Staircase sutra...

Staircase sutra...

Home decor

Steps to the top: You could create a powerful design element with your staircase. Observe the knick-knacks on the walls alongside. Photo by Aruna Chandaraju

When the Sharmas were getting their farmhouse made, the first part of their brief to the architect was to see that an arresting staircase be built into the drawing-cum-dining room on the ground floor. They had always wanted a focal point for their dream home in the form of a large staircase descending into the centre of the house.

Powerful design elements

Staircases can be more than utlilitarian features which connect one floor to the other, or vertical passageways.

Though most people actually pay little attention to staircases and think of them merely as means to ascend and descend floors, they are also powerful design elements which can alter the look of a room and in fact, the entire home for the better. Or even for the worse in case of wrong choices.

If you want the staircase to enhance your home and use it as a décor element too, you have to give careful thought to some points. You have to ensure that the staircase design is in synch with the rest of the design theme of the house. A grand, ornate staircase looks good in an ornate home with lavishly done interiors but out of place in a minimalist space. So consider the staircase style and see that it is compatible with the rest of the home.

The material used for the surface should also match with that used for the flooring of the room. A wooden staircase looks perfect in a room with wooden flooring, just as marble and marble  go together.

Wooden staircases

Generally, wooden staircases are more common in staircases inside the house while concrete or iron ones are popular for those outside. However, wooden ones are expensive and also tough to maintain so many go for the standard concrete, stone or iron ones even for interiors. Yet, the handcrafted, hardwood staircases add a touch of class and sophistication to a home which few other materials can match.

For those who like it smooth, white, and sleek-looking, marble is the choice and you might have seen marble-topped floors for indoor staircases in many homes which look stylish and classy if the right variety of marble is used on a well-designed staircase.

Even an aesthetically designed loghome staircase can be an eyecatching feature. Another way to make vertical passageways interesting is to use a spiral staircase in iron with intricate designs along the railings and banisters.

Staircases need to be very well-lit as this is one part of the home where risks of tripping and falling are highest.

So ensure natural lighting by positioning the windows appropriately. And in case, there is a practical problem in getting natural light, install good artificial lighting without scrimping as it is question of safety,  especially if you have small children and elderly people at home. Even Vaastu recommends good lighting at staircases.

You also need to decide whether you want a storage option in your staircase. Some staircases are built with storage space on the side which––with intelligent placement of shelves––acts as a bookcase, showcase, music-corner, etc. Sometimes the first step has an inbuilt drawer which contains shoe-storage space.

What shape?

Finally, what shape are you looking at: spiral, circular or perpendicular? Spiral staircases are generally a choice when there are space constraints but they too can be eyecatching if patterned imaginatively. Circular ones are popular but they consume a lot of space. Stairs can also differ in terms of whether they are wide or narrow, steep or gradual.

The size and shape has implications for its utilitarian aspect. However, whatever the variety, a staircase which ascends gracefully, has an aesthetic design and is well-maintained, is bound to invite attention and praise.

Accessorising a staircase can enhance it greatly. Many heritage homes and colonial-style homes have strikingly designed staircases with intricate designs on the banisters and railings with the first railing being a specially ornamented one.

The handrails are one area on which designers work to make the stairs feature in house an eyecatching one.

Besides structural elements, you can also accessorise a staircase with many décor elements. Elegant stair-runners when used on hardwood floor staircases add colour and a stylish look––and you can use good rugs for this. 

Runners don’t cover the entire width of the stairs. They only run down the centre leaving exposed the area on both ends––that way both the runner and the wood of the stairs are visible. These runners also make the stairs less hazardous since they offer resistance to the walker and thus he gets a better grip and is not likely to slip easily.

Wall by the staircase

The wall beside the staircase is a popular place for displaying framed pieces of art or even cloth wall-hangings and metal murals in most homes.

A good idea is to vary the placement height so they are in proportion with the rising stairs––ie the wall-art is always at shoulder or head height at every step.

However, these pieces should be smaller than the wall art which the homeowner would place against a large, blank wall.

Punctuating the staircase railings with décor elements during functions or parties especially children’s birthdays is also popular.

You must have seen string of garlands around the railings on such occasions. Roses, marigolds and artificial silk flowers and clusters of dried flowers and ferns are often used to accessorise staircases during get-togethers.

Beads, balloons, clusters of fruits, colourful ribbons in satin, silk or in nylon are also used to accessorise staircases.

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