L&L Design Guide: Stairwell Lighting Ideas – From Lip Lighting to Motion Controlled Lights

There are a number of stairwell lighting ideas to choose from. Some are simple, like attaching battery operated motion sensor lights to the wall, or using pendant light adapters to modify your ceiling lights. Other ideas require some work – like installing lights into the side wall of the stairs, or fitting lights to the underside of the stair lip.

One idea and the most elegant solution for stairwell lighting is to do under lip lighting. This is when you install lights right under the lip of the stairs. This can be done with LED rope lights or with more innovative lights like LightTape.

under lip staircase lighting

A second option would be to install lights recessed into the side wall of the staircase. The best way to do this is to have them professionally fitted and wired up. A simpler and faster option would be to use battery operated motion sensor lights that can be cheaply picked up from Amazon for around $10-$30. Simply stick them to the side walls of the stairs (Conserving Energy with Wireless Motion Sensor Lights and Adapters).

side lighting stairs

wireless stair lighting

Another way to add stair lighting is to take a look at the overhead lighting. Recessed lights are a modern lighting solution, and this would be good idea if you have low hanging ceilings. For high ceilings, pendant lights would be a better choice as these lights bring the light closer to the ground. You can easily convert normal ceiling light outlets into pendant lights by using pendant light adapters.

Instant Pendant Lights

Having lights installed into the front facing, vertical part of the step is ideal for outdoor stairs, but is not visually appealing lighting design for indoor stairs. Also look to avoid the runway effect. This is when you place lights on both sides of the staircase, at the same levels. The way to avoid this is to alternate the steps where the lights will be. For staircases you only really a wall light for every 3 of so steps.

The best way to light a stairwell, or any part of the home, is to use a variety of light fixtures (ie. stairwell lip lighting and overhead pendant lights). This creates more lighting layers, and avoids a monotone look that you would get from using just one type of light.

If you are a looking for more advance lighting options or are planning a major remodeling of your home, take a look at these two stairwell lighting ideas. First we have the side lights: lights are fitted into a small gap between the wall and the stairs, which provides soft indirect lighting (and also makes the staircase look like it is floating).

Side wall lighting

For those DIYers out there with some electronics skills, there are tutorials online on how to build motion sensor stairwell lighting. The lights will turn on as you approach the top or bottom of the stairs. In the video below you can see how the lights of each stairs light up gradually one by one. You can find a tutorial for this here.

image credits: property snaps

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