Step up in style: nine inspiring ideas for staircases

Open tread, cantilevered or sweeping spiral? How to make your stairs stand out

RKD Architects: steel stairs at Ballymore-built Dublin Landings is powder-coated in an attention-seeking JCB yellow.

RKD Architects: steel stairs at Ballymore-built Dublin Landings is powder-coated in an attention-seeking JCB yellow.

 

BEST IN CLASS 1

A staircase sets the tone for your home. Sweeping steps say space is a luxury while steps that are too steep to climb leisurely make a home, however spacious, feel somehow constrained. Colour is one way to make a statement. This steel stairs at Ballymore-built Dublin Landings is powder-coated in an attention-seeking JCB yellow. It was fabricated by Co Carlow-based Walls Engineering to a design by Justin Treacy at RKD Architects and creates a focal point for the large space. The choice of such a primary colour means furniture in other strong colours will also pop. rkd.ie; wallsengineering.ie

Stairways Bushy Park Ironworks: captured the floral motifs of the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle work.
Stairways Bushy Park Ironworks: captured the floral motifs of the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle work.

  BEST IN CLASS 2

Inspired by the work of French decorator and furniture maker Louie Majorelle, a leading exponent of the Art Nouveau movement, Bushy Park Ironworks, was commissioned by a Foxrock-based client to design a staircase that captured the floral motifs of the creator’s 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle work. “Its greeting step detail draws the eye upwards to forged leaf and bronze tree motifs that are capped with a satin brass handrail,” explains one of its founders, Colm Bagnall. Something similar will cost from €4,500 per linear metre upwards. Bushyparkironworks.com

George Quinn: newel updates can transform a stair’s look.
George Quinn: newel updates can transform a stair’s look.

BEST IN CLASS 3

Co Monaghan-based George Quinn supplies simple newel updates that can transform a stair’s look in the same way new countertops in a kitchen can spruce up the space. “Trends today are for straight lines as opposed to traditional turnings using a mix of paint and wood, for example, painted spindles, newel posts and strings with American white oak hand rails and caps,” says the firm’s Martin McGinn. Replacing the newel posts, spindles and handrails will require someone with an expertise in carpentry to fit. Prices start from € 1,450 for the Boyne painted range while the Milano white oak or Glass Urbana ranges start from €1,850. The addition of a runner can help reduce any ambient noise levels. georgequinn.ie

GKMP: a double-height stairwell with a lightweight-looking painted steel balustrade.
GKMP: a double-height stairwell with a lightweight-looking painted steel balustrade.

BEST IN CLASS 4 pic Alice Clancy

GKMP’S vaulted house in Sandymount features a double-height stairwell with a lightweight-looking painted steel balustrade, by Dún Laoghaire-based Eugene Downey of OCD Fabrication, designed to bridge its ground and upper levels. It features a brass handrail of a highly polished finish that would make the nuns blush with pride. Supplied by James Healy, it comes in three-metre lengths, about €120 each, ex-VAT, that are then fabricated and finished. They can be either polished or patinated. To commission the railing and balustrades as pictured, primed for painting, will cost about €15,000 says Downey. The solid-oak stair treads and timber lining was made by Watte Woodwork, Ashbourne. The property won the house category of the 2018 RIAI Irish Architecture Awards. gkmp.ie; jameshealy.ie; wattewoodwork.ie

BEST IN CLASS 5

An alternating tread staircase is useful if you’re trying to access a tight space like an attic that is only used for storage purposes because you get twice the going, the horizontal measurement of the tread, for each step, explains agents Charles McCarthy, the firm that recently sale agreed Denniffs Cottage, Ringarogey Island, Baltimore, west Cork, where this barn-red staircase leads from the main studio space to a mezzanine level above. A good carpenter could do something similar.

The Wilder: The classic Manuel Canovas wallpaper here is Les Toits de Paris.
The Wilder: The classic Manuel Canovas wallpaper here is Les Toits de Paris.

BEST IN CLASS 6

A stairwell is a statement in its own right. If it lacks natural light then play with that to create a darkly compelling space, like the Wilder Townhouse, a red-brick Victorian repurposed as a boutique hotel that was designed by architect Grainne Weber who has also just redone the ground floor of the Dylan Hotel. The classic Manuel Canovas wallpaper here is Les Toits de Paris – the Paris rooftops and costs about €160 per roll from a number of Irish stockists. 0manuelcanovas.com

Neptune: paint colour can completely transform your stairs.
Neptune: paint colour can completely transform your stairs.

BEST IN CLASS 7

A simple paint job can completely transform your stairs, especially if you live in a Victorian or Edwardian era abode. The colour palette mood favours nature-inspired shades. Neptune’s Aqua Blue is the colour of the sea on a stormy day and gives great coverage if you opt for a hard-wearing eggshell finish (€70 for 2.5 litres). Match the hall skirting to the stairs to knit the two areas together. Try it using a €6 sample pot. The turnberry console table (€600), Shaftsbury lamp (€150) and Lucile shade (€36), Somerton log basket, (€225) and Corinium pot (€295) are all available to order from Neptune stockists. neptune.com

Melted Snow: elongated spindles create a screen that shields the stairs from view.
Melted Snow: elongated spindles create a screen that shields the stairs from view.

BEST IN CLASS 8

In a very simple mid-century house, Jim Lawler of Melted Snow Architects wanted to create a talking point entrance that would set the tone for the rest of the house. He elongated the spindles to create a screen that shields the stairs from view while still letting light through its fins. He had master craftsman Patrick McKenna of Wabi Sabi fabricate it in oak that was oiled once in situ. meltedsnow.net; wabisabi.ie  

Spiral stairs with runner: a David Hicks design in a shade called Desert Night.
Spiral stairs with runner: a David Hicks design in a shade called Desert Night.

BEST IN CLASS 9

A runner on the stairs is a really easy way to change its entire look. Stark Carpets collaborate with a number of high-profile designers to deliver stonking great weaves in rich colours that can withstand heavy use. Pictured is a David Hicks design in a shade called Desert Night. The 100 per cent wool flooring is available to order from TC Matthews City Quay branch and fitted costs €304 per square metre. If you wanted to add brass rods for a period finish these, fitted, will cost €65 each for a standard width runner.   tcmatthews.ie; starkcarpet.com

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