Understanding Staircase Lighting

Staircase lighting is key to how home interiors look and feel.

When designed and executed carefully, feature staircase lighting creates a welcoming ambience; however, even the most beautiful design or interior in a poorly lit space can become dull.

Stairs are a focal point in a property and can often be viewed from many aspects, leading the eye from one space to another. Lighting on or around the staircase dramatically enhances the look of both stairs and the surrounding area.

Richard McLane, Bisca’s Design Director, talks about staircase lighting

Ask yourself – What are you trying to achieve with light?

Accent lighting

Use accent lighting to blend in with light levels in the surrounding area and provide safe, navigable lighting levels on the staircase itself. The stairs will then be visible when its surroundings are dark – something to consider if your property is open plan.

Accent lighting can be mounted within, or on walls, ceiling, soffit, treads or the handrail itself.

The room shots below clearly show the difference accent lighting can make. Staircase lighting enables the staircase to have its own voice day and night.

Staircase lighting at night

LED lighting in handrail throws light onto treads and is balanced by pendant and spotlights overhead

Even in a room with an abundance of natural light, accent lighting can still add impact to any staircase. The lighting of the helical staircase below casts a warm glow and draws the eye up (or down).

Staircase lighting concealed in the recessed handrail

A recessed handrail maximises the usable width of the staircase, while the concealed LED strip becomes a feature in itself.

stairwell with lights on and off for warm and cold spiral staircase

Shadow gap lighting completely transforms the feel of a staircase and surrounding area.

Statement Lighting

Statement lighting such as chandeliers, drop pendants, spotlights etc. are commonly used in or around the stair area and as well as providing overall light, give wow factor.

Bisca will liaise with other members of your project team to provide the necessary data and information to allow the optimum positioning of statement lighting.

For the project below, we worked closely with the clients’ chosen lighting designer, Brilliant Lighting, to ensure the globes of the pendant light aligned with staircase and floor levels.

statement feature lighting for staircases

Three flights of a helical staircase with pendant globes providing optimum light at landing levels.

Coloured lighting can create or continue a mood with washes of colour to complement the décor, ambient light or to create theatre.

The interior of Belvelly Castle is a fabulous example of where mood interior lighting creates theatre. Both our staircase and wine wall have concealed colour changing LED strips.

The glass balustrade & open tread design of the staircase makes the most of the available light, but additional lighting on the stair is provided by a concealed LED strip in the underside of the leather-clad handrail. Lighting hidden in the underside of some treads casts a warm light over the stair area and the vases below.

Colour changing LED lights for domestic use

Bisca designed the wine wall at Belvelly Castle with concealed colour changing LED’s.

Lighting within shadow gaps can be wired for a colour of your choice, or simply to provide a feature on the staircase.

coloured shadow gap staircase lights lighting

Bold colours or colour changing LED’s within shadow gaps can make a statement.

Uplighters under a staircase feature lights

Uplighters create drama with a play of light and shadow on walls.


Lighting works best being done as part of the staircase design, and not an element added afterwards. Bisca will work with your lighting designer, if applicable, and ensure the staircase lighting is fully integrated with the overall lighting design developed for the property. Bisca’s fully bespoke process allows us to incorporate products specified by others.

Maintenance and replacement

Maintenance always needs to be part of the staircase design. Bisca consider this as part of the stair and lighting design, providing clients with a fully integrated solution.

Importantly, we will also discuss the supply of power cables, locations of drivers and integration with the site electrical system with your architect/electrician or lighting designer.

Staircase lighting designer and Bisca worked together on this project

Bisca worked closely with the lighting designer for the basement staircase above, where the floor light follows the curve of the stairs.

Helical Bisca staircase with stair lighting under the handrail

LED’s recessed into the handrail illuminate the glass and treads.

Finally, depending on the layout of a space, it is sometimes more appropriate to design lighting around the staircase rather than on the stairs. The positioning of the surrounding light still needs to be considered during the staircase design.

Give us a call, or drop us a line, about your new staircase design and lighting options.

Image of Belvelly Castle copyright and reproduced here by kind permission of the photographer & AnimoTV

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