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6 Tips to a Modern Staircase Design

by Nisha MacNeil, Design Manager

When you are looking at redoing your staircase in a modern style, use these 6 tips below to get the right look.

1. Treads and risers
To create a simple and clean look you typically see these done in the same material for tread and riser. You can also remove the nosing, built-up edge detail, and simply angle the top of the stair tread down to the crutch of the lower stair tread for a super sleek look. I also love the look of a floating tread where there is no riser. In this case, you need to do very chunky treads, around 3” thick to complete the look.

2. Balusters
In modern design, you need to keep things simple so you typically do not see balusters, but what you may see are sheets of glass. This gives a very clean modern look. When you may have seen horizontal balusters, these are in fact not to code as they are deemed ‘climbable’. They can not be installed on a permitted project which will be inspected by a city official. There are ways around this like installing glass or plexiglass against the horizontal elements to passcode.

3. Handrail
The best look here is a simple rectangle. Be sure to check your local code, but typically 2.5” wide is good as it needs to be ‘graspable’. Also note that you need about 1.5” of space between a wall or object and the handrail to allow your hand to pass. I love the look of incorporating lighting into the handrail, but routering out the underside and installing an LED strip lighting you create an ethereal look.

4. Newel post
This is the large post at the base of the stairs. In a modern design, you would typically not have this as it’s a far more traditional item. Typically, you see a floating handrail on the wall, or the handrail sometimes turns and goes vertical to the floor for a seamless look.

5. Stringers
This is again a more traditional item, so you won’t typically see a stringer against the wall in a modern design. But you can have fun and play with the center structural stringer and expose it and do this in steel for a very modern industrial look.

6. Lighting
Hidden LED lighting really creates a modern look as well as being a good safety measure for the dark trips up the stairs at night. You can hide them under the nosing to they wash down the riser of the stair, or in the side stringers or as mentioned above in the underside of the handrail. I like it best when the actual light is hidden from view and all you see is the wash of light it creates.

Keep these 6 elements and tips in mind when designing your new modern staircase and you won’t go wrong!

If you would like to find out more about our designers, check out the Kerr Design Studio.

We also offer a free, no-obligation consultation to go over your project and give you a workable plan whether you use us or not. 

To arrange a consultation, call us at 604-263-0343 or use our online form.

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