Stairs And Screens Oh My!

Stairs are an ENORMOUS opportunity for clever, sexy design.  Don’t believe it?  Go hang out at Stair Porn and lose yourself in the visual delights of their collection of dynamic, clever, and gorgeous stairs.  Just don’t let your ol’ carpet-over-2x-framed stairs catch you looking.

We decided early on that our design should pack a punch in a couple key places.  One is the exposed joists in the living room (inspiration here), and the other is obviously where this post is going… the stairs.  Two main components to play with regarding stairs are the steps and the code-required guardrail (never mind the ultra-cool minimalist ones you see in High Design rags with no rail at all!)  Production homes frequently feature drywall at stair walls, providing cheap fall protection. Many designers meet the guardrail requirement with a beautiful screen wall.  Here are a few favorites I’ve seen recently:



We’re particularly fond of the wood slat screen wall look, and after considering what to do, we decided that vertical slats are the way to go (no dusting!) and that using the dimensions of a 2×4 would allow us the option of cheap framing lumber if a nicer hardwood proves too expensive.

|from our previous design – view from the kitchen showing stairs (and exposed L.R. joists)|

Furthermore, when we moved the stairs to the middle of the house we decided the upper flight should have “open” risers so that more light could come through.  The chunky steps could be milled from the trees we take down on the lot (there is a sawmill in the family!!), or from a couple local sources we have.  From the nearly complete Construction Documents:

The lower flight will have closed risers to provide storage space underneath, but the tread will have a nosing that matches the upper flight for continuity.  I have a few ideas for some dramatic but cheap lighting with rope LEDs, and wa-lah.  Pretty sexy, right?


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