35 Swoon-Worthy Staircases That Are a Step Above the Rest

35 Swoon-Worthy Staircases That Are a Step Above the Rest

By Samantha Daly
These elegant and elevated staircases take their homes to the next level.

From sinuous ascents crafted out of plywood to perforated metal treads dyed a bright red, these staircases will make you do a double take.

1. A Home Fit for a Science Fiction Writer in Austin, Texas

Like the pavilion holding the public spaces, the structure containing the bedrooms is clad in glass on the interior sides facing the courtyard, allowing a constant connection to the outside. Agustina Rodriguez (with dog Lupe) designed the steel stairs leading from the mezzanine-level home office to the master bedroom below. The stairs were fabricated by Austin-based Steel House MFG.

Set among fields along the south facing coast of Long Island and within a short walk to the ocean, this Hamptons residence is a quiet refuge for a growing family. Architect Bohlin Cywinski Jackson says that "a suspended bridge spans through the double-height space, connecting second story volumes at varying levels and inclining upward and terminating at either end in an open staircase."

An elliptical concrete stair forms the pivot point of each floor of the house, anchoring them to the steep escarpment; the stair also wraps around a lift core that descends, mineshaft-like to link the rest of the house to the garage level.

A spiral staircase provides a prismatic path from floor to floor in this London home. "The staircase is the hub, the soul of the project," designer Ab Rogers says. "It’s meant to be enjoyed." From the ground, the steps start with the cool colors of the earth, then get warmer as they reach up to the sky.

A perforated-metal staircase in Benjamin Moore’s Flame and built-in cabinetry in various shades of blue highlight Fougeron Architecture’s bold reinvention of a narrow row house in Noe Valley for a couple and their daughter. The stairs emphasize the home’s verticality and opens up what had been a low-ceilinged, dark interior.   

Shop the Look
Vitra Toolbox
Designed with the artist in mind, this plastic toolbox keeps all your gadgets handy. It also makes for a great caddy for collecting other doodads that you need on the go, and comes in a range of hues from mint green to vibrant tangerine.
It's always there for you. Lovely throughout the home and easy to lift so you can rearrange your living space whenever you feel like it. Enjoy every moment with all your favorite things close at hand.

House in Tokyo is a minimal residence designed by Ako Nagao + miCo for a couple who required a music studio. The site is located between reinforced concrete mid-to-high-rise apartments and an old wooden housing area. The volume needed to be closed and "inward-looking" for the music studio space, but at the same time spread beyond the site for the couple’s livelihood.

A cylindrical glass staircase with Western red cedar and painted steel mullions dominates the front of the house. The stair treads, along with the floor, are made of recycled spotted gum.

Though they give the appearance of bent plywood, each curved layer of the ribbed corridor was constructed with flat, laminated cutouts, including the rounded hand rail.

New York–based studio Dash Marshall has recently unveiled the total transformation of what is now known as Raft Loft. By creating a sculptural staircase and largely modifying the first floor, the team has successfully connected two units and transformed the dwelling into one refined abode. The stair is partially suspended from the ceiling above, allowing the living space to maintain its usable space and height. 

The architect, EKAR, says that "each floor of the house features different materials, such as wood, stone-texture coated wall, and stone-like tiles. This material combination creates a uniqueness to the facade which still fits into the surrounding context."

In most multistory homes, stairs connect floors. But in the 921-square-foot Coil house, located in a quiet residential neighborhood in Tokyo, they are the floors. Defined by 44 steps of varying depths and widths, Coil is a dynamic swirl of continuously ascending spaces, designed by local architect Akihisa Hirata for Sakura and Ryo Sugiura, a young couple with two children.  

When Melbourne-based studio Biasol was tapped to design the interiors of a cafe in Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan province, the design firm studied the director's singular aesthetic sense, and The Grand Budapest Hotel in particular. The appropriately named Budapest Cafe unfolded into a fantasy-filled escape—much like Anderson's mythical hotel. Stairs lead to a mezzanine level that provides a view from above, while a decorative staircase leading nowhere is a recurring theme, popping up at the end of the long marble bar, integrated into shelving, and above a faux fireplace.

