Glass is a material that holds a huge amount of visual appeal.
It is also a material that in spite of its supposed fragility, has been pushing the boundaries of interior design. In recent years, it has gone from being a merely decorative material to be amazingly functional.
Staircases were once the wooden run of treads that sat forlornly in the corner. Mainly forgotten when it came to pushing the limits of interior architecture, anything other than the ordinary was not on the cards.
But, as the use of glass developed in so many different ways, so did the development and use of the components needed to provide strength and structure.
As the choice of balustrade components increased, architects, designers and homeowners realised that glass was now a material that has many possibilities.
The glass staircase, the stuff of fairy tales
Architects, designers and some home owners are pioneers of pushing boundaries. They enjoy seeing what can be created using the most audacious plans, as well as the most unlikely of materials.
Who thought that glass, fragile and delicate in so many other applications, could be so tough and robust without losing a shred of its elegance in a staircase?
But this is exactly what was created. The most iconic glass staircase must surely be that in the Apple Store in New York.
Industrial applications of glass staircases continued but when the interior designer, the architects and the homeowner realised that this example of the most decadent looking staircase could be repeated in their homes, the silent revolution began.
Functional with attitude
In most homes, when the front door is opened the most obvious item to note tends to be the staircase. Depending on the space available, they tend to be straight in the run of treads. And nothing more.
But imagine creating something that was majestic, breath-taking without compromising on function nor form?
This is exactly what can be created with a glass staircase, along with minimalist balustrades and handrails. The mix of materials can be endless as glass can match, compliment and contrasts with all kinds of materials, from the lightness of beech and other woods, to the polished glint of metal.
Top trend in glass staircases
The key trend that stays with glass staircases is the minimalist nature of them. The very nature of glass, even when toughened and tempered, is that it remains looking fragile and delicate, even when this is clearly not the case.
Adding strength means adding layers in the case of glass but this has not meant that they have become bulky or monstrous in size. Some designers have created staircases that are truly minimalist but, if you are unsure about the safety of not having a balustrade or handrail, there are frameless systems that can now be used to provide a barrier, without the clutter.
An emerging trend is using light throughout the staircase. The translucent nature of glass is well known, as is its properties for being able to bounce light around in a space. Recently, however, there has been a move to add lighting to the staircase itself, with beautiful results.
Glass treads have been mounted above a podium with light in the base, casting a warm glow of light up through the twisting funnel of glass treads. Other designers have included lighting in the wall, casting a glow along the surface of the tread.
The key to creating this effect is to use LED lighting, with low luminosity. Also, choose colours that complement the rest of the décor too.
Like glass, concrete is not a new material, having been used in construction for centuries but in terms of creating interior aspects such as worktops and staircases, it is still relatively new.
Concrete can be polished to a high shine, as well as given a chemical treatment to make it take on the hue of more expensive materials, such as marble. Interior designers and architects have been begun using concrete as part of staircase design and recent designs have included teaming minimalist glass with the impressive bulk of polished concrete.
Glass staircases – a component for every household or the chosen few?
You may shy away from the possibility of a glass staircase is your home for many reasons. You may consider the cost a barrier, or you may feel that it will be too much of a showcase and not the right material for a family home.
However, glass has shown that it has benefits, many abilities and is perfect in so many setting, not just those properties that are considered show homes. Easy to clean, no maintenance, functional and stunning every day of the year – what more can you look for in a staircase?