9 Unique Stair Railings

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By Kate Reggev / Published by Kate Reggev
Handrails for stairs may be subject to specific, in-depth code requirements, but that doesn’t mean that they’re short on style, innovation, or aesthetic appeal.

Stair railings are typically installed to serve a largely utilitarian, safety-related function: to provide stability or support in ascending or descending a staircase. However, they have the ability to contribute in a major way to the aesthetics of a space through their form, opacity or transparency, and materiality. Take a look below as we review nine unique stair railings crafted out of everything from exotic woods to laser-cut steel, concrete to metal tension rods.

1) A Criss-Crossed Steel Rod Railing in Geneva by Keller Architectes

9 Unique Stair Railings - Photo 1 of 9 - In Geneva, an existing wooden stair is transformed with a steel tread topped with a plank of concrete. The distinctly modern feel extends to the steel tension rods that cross each other to create an irregular pattern.

In Geneva, an existing wooden stair is transformed with a steel tread topped with a plank of concrete. The distinctly modern feel extends to the steel tension rods that cross each other to create an irregular pattern.

9 Unique Stair Railings - Photo 2 of 9 - In a narrow house in the Chesapeake Bay, a stair railing consists of warm wood in contrast with thin, powder-coated panels of steel with exposed steel fasteners. The round, projecting handrail provides a comfortable grip for visitor's hands, and the white panels keep the railing feeling light and bright.

In a narrow house in the Chesapeake Bay, a stair railing consists of warm wood in contrast with thin, powder-coated panels of steel with exposed steel fasteners. The round, projecting handrail provides a comfortable grip for visitor's hands, and the white panels keep the railing feeling light and bright.

9 Unique Stair Railings - Photo 3 of 9 - In a major renovation of a San Francisco townhouse, a striking interior stair crafted of fumed and stained oak panels that clad an asymmetrical sculptural stair. The incorporation of a light well at the top of the stair floods it with light.

In a major renovation of a San Francisco townhouse, a striking interior stair crafted of fumed and stained oak panels that clad an asymmetrical sculptural stair. The incorporation of a light well at the top of the stair floods it with light.

9 Unique Stair Railings - Photo 4 of 9 - An undulating spiral stair with a white railing on one side and a slim wooden handrail on the other connects the upper and lower floors of a renovated home in Australia. The bends of the railing mimic the curves of the building's exterior, and the wood handrail is recessed into the wall, tracing a path upwards.

An undulating spiral stair with a white railing on one side and a slim wooden handrail on the other connects the upper and lower floors of a renovated home in Australia. The bends of the railing mimic the curves of the building's exterior, and the wood handrail is recessed into the wall, tracing a path upwards.

9 Unique Stair Railings - Photo 5 of 9 - While most stairs have continuous railings that allow your hand to slide up the railing as you ascend, vertical steel fins act as a spatial divider between upper and lower floors in this cafe in South Korea. The unfinished steel railing and the raw concrete stair emphasize the space's industrial feel.

While most stairs have continuous railings that allow your hand to slide up the railing as you ascend, vertical steel fins act as a spatial divider between upper and lower floors in this cafe in South Korea. The unfinished steel railing and the raw concrete stair emphasize the space's industrial feel.

9 Unique Stair Railings - Photo 6 of 9 - In order to meld together a modern sensibility with the existing construction of an 18th century building in Paris, architect Michael Herrman used steel panels for the railings of the central stair in this apartment renovation. An abstract yet antique-inspired pattern was laser cut out of the steel to allow light to pass through.

In order to meld together a modern sensibility with the existing construction of an 18th century building in Paris, architect Michael Herrman used steel panels for the railings of the central stair in this apartment renovation. An abstract yet antique-inspired pattern was laser cut out of the steel to allow light to pass through.

9 Unique Stair Railings - Photo 7 of 9 - The vertically-oriented cable railing in this modern house in Tennessee acts as a screen, providing the illusion of a separation between either side of the staircase while still allowing views across. 

The vertically-oriented cable railing in this modern house in Tennessee acts as a screen, providing the illusion of a separation between either side of the staircase while still allowing views across. 

9 Unique Stair Railings - Photo 8 of 9 - In his first commission in the United States, renowned Modernist Walter Gropius designed this complex and masterful staircase and railing system in which the horizontal members of the railing support both the handrail and the stair treads. The painted white steel tubes appear flowing and air-filled, creating a grille that contrasts with the vertical panelling of the walls.

In his first commission in the United States, renowned Modernist Walter Gropius designed this complex and masterful staircase and railing system in which the horizontal members of the railing support both the handrail and the stair treads. The painted white steel tubes appear flowing and air-filled, creating a grille that contrasts with the vertical panelling of the walls.

9 Unique Stair Railings - Photo 9 of 9 - The slim brass rods of the stair railing in this countryside house in Australia create a shimmering silhouette against the matte texture of the concrete wall. The rods die gracefully into the wall of the concrete, and the notes of brass are picked up by the concrete plugs inserted into the panels.

The slim brass rods of the stair railing in this countryside house in Australia create a shimmering silhouette against the matte texture of the concrete wall. The rods die gracefully into the wall of the concrete, and the notes of brass are picked up by the concrete plugs inserted into the panels.