Design snapshot: Stair with flair

dssboxstair.jpgResidential architects generally love stairs. They invite us to sculpt. Stairs provide scale since step dimensions directly relate to the human body. They offer vertical relief from the otherwise horizontal realm of our day-to-day experience. Mostly they provide an opportunity, in a single architectural feature, to distill an overall design concept. Their form, craftsmanship, materiality, and finish can speak volumes.

This staircase does. It's representative of many finely wrought antique staircases in Salem, Massachusetts. The boxed raised-paneled risers are especially noteworthy. Look closely at the balusters too. There are three per tread -- each a different turned shape above the knuckle. The starting newel is a marvel; the corkscrew shape seems to foretell the winding path of the stair climber. The wall panels below the staircase and the wainscot that travels up alongside it elegantly accommodate the staircases’s dynamic geometry. This staircase is the accent feature in a Georgian home in which carefully proportioned wood details differentiate walls and space throughout. It is uniquely of its time and context.

by Katie Hutchison for the House Enthusiast