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Creating open plan living without removing walls

Creating open plan living without removing walls

When you think of converting a traditional home to something modern, open plan with flow, the first thing that comes to mind is removing a few walls. It’s a tried and tested method that with a good builder and architect, works a treat. But there’s another way that almost always works and it doesn’t come at the same structural risk as bashing down walls… It’s shifting the staircase.

Before you tell us we’re crazy, think about it. How many times have you thought about renovating and then thought, ‘if only that staircase was just a meter to the left…’. Well if you’re anything like us it’s probably a good few times. So what do you need to know about shifting a staircase?


It can have huge results to the functionality and flow of a home

Moving a staircase can completely open up spaces, bring rooms together and create a much more modern canvas for interior design. At the end of the day, stairs are just pieces of joinery, so you have a real chance to be creative with your design. Think about changing direction, changing location or changing the configuration.


You need to follow the Australian Building Standards and Regulations

  • These means a couple of things that impact the safety of the home hugely…
  • Each flight must not have more than 18 or less than 2 risers
  • The height and depth of stair treads must be consistent throughout each flight of stairs
  • If the stair is higher than 10m or three stories, the treads must be solid (ie. not of mesh or perforated metal)
  • If the stair is an open stair, the riser openings must be less than 125mm
  • The gap between balustrade railings, whether vertical or horizontal, must be less than 125mm.


Our favourite benefit: More space!

Moving a staircase is the best way to reclaim more space in your home. Turn an under-the-stair void into a cellar or a proper storage room by changing the height and angle of the stairs. Put the stairs alongside a wall and completely remove them from the centre of the home. Use the least amount of space possible by creating a spiral or square-circle staircase in the corner of a room and use the small space underneath as a study or reading nook.  


Moving it can be expensive

Because moving the staircase will require a few different people involved it can be expensive. You want to ensure you have a professional builder who can assure you that your new design is compliant with Australian standards. You want to have an architect who can help you dream it all up. You need a carpenter who can do the work and you then need a painter who will paint or finish the balustrades or railings. Add that to materials and it becomes an expensive little job. However, for the benefits in functionality and liveability, we think it’s pretty darn good.


You have to consider whether it will affect your access to the home

Before you decide to go ahead, something that is highly important is to think about whether or not the renovation itself will impact you living in the home. A few days without stairs to the bedroom could become a predicament! So make sure you factor this in before you give the project a green light.


But once you’ve considered those few things, if you think you’re ready to make the change, then we say go for it! Enjoy the design options and enjoy the beautiful flow and spaciousness of the home that awaits you. 

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