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  • Writer's pictureJames Treble

The Custom-made Staircase

Understandably the staircase is a strong feature as we often see it the moment we enter a multi-storey home, or as it may be positioned in the very centre of the living area; either way, it’s an imposing structure that’s very hard to hide or discard. The staircase is of course a functional feature but being a large element, it greatly affects the impression we have on a property, that's why it’s important to dedicate great attention to its design: hard to hide, impossible to ignore, like a beauty spot, I prefer to make the staircase a talking point and a sculptural feature every time I can.

enhancing the sculptural element of a staircase

This beautiful Sydney Inner-West property by Camelot Homes, has expansive harbour views and despite being on a narrow block, its cleverly designed floor-plan makes the most of the sloped location, opening the views and taking in the natural light. This staircase joins the three levels and is positioned in the very middle of the living area where along with the owners, we decided from the start to make it a prominent feature. Inspired by industrial looks, the steps are made of Cor-Ten steel creating a continuous sheet of iron which, without apparent support, gives the impression of being effortlessly suspended.

To enhance its apparent lightness we decided to avoid an intrusive traditional balustrade and as the homeowners did not want the maintenance of clear glass, the design solution was for vertical steel rods. This choice helped maintain the counter-lever effect of the staircase whilst allowing you to see through to the wall, thus adding to the sense of spaciousness in the room. The non-intrusive quality of the thin rods and a cleverly placed skylight on the top floor allow natural light to flood into the centre of the home, and help avoid the dark space which is common to find in this area with many homes.

As usual the devil is in the detail. For example, the rods had to be evenly spaced and drilled through the steps in perfect alignment to maintain the perfect vertical lines through three levels, and although a lengthy and meticulous job, it satisfied both the ADHD designer (me) and the owner! LOL. Due to safety standards, we had to add a continuous handrail, for which we reprised the industrial theme. To avoid it competing with the clean lines of the overall design, we opted for a very thin, wall mounted design in the same steel material, which resulted in a streamlined diagonal effect; an added feature to help lead the curious eye to the upper level. The wall-inserted down-lights close to the steps offer of course safety but also a gentle and precious highlight to the sculptural qualities of this staircase.

After some discussion, we happily agreed not to cover the steps of the staircase, instead opting to celebrate both the material and the organic imperfections on this hand-made piece, as well as its simple ‘almost-origami’ folded appearance. Finally, as no item tends to sit in isolation, the surrounding timber floor finish and design was chosen to balance the strength of the metal with organic warmth, whilst the high-end design and finishes of the nearby kitchen, not only remind us of the meticulous attention applied to the design of the entire home, but pleasantly converses with this industrial-inspired piece.

Industrial looks for high-end homes

As this home’s design created a large open-plan central level, making the most of the space and natural light, the centrally placed staircase position meant we really had no choice but to make it a talking point. The result of many conversations, sketches and site visits, this practical and functional feature has become one of the many successful elements of this beautiful new Camelot Home. So, instead of hiding its location, I believe it's always worth celebrating the staircase with a choice of interesting materials and clever design. It will not only assist greatly with flow and natural light, but also become a strong feature of your homes' design, positively effecting the ‘look and feel’ of the home and ultimately greatly increasing the property's value. What do you think?

James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design and regularly shares his knowledge and experience in adding value to homes through clever design & styling. Watch his free videos on YouTube, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more free information.


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