Stair in style

Christmas is over and when you remove the decorations everything looks bare. It’s a good time to freshen up the first impression – the entrance hall and stairs, writes Dr Vanessa Brady

If you have a staircase, you could freshen up an old handrail, string or balustrades with metal, glass and wood combinations for a relatively low cost which would make a huge design improvement and statement. The depth of the tread matters; a narrow tread (where you place your foot) might cause slips and falls whilst the riser (the section between each tread) determines the incline. If it’s too high, your staircase will be steep, and if it’s short it will be shallow – surprisingly shallow stairs are easier to slip on. Building regulations set the height and that determines the number of stairs in a flight. As designers it’s the width of the staircase that we address. The wider the staircase, the more luxurious it becomes – yes, the balustrade can enrich it, but a wide staircase is the key.

If you have space the final stair might be a wrap around adding to a sense of grandeur. The style of the house is complimented by architectural features such as the cornice, the skirting boards and doors. It’s the staircase that connects all these features together.

Stairs can be carpeted, which adds to a sense of luxury although it can be easier to miss your footing on carpet than wood, vinyl or stone. On the other hand, if you do chose carpet, choose the pattern and pile with care. The flatter the pile the safer it is. Add pattern with caution as you need to see with ease where each stair ends – an issue for everyone with impaired vision. Altered floor heights add to the risk.

The finish – carpet, runners, sisal, wood, stone treads or vinyl – they each change the staircase image immensely. I choose vinyl and wood for areas where rubbish or liquids will be carried to prevent risk of soling. I only use carpet in areas where it adds to the luxury.

The risers are where you can have some fun. Paint them, add a tongue-and-groove router finish riser, or add a stair tread. You can change the atmosphere with a painted riser mixed with a timber tread, the tone of the wood to personalise your entrance in a fun, modern or traditional way.

Dr Vanessa Brady OBE, 
International Interior Designer, SBID CEO