Scuffed-up treads, off-color carpet and timeworn railing systems don’t accomplish any sort of “look” when it comes to staircases. Try one of these five updates to turn this simple architectural necessity into a stunning showpiece.

1. Modernize the railings: Your railing system could be the one thing standing between you and a polished, modern aesthetic. Your railings can be functional as well as complementary. Glass railings, for example, are a perfect fit for minimal modern designs. They create a sleek, updated look. And horizontal metal railings are a high-end trend that can bring your stairs into the height of style. They enhance a modern, industrial design as an anchoring focal point. Plus, they’re available in various metals, such as aluminum and stainless steel.

2. Upgrade the spindles: Replace your spindles or balusters with wrought-iron styles that speak to your personality. This material can be manipulated into curves, arches and geometric shapes to create unique and playful designs. You can also find it in traditional or minimal designs. Swap out your outdated oak spindles for wrought iron and keep the wooden handrail to blend traditional with contemporary.

3. Play up the risers: When you look at the stairs straight-on, the risers take up the most visual space. This is where you can get the greatest advantage with the smallest budget. Give your staircase a big pop of personality with colorful paint or wallpaper — or integrate both by alternating them. Get a sleek, sophisticated look with white paint or an elegant, minimal pattern. For as little as $10, you can buy peel-and-stick decals in various colors and designs to enhance your stairs in less than an hour.

4. Roll out a runner: A runner is one of the easiest and highest-impact options for updating your staircase. A runner that sharply contrasts your stairs can give them a modern look in an instant. A runner that features regal patterns and lush colors can add elegance and richness. A wild color, such as bright pink or Mediterranean blue, can change the look and feel of the entire space around it.

5. Play with paint: Paint your balusters in an accent color you’ve chosen for your space, such as a sunflower yellow to match a piece of art. Create depth by painting the railing and balusters slightly similar shades, such as terra cotta and a warm, deep brown to complement it. For a bold color scheme, consider a rainbow or ombre look.