By Shalini Misra
The staircase is principally a transitional space, a means of getting from one floor to another. Yet too often when we design our homes, we see the rooms as destinations and disregard the importance of the journey.
I believe the staircase is fundamental to the character of the home. A room will typically have four corners and a uniform ceiling height. The staircase is much more versatile, allowing us to play with volume, height and depth in a way that can bring interior architecture to life and dictate the mood of a home.
Here, I use the examples of the two wonderful staircases in this eight-bedroom home in Cannes — on the market for €60mn — to show how you can create a sense of a journey with your staircase.
Encourage moments of reflection
It can be difficult to find moments to pause and reflect in our busy lives. For the smaller staircase, I would install artwork on the walls that would encourage contemplation — something with bright colours or mixed media that will seem to change depending on the quality of light or viewing angle. This piece by Maria Hatling, for example, combines colours, shapes and styles.
Consider light sources
Natural light can create a relationship between the interior and exterior that can never be truly recreated with artificial lighting. Yet often the stairs in a home are located in places that don’t allow for windows. For spiral staircases, a long drop chandelier like this by Marc Wood Studio can unite the volumes, particularly as you ascend. I like to keep the walls clear for art and rather than large statement lighting, consider installing low level lighting that illuminates each step. Not only does this make practical sense in dimly lit areas, it also introduces a sense of drama to the staircase.
Use space wisely
The stairs can be used for storage, which can be beautiful. I have created bookshelves that run along staircases in a number of projects, some of which have scaled several floors and acted as full libraries.
These freestanding shelves by Nada Debbs are exquisitely detailed and would be equally wonderful whether stacked with books or left empty on the smaller staircase in the house here.
Think about wellbeing
I believe that we should take whatever opportunity we can to create healthy living spaces. The larger staircase in the Cannes property is a good example of how you can bring nature into the home, with large potted plants placed on the stairs. A simple way to emulate this would be to include oxygenating plants on shelves running up your staircase, such as the inexpensive pothos or Devil’s Ivy. They are easily found on sites such as Patch Plants.
Don’t forget the stairs
A stair runner is an often-overlooked way of setting mood and creating character. It is important to consider how a staircase is used, by whom and with what frequency, as this will dictate which material to use.
Both staircases in this property would benefit from the addition of runners. The large staircase in particular represents an opportunity to install something impactful and eye-catching. This runner by Atelier Bowy C.D. would transform the staircase into a statement and make a real difference to the mood of the space.
Photography: Bénédicte Drummond; Knight Frank; © Maria Hatling 2022; Mansour Dib