Compact staircase ideas for small houses

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Compact staircase ideas for small houses

Sunita Vellapally Sunita Vellapally
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Staircases are an essential feature in homes that have more than one floor. While it’s easy to incorporate a beautiful stair design in a large house, often in a small one, compact stairs pose a design challenge, even to architects and interior designers, as they need to be functional without compromising on the aesthetics. There are several decisions to be taken when choosing staircase designs for small homes. These include choosing the right structure and materials.

While it isn’t easy to find the perfect option for a compact area, innovative ideas can help in creating clever stairs for small spaces. The focus of the design should not only be on creating a stunning element that adds beauty to the home but also on saving space. In small houses, every inch is precious. Therefore, one needs to employ compact staircase designs that are cleverly conceived to optimise the area available for the stairs. This could include ideas such as including storage under the stairs or having a spiral staircase that occupies very little space.

By working with a professional, one can come up with innovative space saving stairs designs that serve more than one purpose, whether it’s to add a decorative feature to the small house or to expand the storage in the area. We’ve put together this ideabook to provide tips and ideas on how to design compact stairs that are functional and stunning. Read on to get inspired!

How to choose the right compact stairs design

The architecture of the small house plays a vital role in influencing the design of the stairs.  

Multi-storey houses: In a house with more than one level, if the area available for the stairs is limited, a design that extends continuously from top to bottom without any twists and turns is ideal. It creates a stunning highlight and is also easy to maintain. While wood is the ideal material for compact staircase designs, it should be maintained well by coating it regularly to prevent the material from getting damaged by moisture or being attacked by termites.

Lofts or commercial spaces: Metal is an excellent choice for these spaces as it complements the industrial style, which is commonly used in this type of house or building. When using metal, coating the background wall with burnt cement or concrete can enhance the look of the area.

Duplex: Since duplex apartments have a narrower area allocated for the staircase, the spiral design is the most suited for compact stairs in these homes.

Deciding on the best measurements for compact stairs

Independent Villa - Pune by DECOR DREAMS Modern

Independent Villa – Pune


The following measurements can be kept in mind to ensure the best stair design for the house.

1. The staircase should be comfortable to navigate, without brushing against the wall. The minimum width of the steps should be 60cm.

2. The depth of each step should be between 27-30cm.

3. The recommended height for each step is around 15 to 19cm.

4. Ideally, the stairs should be set at an incline of 30-35 degrees from the floor. While increasing the inclination may seem like a simple solution to designing space saving staircases for small homes, it would make it difficult for children or the elderly to navigate the stairs comfortably.

5. The handrail should be at least 90cm high.

Now that you know about all the ideal measurements let’s look at some creative ideas for stairs in small spaces.

1. Compact stairs in the corner

Under stairs unit by homify Modern

Under stairs unit


In a house that has a space constraint, designing the stairs in a corner is a wise choice. If the design doesn’t permit a single row connecting the various floors, then one can turn the stairs with landings at each level to optimise the area. Combining materials such as steel and glass helps to keep the area bright and elegant as it doesn’t block the natural light.

2. Accommodating compact stairs in narrow spaces

ENTRANCE STEPS by de square Rustic
de square


de square

If there is no alternative, the stairs can be accommodated in a narrow aisle, but it is essential to install adequate lighting so that the area doesn’t induce claustrophobia. Lights embedded in the wall are a good choice, especially when the walls are painted white to reflect the light and make the area appear larger than it is.

3. Compact stairs with a sculptural effect

The lack of space doesn’t need to curtail ideas of creative stairs for small spaces. A fun and original design, such as this one, can completely transform the small house.

4. Storage under compact stairs

Stairs open display and storage by homify Asian

Stairs open display and storage


Storage is essential in every home, and more so in a small one. Installing drawers and cabinets in the dead space under the stairs is a great way to blend functionality and style.

5. Compact stairs that offer more

Lit niche by homify Modern

Lit niche


A simple design can be modified to include shelves for accessories or a garden under the stairs to bring the area to life.

6. Including compact stairs in a passageway

When looking for areas where the stairs can be designed, don’t forget to consider a narrow entrance passageway. This is a clever stairs design for small spaces as it utilises an area in which one doesn’t spend too much time. In the process, it frees up other areas in the home to make them more comfortable.

7. Playing with geometry

Getting creative can help to design compact stairs that make a big impact. For instance, instead of the classic spiral design, a more angular twist can be used to create an eye-catching staircase.

8. Wooden ladder

For infusing the interiors with warmth, wood is the preferred material. One isn’t restricted to the classic wooden staircase. A modern approach that uses minimalist design to make the stairs resemble a wooden ladder is sure to be memorable.

9. Compact stairs with illuminated steps

While there is no substitute for natural light to make an area look refreshing, one should improvise when natural light is not available. The best way is to install artificial lighting, and a design that has lights under each step looks stunning!

10. Spiral stairs

Access to the Work Studio Rustic style corridor, hallway & stairs by BETWEENLINES Rustic Iron/Steel

Access to the Work Studio


When exploring options of space saving staircases for small homes, the classic spiral cannot be ignored. It can even be used in the outdoors to connect floors without using up too much space.

11. Straight line up

Living Room Staircase Minimalist corridor, hallway & stairs by BETWEENLINES Minimalist

Living Room Staircase


In tiny houses, a simple straight staircase may be the only option. A vertical handrail can help to ease the starkness of the design.

12. Spiral stairs indoors

Stairs and False ceiling by Myriadhues Classic Wood Wood effect

Stairs and False ceiling


Since their shape makes them one of the best options for compact stairs, spiral staircases can be installed in the corner of a small room. Its style makes it easy to harmonise with the décor. It can be built from steel or wood to complement the style of the house.

13. Multifunctional stairs

Staircase by homify Modern



Since space saving is of primary importance in a small house, a staircase with multifunctional features is a perfect choice. Besides connecting two levels, it can serve as a study or a home office.

14. Simple and stylish compact stairs

Sometimes, simplicity is the key to sophistication. A steel staircase without hand rails has a light and airy feel that perfectly complements the interiors and enhances the style of the home.

15. Fluid design

When incorporating a staircase in a small house, it doesn’t necessarily have to be designed in the corner. A floating staircase that runs through the centre of the room is a great idea, especially when it uses glass that maintains the luminosity and adds modernity to the ambiance.

Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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