Staircase Design Process: How To Achieve An Inspirational Staircase

How To Achieve An Inspirational Staircase

The staircase design process takes many forms; at Bisca we are proud to be leaders within this field and so in our latest blog have provided some guidance on the top factors for consideration, when planning a new staircase within your home.

Typically placed within the heart of your home and often one of the most memorable features, your staircase is used and enjoyed daily; and if designed well, will play a strong role in characterising the interior of your home and the way you move around it.

People spend small fortunes on their kitchens and bathrooms, which are often out of view and have a limited lifespan of around ten years.  Staircases are another matter; a feature staircase is usually the first thing you see when you enter a property and will add an instant ‘wow’ factor

Explains Richard McLane, founder and design director at Bisca.

By consulting with a staircase specialist, all options will be considered – from it’s functionality; layout; and style; to the materials used; its safety and associated regulations; timeframes involved; and costs. Consulting a staircase specialist is the only way to fully understand what is possible within the parameters of your project. Here is some guidance on what is involved in the staircase design process:

A specialist staircase designer will always begin the process with understanding its function; so what is it there to achieve and how can it enhance the space and character of your home. At Bisca we start by establishing the full potential and opportunities available for your new staircase. Regardless of budget, how it looks and what type of property it is going into, there are some fairly standard points to think about when considering which route you are going to take.

At Bisca we would look at the staircase’s direction and flow within the home; how you move around the house; how the building has been constructed; the most efficient way of using the surrounding space; how the natural light can be optimised; and which materials would most closely complement the period and interior of the property.

By commissioning a whole new staircase, you will most likely get the result you dreamed of and the benefits will be enjoyed for many years – whilst an alternative is a staircase refurbishment which can make a positive difference if done properly.

Once the way the space will be used has been determined, our designers would start to develop the staircase layout. The space should be considered as a whole – not just the hallway or the room it will be situated in. The staircase will connect two or more floors and often several rooms, so looking at the space three dimensionally is crucial to ensuring all areas of the property work together and visual impact is created from all aspects.

The staircase layout and proportion should be designed in relation to the space you have available. The last thing you want is to walk through your front door and trip over the bottom step!

Adds Richard McLane

A new staircase can completely transform the centre of your home, not just in the way it looks but also the way the space is used. Reassessing the available area and rearranging the layout can improve the sense of light and flow of movement within a home.

Changing the direction of traffic to work around entrances to other rooms, or improving the comfort of using the stairs and opening out bottom treads to ease the transition from floor to stair, may also be worthwhile considering.

For a large lobby or hall area, there is a choice between having the staircase as a central feature, or if you prefer to keep the space open; a layout alongside or close to a wall may be preferable. If there is an open-plan configuration, remember the staircase is on view from other areas of the property and so its perspective needs to be considered from all angles.

Today the trend is to have a cohesive decorating style throughout the whole house. A bespoke staircase will be more empathetic to the property it is designed for, with 60% of the staircase design process at Bisca being about the structure and materials, whilst 40% is about how it interfaces with its surroundings.

When thinking about style, the age of your property, along with its interior and character is a consideration. Although if skillfully designed, it’s possible to achieve stunning results when mixing for example, contemporary with period features. It just depends on what you are wanting to achieve.

The space may suit a helical or winder, a spiral or a straight staircase; each configuration has its own set of pros and cons, and Bisca can show you different options and explain the benefits of each. View our staircase portfolio for some staircase inspiration.

The measure of a great staircase is one that fits its environment and completely integrates into the character of the property, regardless of period…

Richard McLane, Bisca

Once a suitable layout and style has been defined in the staircase design process, it’s time to start thinking about the materials in more detail. Many staircase specialists are restricted by the products they can work with, however at Bisca our breadth of experience drives our creativity and makes anything possible.

Read here what we promise every customer.

The clever part about staircase design, is having the ability and insight to incorporate both traditional and contemporary materials into a commission that will stand the test of time, and offer unconditional enjoyment. The materials and the role they play in the design must be carefully considered; for example timber treads have different support requirements to stone treads. Glass balustrades and forged uprights each hold their individual aesthetic appeal, but can also perform a structural function within the staircase if needed.

Each Bisca staircase is totally bespoke, designed and crafted completely from scratch in the company’s North Yorkshire workshop, with all materials being individually sourced on a project-by-project basis. Providing it is suitable for use in staircases, almost any material can be specified. For a recent project, Bisca utilised recycled Vodka oak barrels to create a rustic cantilever. View this project.

It’s sometimes presumed that the staircase balustrade is only a small part of the staircase design process. The design and materials used for the balustrade however have the strongest influence on the style of staircase we achieve.

Hand-forged uprights are popular with period properties, especially given the range of shapes and finishes that are available with this option. You may want to select a material that brings a contemporary twist; increases the sense of space; or maximises the flow of light – glass balustrades are high on the wish list when these preferences are expressed. Handrails can be anything from stitched leather to solid wood, metal, bronze or much more.

As part of the staircase balustrade design, at Bisca we would also consider newel posts and feature treads which can improve both the aesthetic appeal, comfort and movement on to the staircase from it’s surrounding space.  

There are building regulations and guidance to consider throughout the entire staircase design phase. We would advise that a survey is initially carried out to ensure that the structure of the property will sufficiently support the staircase you want to achieve.

View information on industry standards.

A common aspect of safety often discussed with our clients, is that which relates to open staircase treads. These offer a great way to let light travel around the surrounding area of your home and if built correctly are completely safe. UK regulations state no part of a staircase or balustrade must have gaps of more than 100mm.

Another common topic of safety is the suitability of an open staircase for homes with children. Read our blog to find out more

If you’re looking to gather some advice from a staircase specialist, it is worth getting them involved as early in the process as possible. This will avoid any unwanted surprises and will allow you to get some realistic layout ideas and outline of accurate costs early on in your project. Timeframes will vary depending on the complexity of the design and the scale of the project, but as a benchmark, the staircase design process will take a minimum of 12 weeks.

At Bisca, our process starts with the development of a concept design service – which provides layout schematic, sketched visuals, samples and an estimated cost, based on the design and the materials of your choice.

Bisca’s project process 

Staircases are like cars, you can spend £20K or £200K to get you from A to B, depending on the make, model and specification. The budget available will influence how ‘blue-sky’ your staircase designer can go with creativity and material options/choices.

Making changes in material specifications won’t necessarily bring large increases or decreases in the overall price. If you have your heart set on a bespoke staircase, it’s always worth speaking to a specialist while allocating a budget for the staircase element. Your budget will define what type of staircase you can have. Whatever the materials chosen, the staircase still needs to be designed, crafted and installed.

At Bisca we aspire to work with every client to meet their bespoke expectations and take great pride in fulfilling your precise needs with care and attention.

If there is anything you don’t understand about a quotation, we would advise you to ask and ask again, until you are clear on what is included for your money – and more importantly, how it will look.  Get in touch to get a quote or discuss your staircase project. 

To discuss any aspect of your staircase design project, please contact one of our experts today:

Call: 01439 771 702  ∣  Email:

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