the stairs reno

the stairs reno

Our stone house doesn’t have normal staircases. For over eighteen months, we’ve had exposed treads and no handrails. A bit like a big version of a stepladder. We have two of these – one going to the upper floor (the more sturdy set of stairs) and one down into The Snug (the less sturdy set of stairs), and both run from the living room. The stairs have been an on-going pre-occupation since we moved in because theyare  a) pretty horrible and b) pretty unsafe. This was what the stairs were like prior us to doing anything at all to the house. And before all of our furniture arrived…

As you can see, precarious, definitely not good looking and not really the finished items. We’ve had a number of quotes for a number of different staircase options, but all were a lot more than we wanted to pay – but, we knew that if only for the safety of us, and visiting family and friends, we had to do something with them.

So, in between everything else we throw at him, we asked our builder to make them safe in the simplest, most cost effective way possible. The treads were all brought forward slightly, giving you a lot more foot-room going up and down, and pine boards were attached to the frames at the back of the treads, meaning that you no longer felt your foot was going to disappear out of the other side on the way up.

These might look no different, but the treads have been moved forward and secured much better, meaning that there is more depth and strength to each one...

These wooden treads might look no different to the previous photo (above), but the treads have been moved forward and secured much better, meaning that there is more depth and strength to each one…

Wooden boards attached to the back of the stairs, so that they are no longer open and exposed, and are beginning to already feel a whole lot safer...

Wooden boards attached to the back of the stairs, so that they are no longer open and exposed, and are beginning to already feel a whole lot safer…

What a difference! No more peek-a-boo through the treads...

What a difference! No more peek-a-boo through the treads…

The next stage of the transformation - navy blue paint...

The next stage of the transformation – navy blue paint…

Painting finished...

Painting finished…

Obviously this is still a work in progress – the stairs down into the cellar haven’t even been started yet (and yes, that blob of paint on the wall will be whited out!) – but we think just doing this has made a huge difference to the living room. A industrial handrail will be fitted on the wall side, with three or four vertical poles (made of the same scaffolding poles) attached to the open side of the staircase. We want to keep the feeling of openess, but with just a little more of a nod to health and safety.

Very glad we didn’t run with the original quotes – the stairs undoubtedly would have been amazing – but a massive chunk of money would have had to have been handed over. Doing what we’ve done, we’ve paid for pine boards and paint, plus our builder’s time. A whole lot less than was quoted. And, we think that we now have stairs which will actually fit into their surroundings, rather than look like dangerous eye-sores.

 

 

 

house reno : stairs

house reno : stairs

Who’d have thought stairs could be so problematic? To be honest, I’ve never really given stairs a lot of thought, because they’re just…there. But our stairs need a lot of thinking about, because they’re pretty unusual. We have one set going upstairs from the living room, and another going down into what will become The Snug, from the living room. They are both open staircases, and I read on a website that these…

provide a sense of freedom, as open stairs do not feature risers, allowing you to look through the staircase enjoying the rest of an interior…

All well and good, BUT when they have been quite poorly installed, and the treads are very narrow, and there is no handrail and the banister at the top of the stairs – to prevent anyone falling – is very rickety, all of a sudden, that “sense of freedom” doesn’t quite seem a selling point.

We’ve looked at having both sets replaced, and maybe it’s a language thing and we keep getting lost in translation but we’re finding it to difficult to get across what we want. And, for some reason, stairs (or the construction of), seem to be prohibitively costly in Istria. We originally had someone out to quote on concrete stairs. My dream, but these must stay as a dream as we wouldn’t be able to afford to eat if we went with his quote.

But, if we are to live a comfortable life and be able to get up and down the stairs with ease – and be sure that our guests will be safe – we need to arrive at a solution. Currently, they are quite awful – half finished, cheap looking and fairly poorly fitted. It’s a job which has been added to the ever-growing list and which we are fairly confident will be shunted down when other projects become more of a priority. In the meantime, we’ll just watch our feet and try not to climb or descend after a drink too many.