Built in the late 19th century, a former cooperage where barrels were manufactured for a local brewery now holds a bright, contemporary home that is available to rent. Entering the apartment from the street level, guests meet a dramatic, three-story atrium and a feature staircase. A glass balustrade heightens the effect. 

Calling to mind the iconic Barcelona Pavilion, this glass-encased home demonstrates the power of simple geometric forms. A sculptural, white spiral staircase ascends to a mezzanine where a media room, fitness room, and balcony are located. 

Says the architect, James Wagman Architect, "Our client, a sculptor, also required the additional space to accommodate her artwork. A custom helix staircase became the central focus with various upgrades throughout. Special attention was paid to decorative details and finishes to complement her metal sculpture decorating her home." 

Buenos Aires-based Estudio Ramos designs a concrete, wood, and iron stable that houses 44 prized horses and melds with the surrounding plains. Made of exposed cast concrete and local hardwoods, the structure pays homage to three master architects. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s sharp lines are apparent throughout the project, while the walls and a connecting reflecting pool were influenced by Luis Barragán. The interplay between light and concrete is a nod to Tadao Ando. 

The architect's goal was to "Design a new, modern, sustainable and energy efficient home that had the highest level of craft and attention to detail. The house can be easily adapted to the needs of the owner, and it can change in time as the family grows and matures and needs change. [It] was designed to be virtually maintenance free with pre-finished or naturally weathering materials.

Architect Caroline Wilding, then of Denver-based Design Platform, led the renovation. The staircase needed some treads replaced, but "was left as original as possible," she says. Wilding created the chandelier using wires from Color Cord and brackets from Home Depot.

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Fjällräven Kånken Backpack
Meaning arctic fox in Swedish, Fjallraven began 50 years ago in Sweden making a framed backpack design that carried loads comfortably. This innovation helped make the outdoors accessible to a whole new generation of people and launched a movement to protect wild places.
Blu Dot Splash Coat Rack
Who says utility can’t be attractive? This stylish coat rack crafted out of powder-coated steel and solid walnut makes a nice addition to any entryway.

Strand Design, the architect for the project, says that "Laboring over every material and line, this project is the result of rigorous design and planning with the clients. With a constant requirement for precision, the joinery and timing of materials throughout the home create clean, harmonic spaces that carry one throughout the home. Celebrating a truth in materials, white walls highlight the wide variety of finishes including clear timber, sandstone, marble, cork, concrete, and steel."

North Haven, a rocky island in Maine’s Penobscot Bay, is quintessentially New England. As it happens, so is this boat barn–inspired brand of rugged, regional modernism. Bobbie Callahan and Ed Hayes have summered on North Haven for years; Callahan bought a house there in the late 1970s and has been back every year. 

In San Francisco’s Alamo Square, Jensen Architects turns to the past to boldly reinterpret a storied historic home. The striking interior stair was originally designed as a light well to filter light from above deep into the interior space. 

The two-level home displays a modest footprint to the surrounding neighborhood and is laid out on a simple open plan principle with the key day-to-day activity areas of kitchen, living and dining nestled around a dynamic open stair that uses wood verticals to carry the eye upwards to the second floor.  

A Connecticut home with a notable architectural legacy gets an expansive update for a family of six. The white cedar board paneling in the interiors mimics the exterior; the ones inside are bleached for a lighter finish. Unalam and JIG Design Build fabricated the staircase with ash risers on a single stringer, a Gray Organschi hallmark.

On Waiheke Island near Auckland, New Zealand, the Tent House sits among wetlands on a patch of undeveloped land. It captures the back-to-basics simplicity of camping, thanks to architect Chris Tate. Though he originally created the cabin to be a personal retreat/studio, Tate ended up experimenting with the design in order to challenge conventional expectations of what makes an ideal weekend escape. Now available for short-term rental, the one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 753-square-foot home includes a sleeping area on the mezzanine, a fully functional kitchen, an open-plan living area, and a front deck designed to "fan out"—giving the illusion of a shadow cast by the A-frame structure.

