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Interior railings: Staircase jewelry

The railing next to the staircase is part of the whole, part of the interior design. Wood, metal, glass are the most common materials from which it is made. Sometimes we also see something less common, such as ropes, textiles or some innovative combination of the mentioned materials. The fence is not only important from a security point of view, but also from an aesthetic and architectural point of view.

"In the history of architecture, the design of a staircase is of great importance to both the architect and the user, not only as an aesthetic and spatial component, but also as its symbolic value. The staircase is a symbol of connection and openness, and especially as a functional element it enables the passage between floors," says architect Gašper Demšar from the Demšar arhitekti office, adding that stairs are also a place to stay, for example the Spanish Steps in Rome or the wide staircases in front of Greek sanctuaries.

Functionality and security first

According to him, the first question when designing a railing next to a staircase is a question of functionality and safety. "The design of the fence follows the context of the design of the entire interior, so I always make sure that the fence is in harmony with the whole. As I usually design stairs as a central part of the room and do not hide them, the stairs themselves are an emphasized architectural element with their position and configuration," says the architect, who usually strives for as light and transparent a design as possible, so that the stairs "breathe". For him, the staircase is not only communication, it can also be a place of attraction in the house, when it is part of the living space, into which it is open, and, for example, children not only stay on it, but also play and observe what is happening in the house from it.

"The fence is an integral part of the interior, which reflects the spirit of the house and the wishes of the clients. When planning, I always consider who the user will be," explains the designer interior design Lidija Rutar from the architecture bureau Habitare. If it is a family with small children, it is necessary to make sure that the fence is completely safe, without any openings through which the child could climb. A handrail is very important for elderly people, because otherwise walking up the stairs would be difficult. If the fence is on the gallery, it is good that it is at least apparently transparent and allows a view of the rest of the premises. Transparent fences give the feeling of a larger space, says the interlocutor about what influences the decision, what kind of fence will be next to the internal staircase of the house she is designing.

Selection and combinations of materials

What the staircase and the railing on it will be depends in particular on the house and its design. According to Rutarjeva, she sometimes combines metal and wire, she especially likes the latter as a material. A glass fence with a wooden handle is also beautiful, it can also be glass with a metal handle, only wooden, or not at all. In children's rooms with a gallery, a fence made of durable textile mesh can be used.

When choosing materials, including all materials in the apartment, says the interlocutor, proportions are important: "That's why I always make sure that there is not too much either glass, metal or wood, because then everything is too monotonous. I also pay attention to how the sound behaves in the room." If there are ceramic tiles or stone on the floor, but there are no sound-absorbing materials, the glass fence can be the reason the room reverberates, according to her.

According to Rutarjeva, the glass fence is generally suitable for almost all types of rooms. Without a holder and profiles that are hidden in the floor or wall, it does not interfere with the space and acts as if nothing is there. In the case of possible weaknesses, the interlocutor first thinks of fingerprints, which are visible on the glass and must be cleaned several times. "If the glass surface is too large, the sound will be reflected, so the feeling in the room will not be pleasant," is another negative feature. Can the glass break? “It's hard to break when it's thick enough. Two surfaces of tempered glass are used, which are glued together. Even with a strong impact, the fence does not fall to the ground, but just cracks and retains its safety function," he answers.

On the other hand, Gašper Demšar prefers to avoid the use of glass for railings, because despite its transparency, he perceives it as a material that separates the staircase and prevents it from "breathing", it is also cold and hard to the touch, and impractical for cleaning. Nevertheless, he sometimes includes it, namely where the design itself dictates it, and he adds a wooden handle to the glass, which is more pleasant and warmer to the touch.


Stairs without railing


Stairs without railings look minimalistic and clean. Of course, when looking at such a staircase, the first thing we ask is how safe it is to walk on it. "If it is a public facility or if the house is intended for renting out and is used by several people, the minimum technical conditions require a suitable fence anyway," explains Rutarjeva. She herself has already designed a staircase without a railing in several houses. "In the stone holiday house, the stairs were partly open, and at the height, a wall acted as a suitable barrier. In a house with a modern design, I designed stairs without a railing, which only led to the mezzanine, and the height was not a problem, and a young couple lived in it," says the interlocutor.

According to Gašper Demšar, staircases can also be without railings, but this solution is suitable in residential buildings only where the stairwell runs between two walls or for staircases that are very wide, and even then on the condition that the user is aware that it is therefore the visual aspect before safety, and pays attention to this in daily use.


Finishing details


As with other equipment, details can also change the image of the stair railing, make it interesting and different. "The wire as a material allows several different forms due to its shape and strength. Perforated metal fences can be very interesting because the play of light creates patterns in the room. The glass fence can be sandblasted, so a graphic or pattern can be applied to it. A fence designed as a net or made of ropes or metal rods is also interesting," Rutarjeva lists just a few of the range of options offered. In the house, where the floor and stairs were covered with wood, which has an extremely warm effect, she wanted to soften the "too much warmth" and introduce some contrast in the materials with a metal fence combined with wire. If, in this case, they decided on a different concept and used wood for the fence as well, according to her, the room would work more classically.

"The staircase railing is like jewelry: it can be designed very minimalistic or very poetic, as we can admire in art deco," says Demšar. At the same time, he mentions another aspect that many people forget, i.e. the lighting of the fence, or the light in the fence itself, which can co-create additional design value. According to him, the lighting enhances the ambiance of the entire staircase together with the railing and gives it additional value, and enriches the user's experience of the space.



Work and Home, March 25, 2015

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