Houseplans Blog


Stairs can deliver drama to your plan.
As you browse floor plans for your new house pay special attention to the stairway -- it should do more than get you up and down.

It can double as a lightwell, storage and display wall, extra seating, and even become a sculptural accent. Here are some examples to help your imagination take “flights.” The contemporary wood, metal, and  glass Craftsman style stairway shown above gives storage and circulation a little drama. (Photo courtesy Sunset).  It recalls stair-shaped Japanese tansu or storage cabinets, like this contmpoary version, below,
from Berkeley Mills. Compare it to a more abstract interpretation of the stair-step tansu (courtesy Veverka
Architects). The imaginative use of two scales — larger for the cabinets and display shelves, smaller for the steps themselves — makes this stairway multifunctional and dramatic.

The Greene Brothers created one of the most famous staircase sculptures in their extraordinary design for

the Gamble House in Pasdena. You can see — in the way the polished wood interlocks and overlaps — how the stair is both a stair and a magnificent piece of furniture. 

A simpler Shaker-like approach turns the underside of a stair into a chest of drawers.
See how the ends of some of the drawers are shaped to fit the angle of the stair. (Photo by Ctd 2005 through Creative Commons).  You could turn one of the steps into a storage compartment -- hinge a tread to make a lift-up lid. 

Here's an example by architect Sarah Susanka from Plan 454-12, showing how her stairwell functions as a miniature library with book and display shelves on the landing.

Stairs Inspiration

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