Interior designer Jo HamiltonInterior designer, television presenter and Grand Designs Live ambassador Jo Hamilton looks at staircases and explains why homeowners should see them as a chance to be creative — and not just a step to follow.

The staircase is often viewed as a purely functional, transitional space in the home, sadly. Its huge potential to provide a bold backdrop is time and again overshadowed by its utilitarian purpose. But the possibilities are endless.

It’s probably the largest piece you’ll design in the home, so think of it more as a piece of art — a sculptural piece running right through the heart of a property.

A key theme, for me, is clean, simple lines brought to life in a beautiful material that does all the talking. Edgy, industrial styling does just this. The lines are crisp and the textures harsh but there is a definition and honesty to the look that works beautifully when punctuated with warmer textures — artwork and accessories, natural woods and hushed lighting. But staircases can also be curvaceous, elegant and sexy. Natural woods are the perfect material to create these mouth-wateringly fluid shapes.

I've come across some delicious examples to share with you that use a variety of materials, and where the staircase strikes a perfect balance between physical function and beautiful form.

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The breathtaking brass speaks for itself in this staircase, with the rail providing for simple, clean lines. Meanwhile, the warm gold tones offer a glorious contrast to the blocky marble flooring. It’s a marriage that softens the scheme beautifully. The gold tones are further picked out in the Spanish tiles, whose soft shapes again soften and warm the look.

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I adore the contrast of the natural warmth of the wood with the hard, angled brass here. The warm tones keep the scheme comfortable and restful. It has also been cleverly lit with LED strip lighting along the inset handrail demanding you give the muted brushed finish of the brass your deserved attention.

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They may seem like a brave or scary option, but industrial style staircases such as the one pictured above can be a super cool addition to a home. The clean, hard lines and cool finish, that might well be cold to the touch and on the eye, are best softened with natural woods and offset with warm textures/soft furnishings such as rugs and cushions and warmer-toned neutrals.

Once I set sail in this exciting sea of staircase opportunity, it's difficult to let go and bow out but I hope I've given you enough to whet your appetite and to get your creative juices flowing.

Visit Jo’s popular blog, Jo’s Notebook (www.jo-hamilton-blog.com) for more.