BEING NOSY Some design solutions are obvious, others are more subtle. Changing the wood species of the stair nosing at the top of the steps and landing qualifies as a subtle solution that introduces a unique visual aesthetic, but also a measure of safety.
The First Step
For all of us - the you and the old - the most dangerous moment descending the stairs is the first step. Not seeing the stair nosing or tread can be scary, even dangerous. Being able to see all of the floor level changes clearly before entering the stairway dramatically reduces the change of falling down a flight of stairs.
To address this concern, we altered the wood species of the stair nosing to highlight the change in the floor level.
A clear, blonde maple hardwood makes up the floor, and a red oak stair nosing provides a simple, yet obvious delineation between hallway and stairs.
Source of the Solution
It's a solution pulled from my experience as a commercial architect. When designing public buildings, any change in floor level is required to be highlighted by a change in color or texture. The edge of a train platform or the curb at an intersection are prime examples. Rather than painting the nosing safety yellow, we simply altered the wood species to make the new space safer for everyone. Here, the first step in the stair run and at the landing, red oak stair nosing contrasts with the blonde maple tread.
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Design is not always about aesthetics. In fact, I have found that pragmatic, nuts and bolts design solutions can be as impactful as beautiful tile or countertops. Making a home "work" is often about solving less glamorous, real-world concerns, such as safely descending a beautiful new staircase.