When I start a residential project I immediately get to work on the design of these areas:
- Spatial planning (are the sizes and shapes of the rooms suitable for their function)
- Services (plumbing and electrical)
- The Staircase Design
- Kitchen Design (for planning of services)
- Ceiling and lighting layouts
Of course there is so much more than just those points to consider, but these are the 5 that I need to tackle first to ensure that the Main Contract has all the information he needs upfront so that the project can take off with no delays. Being unsure of what you want the staircase to look like while the builder is busy with building work on site is going to put a lot of pressure on everyone. You might find out too late that the staircase you have in mind can’t be achieved due to engineering issues that could have been solved before construction began.
The staircase is no longer just a functional part of the building, these architectural structures have become an important feature of the interior, and often one of the first things you see on entering the house. I just love staircases that are light and give the effect that they are floating. I prefer not to tile the staircase mainly because I am not a fan of all the grout lines. Marble or Quartz clad staircases give a classy look. But my favourite staircase treatment is the fully encased timber tread. Adding timber elements into an interior gives a wonderful feeling of warmth, and the popularity of wood elements in an interior can be seen in the ever increasing use of engineered wooden floors and wood accents in furniture detailing.
The stair treads can either “float” off the side wall (there are certain requirements to ensure that this is structurally sound so you need to consult your specialist or engineer very early on in the design stages) or center rib staircases that also achieve that light and airy look, but gives the stairs a modern and slightly industrial feel. In order to achieve this the stair treads are mostly finished with timber “box treads”, which wrap around a steel or caged concrete structure. Painting the center rib with a matt black, charcoal or the same as the wall colour has also become an interesting visual tool to allow the timber treads to stand out and create the feature point.
For timber staircases I turn to the specialists, and I have seen such stunning results when working with Kaljon. They listen to my ideas and answers all my questions. We go over the final look that I want to achieve and then I comfortably hand over the design and detailing to them to make it all happen.
I asked Tom from Kaljon to tell me a bit more of what they are seeing in the Interior Design industry and to give us some advice:
“The future of staircases is exciting. New developments in formwork and finishes are being developed every day. We at Kaljon have developed our first central timber stringer staircase and have developed a timber box tread that allow all mitres to stay tight no matter what the season. Inlays of brass or stainless steel in timber to create subtle detailing are becoming a future trend. But it seems wood will remain a growing trend in the residential and commercial markets for quite some time.
- Cheaper is not always better. A seasoned staircase specialist will give you a product that adds more value to your home than the cost of the staircase.
- Junctions, Junctions, Junctions: With mixed material staircases (steel, timber, glass) there are probably more junctions than any other part of your house, and you will most likely be working with more than one sub-contractor. Make sure you use contractors who understand how each other’s trades work to ensure the best and neatest junctions between them. I have seen too many staircases where a steel or concrete structure is put in long before considering how the timber treads or balustrades will be fitted. This can impact the aesthetic of your staircase hugely. It is usually best to work with contractors who have worked with each other in the past.
- An extremely important point that often gets overlooked is to ensure that you have enough space for your staircase. Although building regulation calls for a minimum tread depth of 250mm and a maximum riser height of 200mm. The most comfortable staircase is one with a tread depth of 300mm and a riser height of 175mm. If the staircase is your primary access between floors, ensure that it is approximately 1.1 – 1.2 meters wide to allow two people to pass each other comfortably”.
And to finish off any staircase you need a balustrade. Balustrades used to be very detailed and “frilly” but the term “less is more” has taken hold when it comes to balustrades. Glass (although expensive) has become a great way to achieve a floating staircase experience, and it also allows more light into the staircase opening so you get that airy feel. The glass balustrades can be coupled with a timber top rail to remove the possibility of fingerprints on the glass and are warmer to hold than steel.
There are so many different balustrade ideas that we might need to look at this as a topic for a future blog. For now, if you want more information, feel free to visit www.jossi.co.za or email email@example.com; or you can contact Kaljon on 031 700 3910 or www.kaljon.co.za
Photos supplied by Jossi Design and Kaljon