The layout of the majority of UK houses, particularly those built in the Victorian and Edwardian eras and between the wars, places the staircase in view of the front door. This means that the first thing anyone sees when entering your house is the route upstairs.
But while many homeowners have invested large amounts of money bringing their kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms up to date with the latest trends in interior design, their house’s staircase has remained untouched since new carpet was laid.
The stairway is often one of the most undervalued areas of the house. But every time your guests travel between floors, they will notice if it’s been neglected in favour of the beautifully furnished rooms surrounding it.
Andy Rutter, the owner of Steel and Glass Balustrades – the UK’s leading supplier and fitter of domestic and commercial balustrades – examines four ways of creating a contemporary stairway to heaven.
Usually installed in houses where space is an issue, curved stairways are designed to hug the contours of your home without restricting the areas above and below. Formed from a variety of different materials, including varnished wood and wrought iron, the spiral staircase can complement any aesthetic. In more spacious houses, they can become a striking centrepiece, descending from the ceiling into airy hallways, uncluttered by normal steps.
One hot trend at the moment sees designers creating floating stairways. Combining wood and glass can create the illusion of walking on air. Reinforced glass frames hold the individual wooden steps in place, as if they were simply suspended there. Glass balustrades are usually advised as a safety feature, but can also make sleek frames when topped with wooden handrails.
Industrial chic is very on-trend, with carved concrete becoming an established feature of many contemporary homes. Concrete staircases can be crafted from one chunk of stone or fitted together from separate pieces to bring a minimalist edge to your renovations. Coupling this with glass skylights and steel finishings can turn your stairway into an urban dream.
For those with open-plan hallways, a sweeping, wider staircase can make the most of this space. While more traditional stairways might appear out of proportion in the expanse, these staircases certainly won’t be overlooked. Choose thick, white wood for the steps and complete with a curved, steel railing for a truly modern facelift.