“Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.”
From the outset, one crucial aspect of the design troubled us and as we progressed with our plans it became our white whale. The previous position of the stairway left the house chopped into awkward sections, it was too steep, blocked a window and created difficult basement access. The footprint of the staircase, in comparison to all other rooms within the layout, is minute. What makes repositioning stairs particularly challenging is the effect that it has on every floor of the house. We had to consider the layout of three levels (basement, 1st floor, 2nd floor).
At first glance it would seem that having the stairs pushed out of the way, against an exterior wall, would allow us to maximize the remaining space; however with our house this configuration presented unique issues on all levels. For a house of our vintage, the existing floorpan was very open. In our previous remodeling work, our design work focused heavily on creating more open, flowing layouts.
The original position of the stairs created a main living area that was too large to be truly functional. In addition we knew that we needed to move the stairs away from the wall, to create a natural division to partition space for a first floor half bath. It seemed that each configuration of the stairs that worked on the first floor, had the adverse effect on the layout on the second floor. What’s more is the fact that the basement stairs are most effectively stacked directly underneath, which created a challenge in and of itself.
Moving the stairs slightly away from the wall allowed for a half bath, utility room, better access to the basement, and a functional space on the second floor. Placing the stairs under a main beam for the second floor also added much needed structural support.