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Style Guide for Stairs

A Bensonwood guide to stair design


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Bensonwood custom stairs
Bensonwood custom stairs

Kevin Bittenbender

Woodworking and Millwork

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Kevin Bittenbender

Woodworking and Millwork
Bensonwood stair systems are built with details and features ranging from eye-popping to quiet and sublime. Each stair suits the individual home. Use these ideas to personalize and add style to your home’s staircase and bring pleasure to the practical business of moving between floors.

Passive House

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Bensonwood Stair Systems

From the no-nonsense straight stairs without curves or turns, to spiral and quarter-turned stairs, to more elaborate staircases such as curved and bifurcated, stairs can serve as a focal point and define any home’s style.

Straight Staircase

Straight stairs are the most common form of a staircase. They are the simplest to build and, therefore, most affordable if the details are simple and modest. But a simple, straight stair doesn’t need to be boring. You can create endless variations to this theme by featuring open risers or adding metal cable railings for a more modern look. The straight staircase, with its no-frills simplicity, is perfect for homes that are minimalist in their design. A straight stair could fit between sheetrocked walls as a utilitarian passage, or it could be a stand-alone showpiece in the middle of a great room that celebrates the stair like a piece of furniture.

Classic Bensonwood Lake Home great room

L-Shape | Quarter Turn Staircase

The L-Shape staircase is the second most common type of staircase in Bensonwood homes. The L-shape is a straight staircase with a turn in the middle. L-shaped staircases can provide more visual interest than straight, and the design takes up less space. They can also be positioned in the corner of a room, creating more flexibility in the floor plan. L shaped stairs require extra load support and additional detailing of the handrails. These factors make an L-shaped stair more expensive than a straight stair.

Stonewall Farm stairwell overhead view

U-Shaped | Half-Turn | Switchback Staircase

The U-shaped staircase is a variation of an L-shape; there is a landing in the middle, like the L-shape, but that’s where the stairs take a 180-degree (instead of a 90 degree) turn going in the opposite direction. This design is visually appealing and takes up less floor space than the straight or L-shape stairs. They are relatively easy to fit into a floor plan, but logistically, they can make it difficult to move large pieces of furniture from floor to floor.

Steel stairs in Weston House.

Winder Stairs

If your floor plan is more confined, a winder stair can take advantage of unused space. The stairs wrap or wind around in continuous steps. You’ve probably seen a variation of winders in older homes. These stairs are compact and create visual appeal in a smaller house. They are, however, harder to navigate than L-stairs since the treads in the winder section are not the same width. Because construction is more challenging, they tend to cost more than stairs with straight runs.

Spiral Staircase

This is the perfect staircase for tight spaces. Spiral stairs have one central post with the steps radiating from the center to the top. Note that many city and town codes consider spiral staircases “secondary” stairs, meaning there needs to be another set of stairs to provide access between floors. This is because spiral stairs are narrow and not easy to navigate. Navigation is the major drawback to spiral stairs: generally, only one person can go up or down at a time, and it is difficult to move large furniture up and down. But spiral staircases are visually appealing and fun to add if you need a second set of stairs in your home. They are also relatively easy and less expensive to install than traditional staircases since they typically come as a pre-built kit.

spiral stairs

Circular | Helixed Staircase

A circular staircase is more like a traditional staircase. Wide treads, easily traveled, can accommodate multiple people at once, and a circular path makes this a popular choice for central locations. The best feature of the circular staircase is the feeling of grandeur it adds to a home due to the open line of sight in the center of the stair. Circular stairs are dramatic, elegant, and can become the focal point of a home’s design. Wide open space is needed to accommodate sculptural, circular stairs and they are more expensive than traditional straight stairs.

Curved Staircase

Curved staircases are just as dramatic as the circular staircase, except they are not built as a helix shape. They curve gracefully typically following another curved shape making the floor to floor transition safe and stylish. Curved staircases are usually positioned in the entrance of a home, where they can be seen and appreciated as a design element. They can blend with any home design, from traditional to contemporary. Because they tend to be the most complex to design and build, they are more expensive than other models.

Bifurcated Staircase

This type of staircase is the most majestic of all stair styles. They are usually found in grand old buildings, commercial buildings, and in luxury cruise ships, one of the most famous being the Titanic. The staircase is wide at the bottom with a mid-way landing where the stairs split into narrower stairs to the right and left. A bifurcated staircase can divide into two curved staircases for an even grander and dramatic appearance.

Bensonwood Craftsmanship

Each staircase design can be combined and modified to create your own custom look. Other decisions, such as the species of wood, finish, handrail style, whether to use mixed materials such as wood and metal (a popular option) and more, are all opportunities to define your style. Once you have selected the style you like, your architect can help incorporate the selection so that it complements the overall design of your home.

No matter which staircase you choose, Bensonwood takes pride in excellent craftsmanship, design detailing, high-quality materials and pre-finishing of components. These elements, combined with the benefits of offsite shop construction, guarantee a product that is top quality, designed to specifications, and ready the moment it needs to be installed in your home.

Custom Stairs

Bensonwood Millwork and Woodworking

The style and fabrication of your stairs are limited only by your imagination. Do you have a stairway dream? Give us a call, and we can make it a reality.

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