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A Custom Walnut Stair and Slide Hybrid in Chicago

Published as: 
Chutes & Lattice
In the Windy City, a custom walnut slide offers a playful way for a small family of four to glide down to the basement.
The walnut staircase and slide in a Chicago town house leads from the main level to the basement. To protect people on the ride down, a “crash pad” fashioned from a standard gymnastic mat covers the wall at the slide’s base.

When a Chicago couple approached architect Julie Fisher of fcStudio inc to revive their 4,600-square-foot house, they gave her a virtually blank slate. The only specific element on their wish list? A slide to make traveling from floor to floor a whimsically fun event. Although the finished result is lighthearted, the technically challenging stair-slide hybrid was the most time-consuming element of the renovation. The bespoke solid-walnut staircase, wrapped in an attractive lattice, snakes throughout the four-story dwelling. With contractor Joseph Vitulli of Top Line Construction and fabricator Luc Halupka of HL Stairs, Fisher experimented with different configurations to determine the optimal pitch and slope of the ramp, which leads only from the main floor to the basement. They ultimately decided to build it next to the wall, and slightly higher than the adjacent staircase. “It’s so beautifully integrated, like a piece of furniture,” Fisher says. “The slide doesn’t feel like it’s just applied or like it’s a toy.” After its completion, the chute instantly became a universally loved feature. “Kids are okay when they go down,” Fisher says, “but it’s the adults who fly!”

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