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Modern Staircase Design

What makes great modern staircase design? And what even makes a staircase modern? Contemporary stair design is about more than just form or function. Modern staircases are pieces of artwork inside the home that do more than just get you from floor to floor. They’re a central point of architecture that ties the home together using mostly non traditional methods and materials. It’s a difficult thing to define but I’d say as a general rule you’d know one when you saw it. They definitely don’t look like your usual set of residential home stairs and are sure to leave an impression. Love it or hate it, modern home design is a growing trend in America and is definitely here to stay.

modern staircase design glass railings with floating steps

Modern Staircase Design | Glass Railings

A beautiful modern staircase needs the right home. Over 90% of new homes built in American are considered fairly traditional. Less than 10% are modern or contemporary enough to warrant a modern set of stairs. But with the right home they truly look spectacular.

This modern stair design shown above has a center bar made from steel that supports the entire structure. Wooden stairs are bolted into the center steel and float without risers. Glass railings are secured into the steps with a metal hand rail.

This type of modern stair design is great for an open concept home because it’s designed to be as see through as possible. Without solid stair risers, a large frame or thick railings, very little is left to block your view.

As you’d imagine this contemporary staircase wouldn’t work in your average home but in one like this it looks fantastic and really fits the overall design.

This type of stair design with center bar and floating steps can actually be bought as a kit and assembled on site.

contemporary staircase ideas black with glass railings

Contemporary Staircase Black With Glass

Here we see another fabulous contemporary staircase design. This design has solid risers and a steel frame that runs through both sides of the staircase rather than a single bar through the middle. Both types are super strong and both are very modern staircases but as you can see they look very different. This is one of the reasons why it’s so hard to define what a modern staircase design actually is. They really are like a functional piece of artwork. We’ll be showing dozens throughout this blog and they’ll all be unique.

Dark wood paneling makes up the steps, risers and platforms with black rails and glass. An excellent interior stair design for clients who want a monochromatic black, white and gray decor.

modern staircase design idea glass with dark wood hand rails gray steps

Dark Hardwood With Glass | Modern Staircase Design

This modern staircase design has a steel reinforced frame inside each side of the stairs which supports the load. You’ll notice a common thread throughout all of these stair designs is the feeling that they float. Traditional stairs have wall underneath that support them but most contemporary stairs don’t We use hidden steel beams inside the stairs or under to carry the load. Steel is generally bolted at the top of the stairs, the bottom, into the walls, or a combination of the 3. In this case it’s secured at the top, bottom and into the side walls.

Those round metal pieces holding the glass railings are mounting hardware. They’re also commonly called pins or anchors. This is special glass that won’t easily break so it’s safe to use as a railing. It’s anchored into the stair frame with the pins. Other pieces of hardware are used to mount the wood hand rails.

Notice the stain on each wood element has been matched. That’s not as easy to do as it sounds because different types of wood holds stain differently so it takes some time to get the look just right.

contemporary staircase metal and wood with wood rail and ballusters

Metal And Wood Modern Indoor Staircase Design

This modern indoor staircase design uses a mix of steel and real wood. Black metal always looks great with natural elements like wood. Here the stain was kept very light which accentuates the natural appearance of the wood. The steps and hand rails match and so do the balusters and steel frame.

In this stair design the steel frame is actually the black sides of the stairs that you see. It’s mounted at the top and bottom of each staircase with floating wooden steps. The risers are solid and painted cream to match the walls

Those bits of wood you see on the sides of each piece of steel are actually the steps. Each steel side piece has notches cut out where the steps are slid through and later secured into the risers.

The challenge with a modern staircase design like this is that you have to finish the under side of the stairs just as nice as the top. With more traditional stairs you generally don’t see what underneath so it’s not a common issue. With contemporary stair design you almost always see both sides so it’s twice the work.

modern staircase design kit with center black bar and floating steps glass railings

Modern Staircase Design Kits

This is a beautiful, modern staircase design that’s very common in the building industry because you can buy it as a kit. The center stair support bars are cut to whatever length you need. That’s that big black piece of steel running under the steps. It bolts into the top and bottom of each staircase.

Once you secure the support steel the wooden steps bolt in and then you build the railings. It’s not that hard to assemble one of these and they’re reasonably priced when compared with other modern staircase designs.

The rails here are black aluminum 4×4 posts with a black top and bottom rail with glass. Notice the black metal has been carried to the 2nd floor as a 1/3 height top rail. Matching black doors and floor inlay are also parts of the design.

