Country staircases

From updating and repair to a beautiful new staircase altogether, your questions answered

Is it possible to refurbish and update a staircase rather than replace it?
‘If your existing staircase is structurally sound you can overhaul it,’ says Simon Meyrick, Designer, Neville Johnson. ‘Refurbishing is less costly and less disruptive than replacing the whole staircase. Since there’s no structural building work and in many cases no redecoration involved, renovation usually only takes one to two days. Each design is bespoke and can include re-cladding treads and risers and replacing spindles, newel posts and handrails in wood, glass or wrought iron.’

I’d like to replace the broken spindles and worn-out handrail on our staircase.
Is it difficult?

‘Upgrading your stair parts is fairly straightforward and replacing broken spindles is essential for safety,’ says Zoe Lewis, Product Group Manager, Richard Burbidge. ‘Features such as pre-drilled handrails and pre-cut spindles will speed up the installation process, but remember to ensure that any stair replacements reflect the character of your home.’

Will a statement look suit a country home?
‘A contemporary cantilevered staircase, when skilfully designed, looks stunning in a country home,’ says Richard McLane, Managing Director, Bisca. ‘English Oak, with its figured grain, is a popular choice for country properties, while treads and handrails can be aged using different treatments, to the point where they blend beautifully with old timber. Alternatively, why not consider a tactile, leather-clad handrail (above) for a softer, modern look?’

How can I use the space under the stairs?
‘Take the opportunity to fit out a dedicated space for storing coats, shoes and bags,’ says Sherry Wales, Designer, James Mayor Furniture. ‘Bespoke fittings make the most of the awkward shape and extra depth while a combination of cupboards fitted with hanging rails above and shoe drawers below provides easy access. Add baskets under the hanging rails for hats, gloves and dog leads and fit shelves at the lower end for school and sports bags. Paint the cupboards the same colour as the woodwork or walls for an elegant, seamless look.’

Any ideas on how to get light into my dark hallway?
‘An effective way to channel light is to introduce glass risers into the staircase,’ says Tom Garret, Head of Design, Broadleaf. ‘It’s done using toughened or laminated glass, which slots into the oak treads. For ease of maintenance, make the top risers oak and balance in the same way at the base. This combination stretches the budget as structural glass is expensive, but it transforms a simple staircase into an impressive feature.’

Do striped runners work well on staircases with a turn?
‘Stripes look eye-catching on a staircase and create a welcoming first impression,’ says designer Roger Oates.
‘For straight stairs you can choose a striped Wilton or flatweave
runner, but for stairs with a turn, a flatweave is more flexible in
allowing the stripes to align around the turn – this is a job for a
skilled fitter. For a turn of more than three treads, diagonal seams
known as mitre joins can be used so the stripes join and neatly follow
the direction of the turn.’

Can you help me locate made-to-measure stair rods?
‘Our stair rods are handcrafted in our Suffolk workshop,’ says Sheena Lawrence, Managing Director, Jim Lawrence. ‘They can be made to any length and the solid steel ones can be bent to fit a curved staircase. Traditionally, stair rods were the primary way of fixing carpet to a staircase, but now they’re decorative and carpet and runners should be fitted with underlay and carpet fixings. The rod is fixed in place using a bracket and a spacer may be required along with the bracket if your carpet is particularly thick.’

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