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Step it up

Create a stylish, functional staircase for your home

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To pick the right staircase, take a step back before taking one up or down. In doing so, you’ll learn staircases are more than a functional object to get your family from one floor to another; they can be stylish, innovative, and practical, says Stacie Rimmer, co-owner of Project 38 Design Studio in Halifax.

The contrast between the stair’s stained edge and the white wall adds interest to this living room.

“You have to get the nuts and bolts at the beginning,” she says. “Then we can get into the style we want, the colours we want, what we want the railing to be.” Consider the home’s overall look and size, project budget, and provincial building codes before marrying the look you want for your stairs, says Rimmer.

Keep in mind what materials are available in your region. “There’s just so many things you see on social media, Instagram, Pinterest, in magazines; all these different options that we can’t do here that people may be drawn to,” says Damien Packwood of Damien Morris Designs in Charlottetown. Packwood suggests looking beyond popular designs. “You have to think of your lifestyle and how it’s going to play out,” says Packwood.

This open staircase avoids blocking the flood of light from the patio doors.

Also think about who lives in your home and how they use your stairs. Many clients like the look of white handrails, which are often shown on television and magazines says Packwood, but they aren’t always practical. “Especially if you have young kids white is very unforgiving. It would always look dirty,” he says. “I try to push people to do a stained handrail because it’s more forgiving.

Carpeted stairs aren’t as popular these days, but carpet runners are still common. Rimmer says they can be a design choice or be used to help with mobility.

“If you have pets that have a hard time getting up and down the stairs, that’s always a great option to be able to have there; it can also translate into toddlers and children or for people at any age,” says Rimmer.

When it comes to renovating an existing staircase, Jennifer Kydd, co-owner of Project 38 Design, says many of her clients look for a modern design that doesn’t isolate itself from the rest of the house. “Things have become a bit more minimalist and modern, clean, not a lot of etching and detail,” she says.

Specifically, Kydd says, try a rounded tread or square spinal to add a more contemporary look. “It’s details that aren’t in your face.”

Homeowner Adam Barrett designed these railings himself.

Some homeowners want stairs to stand out, not blend in. To do this, Packwood suggests bypassing wood. “A floating staircase with a glass handrail is something that really opens up the space and it becomes more of an architectural piece,” he says. “It’s really good in houses and cottages, places with a lot of windows and glass.”

Kydd says homeowners should always make sure the stairs meet one other piece of criteria: personal style. So, no matter what is suggested, their staircase reflects themselves. “A staircase can be where you show a lot of personality in your home,” she says.

Correction: In the print edition of this store, we misstated Damien Packwood’s last name. East Coast Living regrets the error. 

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