How to cre­ate your own stair­way to heaven

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - HOMES - CON­NIE OLIVER

If you find that your home is lack­ing drama, you might want to con­sider high­light­ing an of­ten for­got­ten ar­chi­tec­tural fea­ture, the stair­case.

Stairs, by their very na­ture are vis­ually in­ter­est­ing. They pro­vide drama through height, re­peated pat­tern and de­tails such as rail­ings, spin­dles and newel posts, de­pend­ing upon your spe­cific sit­u­a­tion. All of these el­e­ments can be used to cre­ate drama and fo­cus in a myr­iad of ways.

De­pend­ing upon the spe­cific stair­case de­sign and lo­ca­tion in your home, there are many op­tions for change and po­ten­tial visual drama for each sit­u­a­tion.

The vis­ually stun­ning stair­way in our fea­ture photo, cour­tesy of Sico Paints, is just one ex­am­ple of how a lit­tle paint can add tons of visual ap­peal. You can see how dark colours add drama, es­pe­cially when con­trasted with the white floor and the light that is re­flected through the stair­case be­cause it lacks ris­ers. The look is min­i­mal­is­tic but graphic, rest­ful yet oddly in­spir­ing.

This par­tic­u­lar colour scheme is from Sico’s Switch­ing Off pal­ette that in­cludes del­i­cate, smoky tones of blue-tinted blacks, snow-capped whites and har­mo­niz­ing greys and tau­pes. In a home-dé­cor set­ting, these colours can be trans­formed into so­phis­ti­cated con­trasts through in­ter­play of matt and high gloss, emit­ting a sense of still­ness and cre­ativ­ity.

Other ideas for a seem­ingly “float­ing” stair­case in­clude in­stalling Plex­i­glas walls in place of a solid half-wall, car­pet­ing each tread for tac­tile com­fort and tex­ture, or paint­ing each tread in a var­ie­gated colour pal­ette, just to name a few.

More of­ten than not, a stair­case will have ris­ers, a hand rail­ing and spin­dles. If the rail­ing and/or spin­dles are made of wood, then you have a lot of op­tions with re­gard to the look you can cre­ate. Be­cause you can see through the spin­dles, paint­ing the main wall along the stairs in a vivid colour will al­low for a great fo­cal fea­ture.

A sump­tu­ous wall colour, like pump­kin for in­stance, set be­hind soft white spin­dles could be stun­ning in the right space. Dark wood spin­dles could work in the re­verse, with a light colour on the main wall to con­trast the dark fea­tures.

Break­ing up that main wall is an­other way to go. In­stall wain­scot­ing up the stair­way wall and down into the land­ing to give the area even more ar­chi­tec­tural ap­peal. Rich paint colour or even pat­terned wall­pa­per on the top por­tion of the wall will look stun­ning against the lower, light wain­scot­ing.

If this idea is too pricey, con­sider cre­at­ing a sim­i­lar look us­ing wall­pa­per on the lower por­tion of the wall and bor­der­ing it with dec­o­ra­tive trim. It’s a less-per­ma­nent way to go and def­i­nitely af­ford­able.

You could also mimic the ef­fect of wain­scot­ing by in­stalling dec­o­ra­tive trim to the lower por­tion of the wall to cre­ate sep­a­ra­tion and faux wall pan­els, and then paint two co-or­di­nat­ing colours on the up­per and lower por­tions of the wall.

Paint­ing the stairs

Paint­ing wooden stairs is def­i­nitely an op­tion to change the look of your stair­case. I rec­om­mend car­pet­ing at least the mid­dle of the treads for safety rea­sons. Slick stairs are a dis­as­ter just wait­ing to hap­pen. Even pets can slip and fall down un­car­peted stairs.

Save your cre­ative paint­ing for use on the ris­ers rather than the treads. On the ris­ers you can paint bright colours, sten­cils, quotes, in­stall colourful tiles, house num­bers, vin­tage li­cence plates and all sorts of other unique ideas. Do a search on the web for im­ages of stair­way dé­cor to get more ideas.

Use unique items like boat oars or drift­wood as ban­nis­ters to cre­ate a beach or cottage look. If car­pet­ing the treads, con­sider us­ing in­ex­pen­sive car­pet rem­nants in co­or­di­nat­ing colours for a truly unique look.

Open space un­der­neath a stair­case is a great place for dis­play. A con­sole ta­ble, small desk or hall ta­ble, de­pend­ing upon the space avail­able, can house tons of daily items like mail, gloves and keys. Per­haps you need ex­tra stor­age for CDs and DVDs and could cre­ate a built-in unit that will be both use­ful and at­trac­tive. This might also be a good area for a wine rack, bookshelf or what-have-you.

Cre­ate a fo­cal point when look­ing up the stairs. If there is a sub­stan­tial land­ing, hang a large paint­ing or mir­ror to cre­ate a lit­tle drama. A small con­sole ta­ble with a large vase of flow­ers could work if you have the floor space. You want to lead the eye up the stair­way in an invit­ing way.

What­ever projects you de­cide on, con­sider the view from both ends of the stairs to en­sure over­all co­he­sion. Also pay at­ten­tion to lighting to gauge your colours choices and dis­play op­tions.

Keep safety in mind as well. Don’t have items hang­ing on the wall or sit­ting on the stairs that will im­pede safe pas­sage.

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