The stairs in your home are an essential element for moving between floors, but rather than being a purely practical part of your home, the flight can have a surprising influence on the overall aesthetics of a property. Spiral, helical, floating, cantilevered, freestanding...there are many design options to consider, plus placement is another big decision. For instance, do you want it to be the first thing people see in an entrance hall, or could it add extra wow factor to your main living space?
Here are my top five tips for getting the most out of your staircase.
1. Plan early
It’s surprising how many people leave choosing their staircase until after the house design process. Instead, it should be a consideration right from the start as it will heavily influence a number of factors, such as layout and materials palette. Outline how much you can afford to spend, whether you want it to become a focal point and think about what style will work with the rest of the interior. It goes without saying that your staircase must conform to Building Regulations, so work with your architect or designer to understand what’s best for your property.
2. Integrate it into the overall design
Another reason to plan early is that, as a major element of the internal scheme, the positioning will heavily influence the overall flow of the new property’s floor plan. Where the flight is placed will impact on windows, doors, upper rooms and more. The style will have an effect, too, whether that means taking design cues from materials, for instance, or making space for a freestanding helical flight.
3. Think about how it will be used
This might feel like it has an obvious answer, but understanding who will be using the staircase will heavily influence the design. For instance, if you have a young family, closed steps are more advisable than open risers. In terms of aesthetics, if the flight is leading to an open gallery, could the same balustrade continue from the staircase into this space? Will including lighting in the treads bring an aesthetically pleasing dimension as well as a practical source of illumination?
4. Create an appropriate superstructure
Stairs are a structural element, so the right precautions need to be made to support the weight of the flight within the new house. What’s needed will depend on the style you’ve gone for – for example, if you’re keen on a cantilevered staircase then you will need to think about your wall structure and how you will phase the installation process with plasterers and decorators. Alternatively, if you prefer a hung or self-supporting design, you’ll need to consider the fixing points and how the staircase will fit within the opening.
5. Coordinate with the interior finishes
Think about how your staircase can complement the other parts of your home. Do you want to colour match your treads with the doors or flooring? Glass railings suit contemporary schemes, or will traditional wooden spindle railing be more in-keeping?