Builder Staircases & Backsplashes

Field shoot at staircase showroom courtesy of Bolton Railings.

Buying a builder's house is a great investment, but the finishes can sometimes be quite bland. Lisa Worth shows us some cool jewels for your stairs. 


So now that you have this wonderful solid wood stair finished to suit your aesthetic, dress it up!


  • Runners can be wonderful for adding warmth and for safety! No slipping in woolly socks as you run down the stairs in the morning.
Some important considerations for selecting a stair runner:
  • Average width for a runner is approximately 6" off edge.
  • Think of it like framing a photograph, the matting can be different.
  • Be careful - you don't want the runner to be too narrow for a runway effect. Don't make your runner disproportionate in size to the stairs.
Lisa loves the classic wool berber as it is so versatile - remember this can be pricey so you want longevity.

Sample board #1
-  shows a double binding which is a very custom, high end look - and the naked more contemporary approach with a simple serging.

Sample board #2 - shows different binding widths which are based on the width of the tread - also shown the top stitch and blind stitch approach to the binding

** Look to your supplier for recommendations when in doubt. They are the pros and when they check it out and measure, they can provide recommendations as it can be hard to visualize


  • Designers call these "the jewelry for the stairs."  
  • They are the final touch!
  • Depending on the number of treads - the look can get busy so be careful to select wisely.
  • Pick a finish that compliments your scheme, for example, look to your interior door hardware.
  • Pick a finial that works with your style. This can work for a contemporary scheme as there are more minimalistic finial options.

Before and After photos of some Builder Stairs Lisa designed for a client:




  • Builder light fixtures work just fine BUT are all very bland and  similar in look. Lisa suggests investing in a wow factor light fixture for your entry way.
  • Ceiling height plays a key role in selecting the fixture.
  • This is also dependent on if the fixture is over a table in the centre of a hallway or in the entry where people will be walking under it.
  • You typically want at least 6'-5" of clearance - so for a standard 8' ceiling, the fixture should not be longer than 18".

Foyer shot #1 shows very high ceilings, thus a "grander" fixture. 


Foyer shot #2 shows a smaller foyer with a fixture scaled for the space. 


Traditional Fav - Love this fresh take on the classic lantern - red works with so many schematics.


Contemporary Fav - This look is hot - the Moroccan byzantine influence, boho, unstudied and eclectic.


Modern Fav -  Love this classic modern fixture, Italian hand-blown, Murano glass. Modern does not have to be bland or linear - this fixture was designed in 1967 (44 years ago) and is still very much in vogue.



Lisa's Favourite options right now...

Traditional Backsplash Tile:
  • I love the subtle imperfections and colour variations that come with a handmade ceramic tile for a traditional look. You can see the fine lines or "crackling" as we call it in these tiles and the depth of colour is just gorgeous.
  • This classic tile never goes out of fashion.
  • Cream is a very versatile colour and can work with many door faces and finishes. Great with a stained wood or a cream cabinet.
  • You can opt for the very traditional subway size - 3" x 6", 2" x 6", or consider a 6"x 6" on a diagonal for less grout joints.
  • Dress it up and embellish the look with insert tiles and listello border tiles - or pull back with the square or subway tile.
World Mosaic
"Gramercy Park" Lexington Border & Iron Gate Deco-Autumn"
6" x 6" Bone China

Contemporary Backsplash Tile:
  • Natural stone can be quite contemporary, it is not just for traditionalists.
  • There is a wonderful versatility that comes with natural stone in a contemporary format.*
  • This is a new look for stone - "Split face" - the variation between a rough textural surface and the polished flat surface as well as the narrow size of the strips gives the stone a very contemporary look but not too outside the box.
  • Very tight grout joints - always a contemporary choice.
  • Blanco Carrera marble against a very versatile stone that works with many door faces - perfect with a clean white cabinet.
"SR Natural Split Plus"  Carrara $30/pc

Modern Backsplash Tile:
  • A new, hot look for the backsplash.
  • This tile steals the show and is a focal point.
  • Combination of glass and stainless steel. These 2 finishes will always spell modern or contemporary. Combined, the look is modern.
  • Not for the serious - the look is playful and fun.
  • Cabinet door face should be "slab" and quiet.
"Bubbles SMG01" Stainless Nickel $40.00/square foot.


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