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New stairs. Which design should I choose?

14 April 2020

In NZ our dreams of the perfect stairway often revolve around our favourite styles – from pared-down minimalist to sumptuously traditional and everything in between. But whether your stair is for a new home or a renovation, don’t get starry-eyed about your ultimate choice until you’ve assessed the space at your disposal. Here are the 7 basic stair designs.

1: Straight stairs

A single flight of stairs connecting 2 levels of a building is about as basic as a stairway can get. Built with no landings or curves, the straight line design is an economical choice.

However, a straight staircase is not necessarily second best. Its simple lines have their own appeal - making it a top choice for modern and contemporary designs.
The right combination of quality construction and interesting materials makes this layout a winner.

Railings and handrails are easy to install – another great way to customise your straight stair.

The main disadvantage for a straight stair?

It takes greater linear space, so might not be workable in a small house.

2: L-shaped stairs

L-shaped stairways have a landing with a right-angled turn. This layout is popular for several reasons.

  • Less footprint than a straight staircase
  • It can be installed in the corner of a room
  • Landings are a great place to showcase your special ornaments, pictures or photographs.
  • The turn doesn’t have to be in the middle, so can be put closer to the bottom or top to suit your style or design.

3: U-shaped stairs

The 180° turn of this layout allows it to have an even smaller footprint than an L-shaped stair, making it a prime candidate for small houses where it can even be tucked into a corner.

The switch-back design is fun to work with and is often the kick-off for a stunning architectural statement.

4: Winder stairs

Winder stairs make their turns without including a landing or platform.

They’re very useful for fitting into tight spaces and are quite user-friendly – in fact they can be used instead of a spiral staircase without increasing the footprint.

Although often used as back stairs in older houses where the grand staircase is at the entry, their compact layout and graceful curves have made them a favourite in contemporary homes.

5: Spiral Stairs

Apart from a fireman’s ladder, you can’t get much more compact than this!

Centred around a single pole, a spiral staircase is easy to install and pleasing to the eye. But beware, this layout is not for the old or handicapped, the very young or the clumsy!

However, a well-designed spiral staircase can be an amazing feature, and still be safe.

6: Curved Stairs

Our brains crave symmetry – perhaps this is why a curved layout designed around a helical arc is so pleasing to our eyes and minds. Based around a wider radius, and usually not making a full circle, the gentle contour invites exploration. The large radius also makes them easy and comfortable to walk on.

Curved stairs add elegance to home entry ways and business reception areas and work well with both traditional and contemporary architecture.

It’s not surprising that these stairs are a great investment. The engineering, craft and skill that goes into them will continue to make a statement for years to come.

7: Split staircase

For a grand entrance, the split staircase layout receives guests with courtly aplomb.
Originally the domain of older traditional mansions, this design can be adapted to work very well in contemporary architecture.

Image from

At Stylecraft we have the expertise to turn your dreams into reality.
These layouts are just a start – use them to showcase the style you love or browse our gallery for more ideas.

Contact us by email or phone 0800 896 500 for a consultation.


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