Lifestyle

How to wake up your stairs

Your stairs may not get as much attention as other spaces in the house, like the kitchen and living room, but it should be. A beautiful staircase can tie your home together and make moving from floor to floor enjoyable.

“It shouldn’t be tiring and boring,” says Fawn Galli, an interior designer based in New York. “It has to be the kind of magical space you move through.”

Philip Mitchell, an interior designer based in Toronto, says stairs are one of his favorite spaces to design: “Whether they’re modern, traditional or somewhere in between, they are the best place to have the most fun and really show someone’s personality on display.”

Because stairs are often front and center when guests come through the front door, but not a space where you spend a lot of time, “you have the opportunity to do something really interesting,” says Mitchell. , without worrying much about whether it will be visually overwhelming.

Ms. Galli, Mr. Mitchell and other designers have shared ideas for updating your stairs.

If you have a wooden staircase that you want to update, painting is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to make a big change. Popular techniques are to paint the entire staircase a single color or use two contrasting colors for the stairs (horizontal part) and steps (vertical part). But you can also do something more striking.

To update the stairs in a home in Cornwall, Conn., Ms. Galli painted the steps blue and the steps white, then added a bold black stripe that extended up the middle like a paint run . “We wanted to make it feel stylish, thoughtful and important,” she says. “It creates a sense of place, even if it’s a moment of transition.”

Other options include painting each step with a progressively lighter shade of the same color, to give the stairs an ombré look; use stencils to add patterns, letters or numbers to the window; or, if you’re artistically inclined, create a custom pattern or arrangement of stripes that are hand-painted or covered with painter’s tape.

Gluing wallpaper on drywall is an easy way to give stairs a distinct look, but the same material can be used in many different ways. Mark D. Sikes, a Los Angeles-based designer, enlivened a staircase by framing strips of hand-painted Gracie wallpaper with molding, creating the look of a paneled wall.

“There was no budget to do hand-painted wallpaper over the entire entrance,” said Mr. Sikes. “So the alternative we came up with – which is also very interesting – is to take some panels and frame them to create some interest and define the color palette.”

Shelly Lynch-Sparks, founder Hyphen & Co., an interior design firm based in New York, used to wallpaper not only the stairs in a house in Mattituck, NY, but also the ceiling above. “It added a layer to the space,” Ms. Lynch-Sparks said. “You see it from pretty much every point in the house.”

If you’re going to add wallpaper to your stairs, she recommends choosing a product made from a durable material, like the commercial vinyl wallpaper she used in Mattituck.

“If you look at most pubescents, they’ve been fooled,” she said. “So you want to make sure you’re using premium wallpapers” that won’t be easily destroyed by traffic.

If you want to wallpaper the stairs but are worried about wear and tear, another option is to use ceramic tiles. When Mr. Sikes recently designed a Mediterranean-style home in Los Angeles, he added blue and white Portuguese ceramic tiles on the steps of the main staircase, just inside the front door. On the wall beside the stairs, he installed small shelves of blue-and-white ceramic vases, which introduce a color scheme that is repeated throughout the house.

“Brick is really beautiful and relates to dining rooms and large rooms,” said Mr. Sikes.

The stair runner – a strip of carpet that runs up the middle of the stairs – doesn’t just change the look of the steps. It also provides comfort and grip underfoot, and can dampen sound.

Solid-colored rugs, simple patterns, or heavily textured materials like sisal can make a ho-hum staircase look more luxurious. But you don’t necessarily have to play it safe.

“I like them to be fun,” says Ms. Galli, who regularly installs stairs in her projects. “The wilder, the better.”

In one house, she installed a jogger from the Rug Company with a model by Diane von Furstenberg depicting large-scale cheetahs. In another, she wore a runner-up with a fish school design. In one more she wears one with a black line running up the center, fading to blue at the edges.

“A pattern or just one color can make it fun, classy and exciting,” says Ms. Galli.

One of Mitchell’s favorite decorations is to fill the stairs with top-to-bottom art that extends from the stairs to the ceiling. “We made a gallery wall above the stairs,” he says.

If you want to do the same thing, he recommends making all other elements — the wall paint, stairs, and railings — as neutral and as quiet as possible. Then consider the artwork you have to hang.

“We usually start with the main pieces – the biggest pieces in the collection – and decide what our focus will be,” he says.

Typically, the largest pieces will be at the top or bottom of the stairs, or on the landing, he says. He would then fill the wall around those pieces with smaller pieces. Framed paintings and prints are most common, but Mr. Mitchell also sometimes uses objects. In his second home in Nova Scotia, he decorated the stairs with decorative fish plates on a plate rack. For another project, he installed a small shelf of sculptural ceramic vases in the stairwell, inside a larger wall of paintings.

If you are remodeling your home, you have the opportunity to make more drastic changes to the stairs. Whether you decide to rebuild the entire staircase or change just a few components, the options for customization are endless. Caleb Johnson, an architect based in Portland, Maine: “If you’re making an architecturally important staircase, it has hundreds of parts.”

One of the most imperative ways to update stairs is by replacing handrails and balustrades. For example, instead of using traditional wooden stakes, you can build a balustrade out of stretch metal cables or tempered glass panels. Mr Johnson sometimes makes custom metal railing panels that are fastened to wooden stairs with screws. Other times, he chooses wooden handrails with beautifully crafted curves, sometimes pairing them with uncommon metalwork or a modern new pillar.

Toronto-based designer Mitchell once did an even simpler thing to build a custom balustrade: He threaded a thick rope through metal wall mount brackets.

Overhauling a staircase, or even part of a staircase, is an opportunity to get creative, but it’s important to know local building codes that prescribe many requirements, including no the maximum allowable space between the clusters and the perimeter of the balustrade.

However, within those rules, there is still a lot of room to play. As Mr Johnson noted, “You should always be looking for those moments where instead of marching the way you always do things, you can celebrate things in a different way than expected.”

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https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/realestate/how-to-wake-up-your-staircase.html How to wake up your stairs

Fry Electronics Team

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