The wood type and color has been used as accent trim and wall paneling covering the entire main interior wall. Some people think using a lot of natural wood is considered rustic but that’s not always the case. It all depends on it’s usage. Here we see rustic, knotty wood used in a very modern home.

modern floating staircase with no rails dark ipe wood

Modern Floating Stair Design With No Rails

This super modern floating stair design is crazy. No visible support structure of any kind and no rails. It’s the ultimate in minimalist design and striking to see but unfortunately is quite dangerous. At the very least adding a thin wire rail would be a good idea. That’s a far drop if you happen to take a bad step.

The supports are actually buried in the wall. Those steps look like solid pieces of wood but they’re not. Hidden inside is a piece of steel that bolts into the wall frame. The wood is just a sleeve that slides over the actual steel step. The steps either bolt into steel hidden in the wall or into the actual wall framing. It all depends on the homes design.

It takes a lot of work to build one of these because you can’t just screw the steps into any wall. The support system has to be hidden inside the wall so if your planning on installing one of these in an existing home then you’ll have to open up the walls and do some structural framing. Once the structural work is done it’s easy to bolt in each individual step. Just make sure you bolt them all in the right place. From there slide on the wooden sleeves and finish any remaining cosmetic work.

We recommend staining the wood and painting the wall in advance. This way you won’t have to worry about getting paint on the wood or stain on the wall.

modern round floating staircase design with glass railings and real wood

Contemporary Round Floating Staircase Design

Here we see a floating stair design which is much safer than the previous example. If you’ve got a staircase then you really need to install railings and in most towns including all of NJ it’s a requirement. We recommend some balusters as well as a hand rail on at least one side. Check with your local building department for code information but here in NJ those thins are also both required.

Light wood stairs match the super wide hardwood plank flooring and top rail perfectly. There’s a center landing on this staircase which is a good idea when you’ve got a large staircase that spans over 20 stairs.

This is a very expensive staircase design to build. It’s stunning and definitely qualifies as a top modern staircase design but the cost to bend glass like this and build round stairs is crazy. Bending the steel for the structure is expensive too and so is the round framing and finish work but nothing compares to what it costs to bend and install curved glass. Radius work in general costs a lot but this is on a whole other level.

The enormous granite slabs used as a wall covering is a beautiful way to finish off this staircase design.

ultra modern staircase design open wood risers glass railings steel frame

Ultra Modern Staircase Design

This ultra modern staircase design fits perfectly inside this spectacular contemporary home. It features floating wood steps with glass railings and a metal hand rail.

What’s great about these floating steps with open risers is that they don’t block the view as much as close risers do. With floor to ceiling windows you really don’t want solid stairs and thick railings blocking all that natural light. Even though your view is partially blocked you can still see plenty right through the stairs.

The look is achieved with steel. Inside each wooden step is a hidden steel step that’s bolted into the wall frame which is how builders achieve the illusion of floating stairs. You need something super solid to bolt into so this isn’t a look you can just add to any existing home. If you want a floating staircase major remodeling will have to be done inside the wall in order to provide a strong enough frame to bolt into.

Once the structural work is done inside the walls it’s actually not that hard a job to do. You just bolt the stairs in, slide on the wooden steps, assemble the railings and do all your finish work. We’ll be posting a video and instructions on how to do it soon so check back.

industrial style concrete modern stair design

Industrial Concrete Modern Stair Design

This is a home that’s still under construction but believe it or not most of what you see is the finished look. An industrial decor is a growing trend started by older buildings in the city being converted into living space. Clients liked the style so much that they’re now building contemporary homes that embrace it. Poured concrete and block create the look of an older industrial warehouse in a brand new, ultra modern home.

The stairs aren’t actually just poured concrete. Inside is a steel frame with rebar that’s bolted at the top and bottom of each staircase. Without the steel and rebar frame the concrete could easily crack and become unsafe. All these stairs get from here are railings that bolt right into the concrete.

clean contemporary stair design with silver wire cable railings

Clean, Contemporary Stair Design With Cable Rails

This clean, modern stair design has a hidden steel frame which allows that center rail to float. You couldn’t achieve this look with wood unless you included a bunch of columns or cantilevered beams into the walls. It’s a much better, safer option for stair designs like these to use steel so if your a custom builder reading this find a good steel manufacturer and get comfortable working with the material.

The underside of the steps is again a super clean sheetrock finish with a single recessed LED light at each landing. The steps are real hardwood with a picture frame border which matches the flooring throughout the home. Railings are custom built brushed aluminum with cables that bolt into the sides of the steps.

