One of the biggest challenges when designing a bespoke staircase is when the room has not been designed with the stairs in mind. Most architects design a house so that they can fit a staircase in the room that meets regulations, not one that fits with the future owner’s vision of the house. When the intended staircase is more traditional, you want it to be the center-piece of the room, the first and biggest impact when you enter, not an afterthought slumped in the corner. This was the situation with this house.
With this home the owner wanted something to be a feature as soon as you walk in, large and grand, a true feature of the hallway, taking inspiration from one of our previous staircases. This staircase is special as it curves away the further down it goes, opening up towards the front of the house in an almost intimidating way. This staircase requires a large open hallway to accommodate the way in which the staircase curves as well as having the space for the stairs to be in the center of the room. These are two things our client did not have. Instead the had a staircase intended to hug the back wall and double back on itself, making any curves very difficult.
The stringers are made of thin layers of plywood, these thin layers are bent in place then glued together giving it strength when the glue sets. This curve is particularly difficult as both stringers follow their own unique path. The inside stringer is the shorter of the two with a more severe curve, turning 90 degrees over less than 2 meters. The outside string curves twice, once to the left as to point the staircase facing away from the wall and into the room, the second points away from the stairs allowing it to give the feel of it almost growing as it reaches the center of the room.
Along with the curve, the other design elements of this staircase are taken from a lot of classic American examples. These being:
• Cut String
• Thick Newels with Detailed Inlays
• Contrasting Treads & Risers
• Wrought Iron Spindles
These features add to the general contrasting feel of the house, even though it is a very modern home it has been populated with traditional features throughout and the staircase continues this theme.
The cut string is the most classic form of staircase, encapsulating traditional woodworking techniques. It combines well with the contrasting treads and risers as you can see the contrast from the side of the staircase with the tread overhanging the riser, which wouldn’t be visible from a standard staircase.
The wrought iron spindles are probably the most traditional element on this staircase, giving it a very classic grand feel. With the staircase being cut string, each individual spindle required being cut to a specific size based on its position. the spindles are all powder coated black, maximizing the traditional feel. An alternative to wrought iron spindles are square timber spindles painted white. These don’t necessarily have the grandeur of the wrought iron alternative, but what they do is offer is something less traditional, softening the staircases features. As well as this they can add an extra layer of contrast to the treads and the handrail.