Photo by Richard Bryant (Arcaid), courtesy of Tsao & McKown

A front stairway is an important design element in establishing the first impressions of a home. With every step we gather an expectation of what we will find beyond the front door. This means that a stairway should not be an afterthought, but a conscious—and creative– statement to welcome guests and family.

Photo by Kier Holmes

A stairway is one or more flights of stairs that can have landings so one can pass from one level to another. It is different from a stoop in that a stoop is a small landing at the exit of a doorway, usually measuring about 3 by 5 feet.

Photo by by Caitlin Atkinson

The stairway can be many things: modern, classic, grand, or elaborate with details. But whatever style you choose you must always start with the basic design principals of functionality, safety, and aesthetic purpose.

Photo courtesy of Chambers + Chambers

Basically, the style of your house will greatly impact your design decision. You want your stairway to be consistent in design and complement your home.

Photo by Kier Holmes

Photo by Art Gray

A well-designed stairway can transform what some think of as purely a mechanism to get from the street or driveway to the front door into an inspiring and pleasant greeting, and even journey.

Photo by Kier Holmes

Other rudimentary factors to consider when designing a stairway are elevation changes, whether you want a straight shot to the front door or a more gradual approach, and if this is your everyday stairway that gets a lot of use and therefore needs to be highly functional.