Stairs . . . they’re both the bane of and the reason for a designer’s existence. Almost every project we work on has at least one set of them.
Staircases are one of those fun architectural elements that can either completely dominate a space or (literally) be shoved out of the way, depending on your needs. They need to be code compliant and functional, but we also want them to be beautiful—occasionally to the point of being sculptural. They take up precious floor space but are also one of the best ways to get vertical communication through spaces, allowing light, sound, heat, and views through two (or more!) stories.
Let’s look at a few, shall we?
Have you seen photos of a staircase like this floating around the Internet, maybe with books or shoes hidden in the drawers? It’s a fun idea to take advantage for what seems like wasted space. Thanks to Hausjournal.net for this great idea!
One downside: It’s difficult to remember what you stored in which drawer. To find an item, you would have to check them all.
In the case above, the drawers take up much of the “wasted” space under the stairs. In our climate, where basements are typical, the space underneath a staircase is often utilized by the required clearance space of another staircase below it.
The idea of stacking staircases has been around a long time— and it saves lots of floor space. These “floating” stairs have a lot of transparency and go up to the second floor and down to the basement, allowing the stories to not be so distinct from one another.
This cabinetry is under a staircase. Stairs enclosed by walls tend to be efficient and relatively inexpensive but can seem narrow, closed-in, and restrictive in how they don’t allow the two stories to interact with each another. One of our favorite things to do with stairs, of course, is make a piece of art out of them. It takes a keen eye for detail and great craftsmanship to create a visually interesting and functional staircase.
Building code requires specific dimensions for the width of a staircase, the height and depth of each step, and for how open the guard rail on the side can be. These limitations can seem frustrating but are in place for a reason: Non-code compliant stairs can be difficult, and sometimes dangerous, to traverse.
Finding solutions to this issue can lead to some interesting and creative ways to make a beautiful piece. Sometimes, we can get a little bit of everything. This staircase is sculptural, incorporates some shelving and seating, and has really comfortable dimensions that make it easy to use, now and in the future. It becomes a functional showpiece that highlights what might be possible.
Stairs comprise a massive subject, one that we’ve only scratched the surface of here. Look at the stairs in your house—there are dozens of ways to improve them. The possibilities are endless!
How do you want your stairs to function, look, and feel?