Charm on Many Levels: Exceptional Staircases

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The Decorating Book, 1981Courtesy of Mary Gilliatt

Supreme Interiors muses on the elevating appeal of the staircase

Growing up there was a stark divide between me and the majority of my friends. It was only apparent when I’d go to their house to play or spend the night, and the process of navigating this chasm was excruciating. It’d keep me up at night thinking about how different my life would be if my world looked more like my friends’. Mine wasn’t a class issue, however, or anything to do with religion or the like – my family was solidly middle class, just the same as my friends – the only difference, and to me a huge difference, was that the majority of my friends lived in houses with multiple levels, and therefore a flight of stairs. Some had basements, some a second story, some were split-level with a few stairs up and a few stairs down, but it made no difference to me; to have a staircase in your house meant you had it all. I’m sure this had little to do with facts, or any real evidence that stairs were capable of having such an impact – rather, it had everything to do with that fact that my house didn’t have them. To me, a staircase was as exotic and luxurious as having a private bathroom or an indoor pool. 

I still hold staircases in high regard. Homes that have multiple storeys will forever be better and far more intriguing than those claiming just one level. Not only do stairs offer an opportunity for impactful design, they also help to separate key areas of the house and make for a more compelling living environment. Stairs are also an outlet for structural innovation which helps bridge the architectural gap between engineering and design. And unlike many other interior design and architectural elements which can quickly tire and go out of fashion, a set of thoughtfully placed and well designed stairs rarely look dated – even going back decades. So in honour of the beloved staircase, this week’s gallery offers a flight of the ten best vintage steps from the 1970s through the 1990s. 

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