Spiral staircases are the epitome of style and sophistication but they are only found in a minority of homes. Will 2014 be the year they make a comeback?
Spiral staircases became a common feature in castles in medieval times, particularly from the 14th century onwards. They were usually made of stone and tended to ascend in a clockwise direction in order to allow soldiers to defend themselves from oncoming marauders, given nearly everyone held their sword in their right hand.
Over time, they became a popular feature in houses and public buildings and with the advent of more modern construction materials, they became a symbol of class and taste, with sleek metallic and wooden stairs replacing the old stone steps.
They also became a viable option in places where space was limited, as a spiral staircase takes up a much smaller surface area than a single flight of stairs, enabling them to be used in a variety of locations. It can also be argued they are safer than straight flights of stairs as they have to be taken at a slower pace and in the rare event of a trip or a slip, there’s less chance going all the way to the bottom. And their biggest plus point is their sheer beauty. There’s something quite wonderful about making your way down from the upper floor and winding your way round a beautiful spiral staircase into the living room.
Spiral stairs are often heralded as a masterpiece of human design, though modern technology has made their construction easier than ever. You can even buy spiral stair construction kits meaning they can be built at home in a short space of time (though the skills of an expert are still recommended). That said, spiral stairs are surprisingly easy to construct when the process is broken down (assuming everything has been precisely measured). A base pole forms the central element of the staircase, then the steps are formed around the pole going all the way to the top. The handrail may seem more complicated but with the advent of easy-to-use flexible handrails, the process is much simpler than you may think.
There is something magical about spiral staircases that gives them an enduring appeal and with the relative ease with which they can be constructed these days, they are suddenly a very viable choice for many people, especially those who need to save space. 2014 really could be the year spiral stairs make a comeback with full force.