The original staircase and bridge in this converted barn were finished in oak which did little to enhance the building’s original oak beams. The owners had subsequently painted the staircase white in an attempt to alleviate the problem, but without success. They commissioned Bisca to rethink access to the upper floor entirely and to create a new “easier going” staircase that didn’t distract from the open-plan living area.
The previous chunky, straight, steep flight dominated the entrance and its central position reduced head height at the top of the stairs.
Richard McLane, Bisca’s Founder and Design Director, designed a new staircase with a gentler, sweeping flow, creating a feature by the front door without taking away from the drama of the double-height space beyond.
To address the awkward layout, Bisca repositioned the staircase to the right, widening the entrance hall, and curving the stairs gently down from the landing towards the main living space. A slimline landing, with an elongated area one step down from the mezzanine level, was created at the top of the stairs, giving easier access to both left and right.
The slim nature of the staircase was particularly desirable on the top landing as it needed to interface with the existing bridge, whilst improving both the thoroughfare below the staircase and the head height below the first-floor beam. The supporting white-painted steel stringer is set slightly in from the edge of the timber to give the staircase a lighter feel. The forged, tapered stainless-steel uprights gently curve out at the top to create a generous feeling of space and further augment the curve of the staircase.
“Reducing any feeling of bulk was important to the design and the use of steel allowed us to make a structure that is extremely slim and elegant whilst also providing the strength required for the longer, more comfortable staircase,” explained McLane. By choosing materials which complemented the building’s original structures, Bisca’s new design considerably reduced the visual impact of the staircase. The treads and handrail were made in pale ash to enhance the exposed beams while the white-painted stringer and stainless-steel balustrade sit harmoniously in the room, referencing elements of the interior. The bridge was given glass balustrades on both sides, removing the visual barrier of the double-height room.