A well-placed curving stairway opened up the interior of an 1805 Washington, D.C., town house, blending function and aesthetics to win remodeler Kelly Vogan a Grand CotY award from his local NARI chapter.

Countless haphazard remodels during its 198 years left the house with an underused window bay and a cluttered interior crowded by the original stairs.

To clean out and modernize the interior, Vogan removed the first two flights of stairs and installed a spiral staircase in the bay. Removing the stairs from the first floor entryway "improved the flow and made the foyer more dramatic," Vogan says. Extracting the second flight also had a practical benefit, clearing space for a laundry room.

Douglas Rixey, of Rixey-Rixey Architects, Washington, D.C., designed the project.

Hoachlander Davis Photography

"The bay window was a natural place to put the stairs," Rixey says. "It had never been captured as a usable part of the house," and it offered a rare opportunity to create "a curving stair that floats in a shaft of space." Vogan says it was lead carpenter Tom Stine's idea to lower the stairway in through the roof with a crane. After planning for months, Vogan and his crew completed the installation in less than three hours. --D.Z.