Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Staircases: How to make the most of staircases

Staircase Spiral designs parts curved

With some imagination you can use the space around stairs effectively

Efficiency of space is of great importance in today's homes. There are various issues that add to the efficiency of a space. Staircases are one of the space-consuming elements in a design that can be planned to enhance the functionality of a home.


A staircase design should be planned to offer simple and convenient access. It should be located in a point which is easy to approach from both the lower and upper levels. When creating access to an upper level of a bungalow, try to accommodate the stair in a position where it will not extend into the prime liveable area. For instance, when planning, ensure that you use the areas that offer good views for living spaces and position the staircases along the lesser important area. It is also important to consider how the stair will be used and where they will be located. A broad, low stairs is apt for a welcoming, generous presence. They usually lead to a main room, such as the family room or living room. Wide steps also provide a display area for oversized vases, potted plants, or small statues. Narrow, steep steps usually lead to more private spaces like bedrooms and study areas. Stairs positioned at the rear of a house are generally for family use. Stairs at the back of a home are likely to be less of a centrepiece. They are in general, less formal and detailed than stairs near the entry.


The key determining factor in deciding the shape of the stair is the extent of available space. A straight stair extends from lower to upper levels in one straight run. Although this is the easiest type of stair to build, it can be difficult to squeeze into a floor plan. Stairs with an L-shape or U-shape stairs are safer and easier to climb; they're often preferred where space allows it. The turning stairs has several variations which are based on the amount of turning that is done during the climb. The four standard types of turning stairs are: quarter-turn, half-turn, three-quarter turn, and one-turn stairs. A spiral stair twists around a center pole in one of two ways. The common spiral stair has a straight center pole with steps radiating out from it; a helix-style spiral has a curving center support that follows the sweeping twist of the stair. Circular stairs take the least space but are also the hardest to climb.

Maximising space

The area beneath the staircase is quite valuable when space is at a premium. There are infinite ideas on how to make the most of this otherwise lost space. We could all use some extra storage space and the space under the stairs could be ideal for a variety of storage needs. Bookcases under the staircase are a good way to use space that would otherwise be wasted. If your stairs is in the front hallway, where unsurprisingly many of the staircase areas are, it could function as a shoe rack. If it's in the bedroom, it could be a cabinet or wardrobe. It could also serve as an efficient toy storage area for your children. For a toy storage area, find baskets, plastic tubs or bins of different sizes and then design shelving of different heights and widths to accommodate them. Ensure that these storage spaces are both attractive and easy to access. It can be simply shelved out and left open, or covered as a complete cupboard.

Besides, you can also consider creating a niche activity space under the stairs. If your stairs faces the living room it could be a music centre or a bar. It can be a small home office, or a small hobby or craft room. If your staircase is located close to the utility areas it could serve as a convenient location for a small laundry room.

A creative use of colour, mirror and light can create the illusion of spaciousness in these imaginative alcoves.

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