Sunday, October 2, 2011

Stairway to Heaven: Before and After

OK not literally, but if you wanted to build one this might be the right direction. I am working with a young family that is updating and modernizing their somewhat dated home. The sweeping staircase is the first thing you see when you come into the home, but it didn't sweep you off your feet. Here is my playbook to doing it right.

Before: Great shape, not-so-great style for a soon to be modern home.

Concept photo: We loved the style and look of this staircase. I really like the outline profile of this, but to get that full continuous outline, the riser of the stair would need to be a stained wood as well. That works on this particular staircase, but for the large sweeping staircase I am working on, it would be a bit of a heavy look.

Concept photo: This staircase has a nice classic and simple look. The white riser gives it a clean feel. You can see that the moulding profile of the edge of the tread gives it more of a traditional feel.

Detail Drawing for Staricase: To update the stairs, I decided to go with a no-profile, square edge on the side of the tread. I did a bit thicker/chunkier tread than normal, it gives a sleek custom look. I wanted to keep some classic elements to the stairs, so I specified a traditional recessed detail on the posts, but helped modernize it with a very thin vertical panel, with no other detail. You can see the side apron has a custom three-tiered detail (if you are building something custom, at least make it look custom)

After: Look how great the curve is emphasized. The smaller center railings are a painted steel. To keep it from feeling too "commercial" I did the thick square handrail in wood, instead of steel.

After: Not quite complete. I wanted to treat the interior curved wall with something subtle but unique, to really make that feature stand out. As I write, that material is on it's way from England.

This is the material for the curved wall, and the icing on the cake. It is from Zoffany and I have used it before and love it. It has a commercial coating on it, and will hold up great to dragging fingers, and kids.


  1. You know I love this, Nathan! I never would have thought that staircase could look so great!

  2. Jen, we could take this out, and plug it right into your house as a perfect fit (we just need to add a second story)

  3. Thanks Nathan! Everyone that walks into my house is always that the wallpaper is up it looks amazing!