overflowing out

Fairy lights! These strings might seem out of place and you might be right. But… you might be wrong. Try hanging them on the staircase wall and find out for yourself!

White wall, bunch of white fairy lights on wood floor

It’s a cheap and simple but effortlessly magical way to decorate your hallway. Whether it be in hanging jars or strung across the wall, these lights can surprise you by fitting in!

Closed Stairway Lighting Ideas

White walls, gray tile flooring, close up of light colored wooden steps

Closed stairwells are very common to find in houses but they can be hard to light because of the close, cramped space. That’s why I have assembled a list of 6 stairway lighting ideas that take up as little space as you might require!

  1. Stair Lights
Close up of square shaped recessed lighting on staircase right above each step

In closed or cramped quarters, stair lights are a wonderful choice.

Wood flooring, floating wood staircase with white wall and round shaped recess lighting right above steps to light up each step

They will brighten small spaces without taking up valuable space.

  1. Recessed Lights
Close up of small round shaped recessed lightingin a triangle shaped caseing

Again, these lights don’t take up much space, if any.

Wooden ceiling, close up of a single large round recessed light

They can be installed anywhere in the hallway and, despite their size, they project great amounts of light.

  1. Railing Lights
Plywood wall, unfinished steps, white hand rail with white lighting underneath

Sticking to the idea that we want to take up as little space as possible, railing lights are another option to consider.

  1. LED Strip Lights
Close up of white steps with white lighting underneath each step

Hand in hand with the strips that light railings, LED lights are a simple but effective way to illuminate stairs.

Close up of purple LED strip lights

And don’t forget the color variations. Colorful LED strips are perfect for when you’re throwing parties!

  1. Fairy Lights
Close up of wood wall with white fairy lights hanging and draped down

They may be unconventional, but they do work! You might think the glow of these lights are dim but they get brighter in smaller spaces due to the fact that walls are closer and reflect the light more.

Close up of woman with long nails holding delicate white fairly lights turned on

For a magical or holiday appearance, these lights get the job done!

Open Stairway Lighting Ideas

Arial veiw of a staircase, dark wood flooring and steps with white railing and white walls

Why is all that space there if it’s not meant to be filled?

Naturally, any light fixture that works in a closed stairwell will also work for a bigger, open stairwell. Larger lights, though, aren’t able to fit in smaller spaces without taking up too much room. Open stairwells are where these 4 fixtures really get to shine!

  1. Chandeliers
Close up of a blue/gray wall, silver chandelier hanging from ceiling

Of course, the first thing I’ll bring up is the chandelier! It’s the biggest choice – and quite possibly the best!

Inside of home with light gray walls with white trim and dark hardwood flooring, black window trim, circular chandelier hanging above stairwell

They do take up the most space, hanging down in big designs, but, in my opinion, that’s the best thing about them!

  1. Contemporary Pendant Lights
White brick wall blurred in the background, close up of 3 black metal pendant lighting hanging from ceiling

Contemporary lighting, with grandiose contemporary stairs? Yes, please!

  1. Copper Pendant Lights
White wall, windows with black frames, metal black shelves blurred in the background, round copper pendant lights hanging all along wall and windows

Copper pendant lights may be popular in the kitchen but that doesn’t mean it’s limited to one room. Being someone who loves the copper aesthetic as much as me, I’ll find any excuse to use it in my decorative theme.

  1. Glass Pendant Lights
Red and yellow glass pendant light turned on hanging from ceiling at different levels

Glass pendant lighting can go in any room, with any design. The diversity of glass coverings and bulbs makes sure of that.

  1. Wall Lights
Close up of a wooden wall with a black metal cylinder shaped light

Some wall lights may be small enough for a closed stairway, but the majority of these sconces that line the staircase wall require enough space to decorate your wall without you smacking your head on the way up! It’s important that any wall lights stay out of the way as a safety measure.

Basement Stairway Ideas

Dark image of black wooden staircase leading down to a dark basement

Basement stairs can be either open or closed, and either refurbished or unfinished. That’s why they have their own section; to be addressed completely. Of course, if they are open and refurbished they really aren’t much different than what I’ve already listed above. The only difference is that they tend to be narrow instead of wide – so you may want to rethink any grand chandeliers.

Close up of a crystal chandelier

Step lights are a good idea if you tend to trip on uneven basement stairs particularly if they aren’t refurbished. We don’t want you stepping on nails!

A fun basement staircase lighting idea for stairs and basements that haven’t been remodeled would be to pick a rustic or old fashioned fixture to light your way down! Even a simple hanging bulb will get the point across!

Gray wall in the background with multiple , different shaped retro bulb pendant light hanging from ceiling at different levels

Are These Stairway Lights DIY Friendly?

Blue background, black metal cased light, mans hand holding light bulb under lamp

Whether or not you can change or add lighting fixtures into your stairwell yourself depends on what you’ve chosen to do – and if you have experience as an electrician.

If you’ve settled on LED strips or fairy lights, these simple options are both quick and easy for anyone to put up. If you’re just changing a light cover in favor of the copper or contemporary look, this should also be an easy DIY task.

However, installing things like chandeliers, recessed lighting, wall lights, or even pendant lighting might require a steadier hand. This is especially true if you’re installing the fixture in a place that currently doesn’t have one, or is missing the right wires and electrical connections.

Man in white hard hat, white tee shirt, black overalls and yellow safety glasses wearing gray gloves installing black metal pendant lights in ceiling

The last thing we want is for you to end up cutting the wrong wire and end up paying even more than you would have to get it fixed!

It’s also important to know if your wiring is up to date. If you live in an older house, having the wiring checked out is important for safety measures and for future electrical work. Hiring an electrician can knock both of these jobs out for you!

Mans hands with white work gloves using a screwdriver working on wires, installing a chandelier is an excellent site to search for electricians near you, and simple, too! All you have to do is type in your location and a list of results will come up! Browse through accredited businesses and view their professional profiles.

You’re one click away from a price quote, as well. BBB makes things easy for users like you and I!