It's been common practice for decades to have custom kitchens, bathrooms, wardrobes, shelving and extensions built for our homes. More recently, we've begun to expand our imaginations to include staircases that are made to suit our personalities and tastes. Stairs tend to be a nondescript presence in a home, a means to get from one floor to the next, but they can be so much more that. They can turn a modest home into a showcase of innovative design, open up space, and even be made into works of art. Now, you can even buy stairs online and get inspiration from the endless range of styles available that really are a world apart from the standard staircases we're used to living with, turning a utilitarian structure into an aspirational piece of design.
I hadn't really thought about stairs until a few years ago, when a family member renovated her house and had a custom design built in wood and glass. It transformed an almost fortress-like casing into an airy partition that looked and felt much more inline with the sophisticated atmosphere created by her art collection and contemporary accessories. It made me think about my stairs at home, and what this rather forgettable late 1920s assemblage of painted wood could be. We did try a few years ago to make them more attractive. Not being keen on the thin grey carpet that covered the steps when we bought the house, we tried to blend them with the upstairs flooring, essentially covering the boxing with that same flooring. Well, although it is safe enough and didn't wind up causing the slipping hazard we feared - we did often slip on the carpet, however! - the people we hired just didn't finish it very nicely, and now I'm determined to take it from being a feature that I am always hoping guests won't notice, to one that becomes the standout star of the house. I've been looking at wooden stairs for sale and the designs available are truly exciting; I see them as a kind of pathway to democracy, a way of being able to achieve the kind of home that once seemed unattainable. My idea of a dream house isn't enormous or ostentatious, rather it's just simply beautiful wherever you look, making the most of what is achievable in the space I have. It's not about 'things' so much as it is clever, elegant design that makes you feel happy to be within it.
The fact that stairs are typically meant to last many lifetimes and rarely require replacing, means that they aren't usually considered for our home renovation To Do lists. They say the kitchen is the heart of the house, and while that's true, stairs also play a significant role within the family home - they connect your precious living spaces. If you put the effort into making your stairs beautiful, it will create a harmony in the home that is immediately felt. That's a very good reason to put new stairs near the top of the To Do list!
Let's take a look at some styles of stairs that will dramatically transform your home:
Replacing your stairs can also lead to a transformation of the space around them once you see what's possible. In the first photo above, tiled stone walls beautifully contrast the warm, rustic wooden stairs. If you live in an English house like I do, you know how our wonky plastered walls can be problematic, and paint only seems to magnify the problem! Rethinking the entire area and choosing materials that work together aesthetically, while also improving imperfections, is a way to effectually feel like you have a brand new home. In the last image, we again see cantilevered floating steps and this time, the space that is usually taken up by a heavy staircase is used to integrate a shelving feature. The wood grounds and adds richness to the airy frosted glass panel that takes the eye upward. Other options include a visually weightless spiral staircase which are popular for basements and lofts, and blending your steps with with the flooring throughout your home to create harmony through visual flow. This is an especially effective trick to use in small or narrow homes to make them feel more spacious.
The added benefit of remodelling stairs that lead to a second floor is that they are usually visible upon entering your front door, so every time you walk into your home you will see the impact of your new feature. And what an impression it will make upon your guests when you open the door!