Frank Domin

Floating Down

The owners of this house wanted to renovate their basement to use it as a media and family room. Alward Construction, in Berkeley, Calif., had to dig out a portion of the basement to create usable space for the new entertainment area as well as for a guest room and laundry.

Since the clients also wanted access to the space from the front door on the upper level, architecture firm Endres Ware expanded the entry and added a tower to house this striking curved staircase.

“The design of the staircase is stunning,” says Alward Construction president, Keith Alward. “It is attached only at the floor and at the top. It’s made of boxes dovetailed together. It’s a clever design.”

The staircase railing is only on the interior of the curve. The designers chose to use glass to fill in the space between the treads and walls. Alward says it was a challenge to find a craftsperson to build the stair, which required the on-site skills of master builder Vince Boley to remove a tread to fit the staircase into the tower.

Sue Sotera/Baskam-Sotera


Huntington, N.Y., general contracting firm Baskam-Sotera Co. was originally planning steel stairs for this North Shore Long Island beach house. But there was difficulty getting a fabricator who could roll the section needed, so field operations manager Matt Sotera, who created the stair details, chose mahogany to match the decking and created a wood handrail profile that was then used throughout the deck.

The staircase, built off-site by Deer Park Stairbuilding & Millwork Co. and preserved with Cabot Australian Timber Oil, has 21/2-inch–thick stringers created using a 1/4-inch piece of mahogany laminated into a predetermined helical shape.

Sotera installed the stairs, attached the newels, and created laminated mahogany handrails and balusters on-site once the stairs were in place.

Though the stairs appear open, to comply with code, Baskam-Sotera inserted a 3-inch riser coming down from the nose of each tread. This cuts the riser opening to 3 inches yet maintains an open look.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.

More about Cabot
Find products, contact information and articles about Cabot