Staircase Renovations: Rise to the Challenge
By: Clare Tattersall
Staircase renovations are on the rise in multi-level dwellings. Though generally done as part of a larger remodeling project, staircase upgrades are receiving as much design attention as, kitchen and bath upgrades, for example. And for good reason. Beyond being a functional necessity to link floors, stairs can make a real difference to a home’s aesthetic and value. They’re among the first things people see upon walking through the door, especially given the popularity of the open floor plan, and often speak to the craftsmanship of the rest of the residence.
Here are the top types of staircases (and add-ons) consumers want to step up their style.
The Floating Effect
Cantilever staircases have been favoured for quite some time and they are still a first choice when it comes to more modern, minimalist designs when homeowners want to flood a room with natural light to make the space feel larger. Offering great visual appeal, these staircases are made to have the stair treads appear to be floating in the air without support. To achieve this look, the stair risers don’t rest on wall studs like conventional staircases but rather are connected to a metal framework inside the walls or supported by a concealed frame hidden underneath, thereby leaving the risers exposed to create that suspended look. Cantilever staircases are often composed of a combination of materials, such as wood, stainless steel and glass or acrylic.
Combining materials like warm wood oak stairs with sleek metal banisters and spindles creates contrast that is visually appealing. In recent years, black and powder-coated grey steel was all the rage, but bronze is making a comeback, mainly for renovations that suit traditional interiors.
Spiral or helical staircases are becoming increasingly fashionable. Their ornamental appearance has witnessed a renaissance as of late, thanks to the fact that the curves raise the staircase to an important sculptural element. This adds a dynamic presence to, in particular, an already opulent home. The smooth lines also inject movement into a room. And while they create a sweeping statement, these types of staircases take up less space than most others.
Keeping with the trend of bringing the outdoors inside, an organic timber finish that exposes the original pattern of the grain on an all-wood staircase is having a heyday. Coating in an oil or matte lacquer helps maintain the wood’s warm natural tones.
Consumers who prefer a more toned-down effect but still want the beauty of wood to shine through are embracing the white-washed look. This produces a more casual aesthetic that contributes to the creation of relaxed, peaceful environment.
Wondrous Wall Aesthetics
When thinking of remodeling their staircase, consumers are now considering the impact of adjacent walls, which provide the opportunity to elevate the improvement project. The intentional addition of millwork like wainscotting or other linear panelling adds texture and helps maximize the design features in the actual staircase. The same goes for the creation of a ‘see-through’ wall, whereby straight wooden beams are installed vertically (with spaces between each) directly beside a straight staircase in an open concept layout, creating separation between rooms without visually breaking them up.
Let There Be Light
Staircases can often seem dark due to the lack of natural light. Think intelligently about illumination when embarking on this upgrade. Incorporating lights into the staircase structure, whether a sleek LED strip or smart motion sensors that light up as stairs are traversed, not only acts as a safety feature, helping people see where they’re going, but shines a light on the architectural feature and further modernizes it.
Clare Tattersall is an interior designer and decorator in Toronto, and the editor of Canada’s floor covering magazine, Coverings.