When it comes to designing staircases, deciding on the right style of balustrade for your home shouldn't have to be a difficult choice. But there are a number of things to consider— balustrades need to be practical as well as stylish. They need to suit your new or existing stairs and your home's overall decor. The good news? There’s no shortage of styles and materials. Whether you're planning on restoring an original staircase design or creating something fresh with a contemporary feel, give some thought to an often forgotten detail of the staircase—the balustrades.
Here at Budget Stairs, we have always had a special place in our hearts for the humble timber balustrade. The versatility of timber allows for endless design opportunities—turned, squared or shaped, modern, Federation or Victorian. So whether you’re restoring an older style home, or designing your home from the foundations up, we’ve compiled a range of balustrade styles to help you make your home pop.
Turn heads with turned timber balustrades
The three main architectural styles that feature turned timber balustrades are the Victorian, Edwardian and Colonial styles. Although similar, each of these styles has distinct features.
To give you an idea, Colonial style balustrade designs originated in Australia in the mid-1800s and prevalent in many historic homesteads across the country. They're noted for their wide landings and simple yet subtle features, boasting small details and have few decorative elements. And, whilst they may hark back to history, Colonial style balustrades have made their way back into fashion, used across a variety of contemporary staircase designs, as a way to blend the old with the new.
Want to make a statement? Victorian stair designs feature strong, solid stairs and posts, but feature much more ornate and elaborate balustrades and handrails. These grander, more stately designs feature elaborate turnings, patterns and cappings, and are often stained in a dark rich colour. This style was prominent from the 1840s through to the early 1900s, and synonymous with wealth. So much so, they were even used as a way to express social standing. Two or three-storey houses that feature high ceilings with intricate trims and decorative woodwork benefit from an ornate Victorian style of staircase.
Like Victorian-era designs, Edwardian style staircases are a burly style of timber stair, featuring large posts and square balusters. They often have decorative cappings and handrails, however, aren't quite as ornate as their Victorian counterparts. This style rose to prominence in the early 1900s. Homes with wide hallways and entrance ways and a bright, open floorplan are a perfect way to showcase this Edwardian style of staircase design.
The image below showcases how these older styles of stairs can be refreshed and made a centrepiece of your home.
From left to right: (1) The use of black and white emphasises the grandeur of this Victorian staircase design. (2) This Victorian style staircase is refreshed with a single modern, contrasting colour to the walls. (3) The use of natural stained timber and complementary colours amplifies this open entrance way space. (4) Utilising a different colour for treads and trims of this Edwardian staircase brings an open, coastal feel to the home.
Flaunt the Federation style
What’s often called the first truly 'Australian style', Federation staircase designs are characterised by a square and solid feel, with subtle, decorative shaped wooden balustrades. Stairs built in this style usually have a natural stained finish. Prevalent from 1890 to 1915, the style coincides with the Federation of the Australian states and territories into the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, after which it was named. Although classic by design, shaped timber balustrades and staircases can be modernised with different coloured stains or paint to match your decor.
From left to right: (1) Combining Federation style balustrades with open rise stairs amplifies the natural, Australian design. (2) Using a contrasting colour on your stairs helps centre them as a focal point in the home. (3) Utilising natural timber and white balustrades create a modern effect on an older style staircase.
Get clever with contemporary timber balustrades designs
Contemporary timber balustrade styles are generally squared, however, they’re only limited by your imagination. Timber balustrades offer a strong, sturdy design that can last a lifetime. The flexibility offered by timber allows you to dream up unusual styles and strikingly original forms, and combine them with other materials such as glass or steel for a design unique to you and your home. The below designs showcase the versatility of timber and how you can let your imagination run wild with contemporary designs.
From left to right: (1) Using different sized balustrades can bring an edgy, modern look to your staircase design. (2) This contemporary staircase combines both timber and glass into an elegant design. (3) Floor to ceiling timber balustrades create a striking focal point of what would be an awkwardly positioned staircase.
Need some more staircase inspiration?
Whether you’re after a period-style timber balustrade and staircase or are thinking something a little more modern, the Budget Stairs team are always here to help.
As one of Sydney's leading stair designers, manufacturers and builders, we sure know our stuff when it comes to beautifully crafted staircases. For our expert advice or a free measure and quote, get in touch with us today.