Bold and Natural Meet In a Historic Townhouse

e recently had the pleasure of working on an historic three-story townhouse. As is common with historic homes the layout was unique, in that the dining room sat at the center of the home and was surrounded by a staircase which wrapped around the interior of the house. Though not the most efficient use of space. the layout spoke of a time when splendor and wow factor were put first in designing a home, a luxury many newer houses do not allow for. The client was adamant about keeping the lawn and we were all too happy to oblige The only major change we reconinwnded was updating the staircase. The current staircase was made of warped wood that had seen better days at the turn of the century. It also featured a steel fire escape railing that was simply the wrong fit. Much of the h ousc already incorporated natural design elements so we decided to build off of these while adding our ideas to the mix. With most
staircases, the design focus and cost tend to be on the treads, the horizontal part of the staircase on which you step. However, it was this staircase’s railing that clearly stole the show. Visible from every angle of the house, it was an opportunity to make a bold statement. After testing manydesigns,we proposed building the railing out of sheets of curten steel, a naturally oxidized metal that is rusted to a beautiful and natural patina. The sheets would climb the walls of the house in a spiral. helping frame the dining room, the skylight and serve as an overall design anchor for the house. When presented to the client, their Mill concern was that the steel would dominate too much of the house. making the environment stuffy and subdued rather than airy and natural. Because of this, we decided to create large windows in the staircase featuring flowing steel branches that allowed light and air to move freely The result was pure magic. The staircase was whimsical. uniniposing and incorporated
the house’s abundant natural light. We further balanced any heaviness with a wood-framed. four window skylight at the topof the staircase as well as a hand•blown glaze chandelier in the dining roont Our additions fit perfectly within the historic home, accentuating its unique layout with a nod to modern design. The client was thrilled with the result and this remains one of our favorite projects to date.

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