Stepping up in style

Stepping up in style

Forget the clunky concrete staircases that you might have trudged up and down in your youth.

With the shift towards a visually lighter design style as embodied by open risers and floating staircases, today's stairs are a marked departure from the utilitarian ones of the past.

Not only do they give a visual flair to the home, they also allow architects and interior designers to push the boundaries of design.

According to Chan Wai Kin, a partner at architecture consultancy firm Timur Designs, the movement towards such open designs can be attributed to an architectural preference for structures that are "visually light".

He adds: "As architects, we are always ensuring that the structure is designed as part of the architectural expression, and not something that needs to be concealed from sight."

Examples of this would be open risers sitting on steel beams or cantilevered stair treads, which go one step further by concealing the beams.

Among homeowners, the growing popularity of such open staircases can be attributed in part to Singaporeans being more well-travelled and reacting against the more conventional "closed" staircase design of the past, observes Terri Tan of Designworx Interior Consultant, adding that today's designs have the added effect of helping to open up the home to give the illusion of a larger space.

Owing to its visual lightness, steel is often used in the construction of open risers though other materials, such as wood, granite and marble, are popular choices as well.

In instances where budget isn't an issue, there is also the option of using structural glass treads to create a truly stunning floating effect, as illustrated by the Steve Jobs-designed glass staircases in Apple's flagship stores.

A less expensive option would be to install a glass balustrade instead, which also adds to the visual transparency of the staircase.

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