In my house I am almost always the first one up. As I walk down the stairs to get my coffee it is comforting to know that in the mid 1800s the builders did their job well. There are no creaks when I step (except from me) and the rise and run of the stair are quite comfortable.

Friends, family and clients I know aren’t always so lucky, especially if their stairs were built in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Those stairs can be so steep that you have to lean back just to stay vertical and to avoid hitting your head. The owners of period homes who face those stairs each morning generally fall into two categories: ‘Love the charm, wouldn’t change a thing’ or ‘can’t stand another day like this, we need a second set of stairs’. I can understand both points of view.

The creation of a beautiful stair requires an eye for design and the discipline to maintain strict compliance with building codes. There are an infinite number of ways to design a successful stair, but you can find just as many ways to miss the mark.

A beautiful stair can be the showpiece of a home. It can set the tone as visitors enter the front door or be a secret passage the attic or the master bedroom. A stair can also be a constant annoyance or even a hazard. The extra time it takes to make a staircase special is always worth it. Even if it is not grand or expensive a well designed stair is special and may be special for generations.