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Staircase handrail: match floor or different wood?

15 years ago

I have always dreamed of having a very dark wood handrail with white painted balusters and newel post with a volute at the bottom of the stairs. I've seen so many pictures of historic homes with this combination but usually the commentary is on the antique furniture and no one mentions what wood was used for the handrail.

Do any of you have any suggestions on what wood to use to achieve this? The floor and stair treads are already cumaru which DH had his heart set on. Should we just match the handrail to the floor? If not, what would be the best wood to use and how are handrails finished? The floor will have waterlox or something similar but it seems to me that the handrail should be finished or polished in some way to keep it from absorbing oil from all the hands using it for support. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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