Circular, spiral and otherwise winding staircase designs are often at their most awesome when they stick to minimalism in form and structure. Still, as these stairs show, there are ways to combine modern simplicity with a dash of subtle detail or splash of colorful decor.

A wrapping, twisting, non-symmetrical white form provides a canvass-like backdrop for a painted tree mural that rotates around the outside of this semi-enclosed stairwell. In some ways, this is a surprisingly traditional modernist approach: let the structure be the design, then add art on the walls as something extra.

Slightly-stained concrete provides a smooth, solid and modern basis for a quite classic set of wooden treads and risers set within. The addition of small circular lights to illuminate the way also references non-residential stair systems, making the overall effect a curious mix of antique, modern and almost-institutional.

Light and linear, these metal-and-glass stairs from Edico are quite contemporary, but their basic elegance is tempered with the introduction of slight industrial detailing in the form of custom cut-and-bent metal sheets and exposed fasteners.