Francesco Librizzi's oak-and-steel staircase is as much a sculpture as it is a means of going between floors. The architect built the staircase for the Casa G project as a means to slow the ascent, to create stations that infused the interior with life.

This compact extension at the rear of a suburban house includes a ground-level garage on its street-facing side, a studio guest suite on the first floor, and a roof deck—all of which are designed to be versatile and convertible. The solid brick facade is softened by a roof parapet with a U-shaped curve, a sculptural spiral staircase that links the pool to the roof deck, arched doors, and circular windows. 

FORMstudio designed an acrylic balustrade that winds up the 1,647-square-foot home's five levels. The flooring throughout is white oak. The staircase is about 46 feet tall from top to bottom.  

Residents of this contemporary home in Koriyama, Japan, squeeze out every cubic inch of storage, courtesy of a centuries-old design concept.
In traditional Japanese houses, clever carpenters often combined staircases with storage to maximize living space. This project in Fukushima Prefecture inspired Nihonmatsu-based architect Kotaro Anzai to borrow the approach and create a custom-built kaidan dansu, or staircase cabinet, to connect the living room to the second story of a 1,078-square-foot home.

An interesting feature of the house is the library, which occupies the space surrounding the staircase. "As my parents are of a certain age, it probably would have been better to make the house just one level," architect Paul Cremoux says. But because of the land-usage law, a two-level structure was the only way to create the room his parents needed as well as accommodate his dad’s sizable collection of books. "It was obvious the stairwell would be best suited for the books because of its double height," Paul explains. "Everyone always asks how it’s possible we have only 170 meters," Nina says of reactions to the 1,775-square-foot residence. "Really, it’s just the staircase, the open kitchen space, and the height of the ceilings that add up to make it feel huge." 

Dekleva Gregorič Architects turned a former utility building into a stylish, self-sufficient home with a downstairs living space and bathroom linked to two upstairs bedrooms by a sculptural, custom-designed black iron staircase. The central, welded-iron staircase is the house’s most striking contemporary feature. Beyond it, more large sliding doors conceal extra storage and the home entertainment system.

Designed by Nps Tchoban Voss, the house maximizes views of the surrounding forest. A sculptural white steel spiral staircase with wooden treads connects the two levels. 

In a duplex house located in a small neighborhood north of Tel-Aviv, Israel, resides two families of close friends. The meeting point of the two concrete masses that make up the home is a vertical axis that cuts the horizontal position with a use of a staircase that goes through all levels of the house. These opposites across the horizontal and vertical lines create the architectural conflict and strain.

In Paris, a painter's granddaughter turns a 484-square-foot studio into a minimalist family home that abounds with smart storage and integrated furniture. Japanese tansu stairs boast storage compartments underneath the treads. 

With architect Noah Walker, principal of the Los Angeles–based Walker Workshop Design Build, homeowner Nathan Frankel has created a guesthouse high in a Beverly Hills canyon, featuring a living room that doubles as an 80-seat concert hall. The new volume houses the dining area, which includes stairs to the bedrooms. The table is from Blake Avenue and the walnut chairs are from Room & Board. "You don’t want bright colors to take away from that relationship between the interior and the exterior," Walker says. 

Conceptualized by Canadian designer Anne Sophie Goneau, the elegant, 1,035-square-foot Espace Panet is located on the third floor of a 1910 triplex building in Montreal, Canada. In an awe-inspiring renovation, the compact apartment was transformed into an open, light-filled living space. The challenge of the remodel was to provide division between each function while maximizing space, respecting the original structure, and allowing light to pass between rooms. An interior, custom-made steel staircase with floating treads and a minimal handrail, lead to the roof deck above. 


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