Stop and Stair

My stair

When we were looking for houses in Sacramento, we fell in love with a neighborhood called Curtis Park. The houses date from the turn of the century and most were completed before the 1940's. We bought our first house in this neighborhood, and started our family there. When it came time to find a larger house, we couldn't bear to leave the neighborhood. So we patiently waited. We contemplated adding a second story to our existing house, but didn't think it would pencil out. So we waited some more. Through a total fluke, we found this house....our new-old house. And one of the things that sold us was this staircase. Every day I climb these stairs and think how fortunate am I to get to see them everyday. The craftsman detailing runs throughout the house, but it is the staircase that really shows it off.

The staircase provides such an opportunity to showcase interesting detailing, and can be such an important feature in a home. I have gathered a few that have been collecting in my "idea files" to show you exactly what I mean.

House and Garden November 2005, Photo by Simon Watson

One might think at first glance that this stair is in an old English Tudor home in England. But It is actually in East Hampton Long Island. Elizabeth Brockman converted a Playhouse built in 1916, empty for a decade, into one of the most wonderfully "authentic" Tudors I have seen. With her keen eye for detail, she has collected architectural details to refurbish the home, one of which is this amazing spiral staircase. She happened upon it as it was being unloaded onto a pier. Another serendipitous moment.

House and Garden October 2007, Photo by Simon Watson

This Staircase is in the Galatasaray, Istanbul home belonging to Furniture and Interior Designers, Asli Tunca and husband Carl Vercauteren. Small wonder that they would create such a breathtaking space.

House and Garden March 2004, Photo by Thomas Loof

The simple white walls create the perfect backdrop for this striking modern stair created by Architect Lee Skolnick and Decorator Sharon Simonaire for a vacation home in the Hamptons. The wood railing looks like it is being supported by an iron Jacob's Ladder.

House and Garden September 2006, Photo by Francois Dishinger

This amazing lattice staircase is owned by Phillips Hathaway and graces the front hall of his shop/home (yes, both!), Ragamont House Antiques in Salisbury, Connecticut. Everything in the home is for sale. It might be a bit difficult to let some of these treasures go!

In Style October 2008, Photo byFrancois Halard

If you haven't seen the home of Christian Louboutin in the September issue of In Style magazine, then you are missing something special. There are pictures of the whole amazing French chateau. But since I am discussing stairs, I thought you might like a little glimpse of his front hall. He has lived in the home with business partner Bruno Chamberlain for 20 years. The Estate has been in and out of the Chamberlain family since the Middle Ages. Really a story that you should go out of your way to read.

Elle Decor April 2006, Photo by Simon Upton

American furniture designer Todd Hase and his wife Amy have created a bit of a furniture empire. And to enjoy the fruits of their labor, they acquired a chateau in the French countryside. I love the seemingly simple stair railing, a painted Louis XVIII wood banister. If you look more closely, you cannot fail to appreciate the way the columns have been precisely carved gradually changing proportion as they go up the stair. Beautiful.

House Beautiful, July 1994, Photo by Jeff McNamara

This home built by McKim, Mead and White in 1882, sports a beautiful screen between the living room and stair . Described as a Japanese influenced Aesthetic Movement screen, it was a style commonly used by the architects early in their careers. When the home was purchased by Dick Cavett and Carrie Nye, the screen was hidden away behind wallboard until it was discovered by Nye. And thank goodness! With it's intricate lathe-turned lattice work, it is one of the most stunning details in the home.

House Beautiful May 2006, Photo by Tim Street-Porter

This stair looks like liquid butterscotch spiraling down from three stories high. This house, interior design by Steven Schubel, is located in Marin County California, but could just as easily be from Morocco. The stair was made by Olivier Garnier of Stucco D'Olivetti of San Francisco.

House and Garden February 2007, Photo by Simon Upton

Just a classically beautiful limestone stair with a subtly painted iron banister. The zebra design runner is from Patterson, Flynn and Martin. Interior Design by Michael Simon. Who would think this was a house built in the 60's in Florida?

House and Garden January 2001, Photo by Melanie Acevedo

This home, owned by Bruno Eugene Borie, owner of Lillet, is an 18th century town hose in Bordeaux. Originally built for a wealthy merchant, it was subsequently divided into separate flats in the 19th century, before becoming a private residence once again. What I found so interesting about this stair, is that it on the exterior of the house on a central courtyard, and one must go outside to get from one floor to the next. Sort of romantic I think!

House and Garden July 2007, Photo by Eric Cahan

Even the simplest of stairs can have a story, create a focal, point, or a mood. I love these stairs, from the Maine beach house of the family of Patricia Lansing,( fashion editor for Vanity Fair and Daughter of Carolina Herrera) and her husband Gerrit. Pristine and white, beautiful in their simplicity.

House and Garden June 2003, Photo by Matthias Petrus Schaller

And then we have the "over the top" and stunning stair designed by William Diamond and Anthony Baratta. The floors were hand stenciled by the Diane Warner Studio. The runner is from the Diamond and Baratta Collection by Stark. And yes, you have probably guessed that the hand-painted wallpaper is from Gracie Inc. The stair railings are original to the house, a 19th century East Side New York town house.

Elle Decor February March 2004, Photo by Pieter Estersohn

This very contemporary stair is not without it's own exquisite details. Notice the steel and fluted glass screen standing 16 feet high dividing the stair from the kitchen, inspired by the "industrial windows in the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Berkeley" says owner James Mohn, architect.

Elle Decor October 2007, Photo by William Waldron

I wanted to show this amazing staircase and ceiling because of it's very interesting history. It is the apartment of Valesca Guerrand-Hermes which is found in the Hotel des Artistes, a "Gothic-style enclave on Manhattan's Upper West Side" built in 1917. The owner has turned the stairwell into a gallery and the ceiling is original. Guerrand-Hermes says "Hotel des Artistes is an extravagant place, designed for people who want to be different." I'll take that "different"! Simply stunning.

I am leaving you with the amazing staircase at the Palazzo Reale in Naples, designed by Dominico Fontana circa 1600. For more original photos and information, please check out the brilliant blog, Architect Design. You will not be sorry!