In homes whose loft overlooks the great room, stairs transition to eye-catching railings or coordinate with the logwork itself. Custom details turn them into true ‘Stairways to Heaven.’ These traditional straight-run stairs are essentially a leaning ladder, which uses half-log steps and adds a log railing, but only on one side.
Wrought iron, whether plain or fancy, adds a complementary material to the logs and other wood elements, notably the smooth, easy-grip handrails.
Shown at right is a multiple-landing configuration that reinforces the home’s cowboy decor by its appearance and display of a saddle. The balusters add heft.
The stairs above form an elegant spiral and feature railings with twisted, adorned balusters that lighten the mass and extend along the landing to include gracefully curving inserts. The fine detail of the stairs serve as a counterpoint to the rough-hewn log posts.
Glass-enclosed spiral stairs wrap around a tree trunk, which supports the flared treads and circular landings. The homeowner, a veteran woodworker, fashioned the three-story staircase himself. Oversized windows add natural light and views.
Gently curving stairs feature smoothly finished open treads, balusters and railings that enhance the country decor. Curved stairs take up less space than straight-run stairs but are easier to carry furniture up and down than spiral stairs.
Function Enhances Form
Half-log treads feature small rods between them that create a distinctive profile but actually serve a practical purpose: to prevent the family dog’s paws from sliding between the backs of the treads while racing upstairs.
Going All Gnarly
Using trees as they’re found in nature, rather than planing their branches smooth, can result in some fascinating details, such as embellishments to railings featuring twig balusters. These railings are not for sliding down, however.
Twigs form round balusters that stand out in the staircase of a finely crafted Appalachian-style home because the other features are hewn flat, from the wall logs to the stair treads, railings and newel post.
Get Twiggy with It
Unpeeled tree branches intertwine with apparent randomness to form an exotic railing that goes beyond primitive as it spirals to the cozy loft in this modest cabin. The open treads are simply blocks of sturdy wood set into tree branch stringers. Though functional, these stairs serve more as decoration.