Often, when we are working on a job, the opportunity to “get creative” comes along!
We’ve always considered ourselves to be problem solvers — you need to be when you’re restoring or renovating old buildings — and stairways always present a challenge!
Here are some stories on how we applied some creativity and recycling savvy to some of the projects we’ve recently been involved with.
Mid-Century Modern — Outside Goes Inside
While we were busy updating a mid-century modern house in the country, working with the architect’s plans, we faced a dilemma. The house had originally featured heavy, laminated beams, which ran across the width of the house and projected about four feet on the front exterior. The renovation plan called for these to be cut back so they no longer protruded. This leftover a dozen four-foot sections of the beautifully laminated beam with no further use.
I couldn’t discard valuable material like that, no way. But that said, what was I going to do with all that wood?
One morning, as I sat having breakfast with my son, Conor, I was getting a ribbing about my habit of saving wood. Conor said, “So what’s your big idea for those laminated beams we cut the other day?” And that’s when it occurred to me — we were going to need to build a new interior stair in the mid-century modern house so I said, “Let’s make the stair treads out of them.”
And that’s what we did, and the effect, I must say, is stunning! Our client agrees!
Eclectic Office — Waste Not, Want Not
During the construction in the building where the “eclectic” law office we recently completed is located, there was a lot of good material that we had to remove. As you may know, I just hate to waste good material!
From another job we were doing nearby, there were a lot of good, full measure 2 x 8’s going on the scrap pile as walls and floors had to be relocated or rebuilt. Also in my possession were some nice steel beams and tubing. Over at the building supply yard, we had a huge pile of old Douglas Fir beams, some of which had old metal brackets attached from their original use as structural members in an old warehouse.
To make a long story short, the law office was going to need a custom stair to fit a specific space, and all of this material was combined to make a beautiful stair you won’t believe!
My son, Conor did the welding and we’re very proud of this work!
The Old Schoolhouse Has Its Ups and Downs
Apparently, a lot of century-old schoolhouses had completely separate entrances for boys and girls. The one we renovated a few years back also had separate interior staircases leading down to the basement.
The new design called for only one stair and it was our job to build it! As usual, in a total renovation job like this, there was a lot of material to be torn out — much of it was good, vintage wood — the kind you can’t get any more. Naturally, I could not waste it.
I’m proud to say, we were able to build a whole new stair using this wood that has a great “vintage” look and we saved the client the cost of having to buy new material that probably would not have been as good as the old stuff — and not as nice looking either!
Hope you enjoyed these “Stair Stories”! Rob
Top: The stairway in Port Hope’s “Eclectic Law Office”
Above: A view of the stair in the updated Mid-Century Modern house.
Below: A new stair in the old schoolhouse.