Recessed LED step lighting has been installed into the side walls every 4 steps.

contemporary stair ideas open wood risers with cable railings

Contemporary Stairs With Open Wood Risers And Cable Rails

Here we see another example of cable rails paired with a modern stair design. Black steel side frame with open wood steps. Matching wood hand rails sit atop black posts that match the steel stair frame. Silver cable wires complete the rail system.

This staircase is a made from two  single steel beams custom built and bolted to each side of the staircase to achieve this floating stair look. An open riser staircase sitting three stories high can be a scary thing so it has to be super strong. This is where 14″ thick steel side beams come into play. With steel this size the span isn’t a problem at all and it’s definitely not something you’d want to try with wood.

round contemporary stairs with plaster finish

Contemporary Round Stairs With Plaster

This custom built contemporary round staircase has a clean plaster finish and wood frame. Wood is generally less expensive than building with steel but in this case it’s actually about the same. As a general rule of thumb expect anything curved to cost more because it has to be custom built either on site or in a professional shop. You can’t just go into a Home Depot and buy something round. It all has to be hand made which takes time and money.

We have a great wood shop we trust with all of our curved wood manufacturing. You really have to find a business that knows what they’re doing and has experience with radius work.

Curved stairs have to be very precise. The radius has to be perfect or it won’t fit into the opening and all the stairs have to be to code. It’s not an easy thing to make. In this case once the staircase was bolted into place the rails were fitted with wire and then plastered which is how these steps got that beautiful smooth finish.

contemporary staircase design ideas silver frame with floating wood steps glass rails

Contemporary Stair Design With Silver Frame

Here we see another set of contemporary interior stairs with floating wood steps, open risers and glass rails. What makes this set different from the rest of the examples we’ve shown is the silver frame. It’s still steel only it’s been powder coated in this silver finish. That’s why we’re highlighting it here.

Steel can be powder coated or painted to just about any color you like just like a car. Even though black is by far the most popular some clients choose to go with something different.

Here the silver coating has been carried to the rail posts and platform frame which matches nicely with the window and door frames.

The structure of the platform and stairs are both steel. The stairs are bolted to the floor and at the top while the platform is bolted to the side walls.

This open riser design with glass is really nice in an open floor plan contemporary home. It lets through tons of natural light and doesn’t block the view as much as a solid set of stairs will.

modern staircase design metal glass and wood

Modern Staircase Design | Metal Glass And Wood

Above we see a spectacular modern home with custom built floating stairs featuring black metal, wood and glass.

The black frame is steel which is supported by bolts at the top and bottom as well as into the side walls. It’s a combination of these points that carries the load and allows the center section to appear to float. A stair like this isn’t a kit. These are custom design by a structural engineer, built by a steel company and finished by a builder. If your thinking of installing one make sure you find a builder that has experience building with contemporary, custom made products.

The wood steps are easy to install. They can be done at the factory or on site. We generally prefer to do all the finish work on site to prevent damage during shipping or installation. The rails are custom cut sheets of glass secured with side anchor pins.

I love how the black metal from the stairs is carried throughout the home with black metal wall paneling, window and door trim and other accent pieces on the walls.

curved modern staircase design with custom iron railings

Curved Stair Design With Custom Iron Railings

Here we have a modern stair design that slants a little more to the traditional side. This look is commonly referred to as transitional but is still considered a contemporary look. The stairs are curved but are not built into the wall. The entire staircase has been built in advance with a steel frame and stone tile finish. It comes one piece and completely finished. You simply get it in place and bolt it at the top and bottom.

The custom railings are designed and built out of iron once the staircase is in. We measure and make templates for all the railings once a design is finalized. Once fabricated we bolt them all in.

One of the great things about a stair design like this is the versatility. The tile you select for the risers and treads as well as the railings are completely up to you. There are hundreds of different stones that will work and thousands of design options for the railings. It’s a beautiful look that will work in a lot more homes than some of the other ultra modern staircase designs. 

A Few More Top Modern Staircase Design Ideas

We’ve gone over most of our favorite modern staircase design ideas above but here are some more pics to look through. Maybe one of them will catch your eye.


A modern staircase design is a great feature to have if you’ve got the right home and the budget. Sure, they do the same thing as any staircase does but that’s not really the point. A modern stair design is meant to be artwork inside the home and that’s why they come with such a high price tag. If you’ve got a million dollar contemporary home it just won’t look right with an old fashioned colonial staircase.

This list is filled with some of our favorite contemporary staircase ideas and we hope a few of them inspire you to create something beautiful. Check back, we update these pages with new pics all the time as we get them. If you’ve got any pics you’d like us to showcase send them over.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail us any time. We’d love to hear from you.

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