Generally the only two storey space, or space of significant height, in your average house…

  • Use the staircase to get light deep down into the hall/ground floor of a 2 storey house by the use of judiciously placed roof-lights.
  • Where the stairs is badly designed or located, re-locating the staircase can yield surprising results and provide an opportunity to transform the house in many ways.
  • A central runner, where a narrow strip of carpet is placed on the middle of the steps, with painted or natural timber each side, is a simple way to add a touch of elegance to any staircase.
  • Painting timber balusters can often improve light levels in the stairs/hall, with the handrail stained a natural tone where it is a choice timber.
  • Replacing the handrail and baluster where perhaps it is of dated and even unsafe design is surprisingly economical, many firms specialise in this area.
  • Maximise the usefulness of the under-stairs area by providing the fullest extent of access possible, with a number of doors instead of the traditional one. Better still, consider pull-out units for optimal access.
  • Investigate if a hanging rail can be accommodated here, if you wish to accommodate coats and jackets in this space.

Our Stairs and Landing…

  • White oak is used for the treads, risers and landing. The solid oak steps muffle noise, although we did consider a carpet runner for safety when the children were younger.
  • The solid handrail is of  birch ply, a light coloured, smooth material made up of layers of birch veneer.
  • Wide, glass strips in the roof maximise the natural light to the stairs and landing, lighting the central area of the open plan space below also.
  • A flexible space off the landing to the front of the house – currently acting as TV Room and Study/Office – may be opened up to act as an extension of the landing, or closed off to form a completely separate space. This space was inspired by the generous landings of many Victorian houses.
  • Our “Utility” area is housed under the stairs, with the washing machine, drier, hot water cylinder and storage shelving all located here. Clothes for airing may be hung on hangers in this space, using the residual heat from the hot water cylinder, while items awaiting ironing are stored on the worktop above the machines. Modern machines are generally quiet, so noise intrusion is minimal (an important factor, given that the stairs open off the living room). This space is a huge bonus in the house, meaning that clothes airing – a perennial problem in this climate – is conveniently and unobtrusively catered for.

Things I would change…

  • Access to the under-stairs area was designed with aesthetics, not accessibility, in mind and could be vastly improved!
  • A hanging rail would be even more convenient for airing clothes: they currently hang off the shelves built into the underside of the steps.