Case study; Creating a staircase using coloured stainless steel
The design story of a £27.5 million London property
With the purchase of the semi-detached property 54 Bedford Gardens and its adjacent mews house, Jonathan Pirie, Managing Director of Bancroft Heath, a building firm, had something very special in mind for its redesign.
Jonathan wanted to create a unique, high-end, luxurious home aimed at the prime central London market. After lengthy deliberation it was decided to create a single dwelling from the two properties and dig out a vast basement area to connect the two. This provided the space for a large entertaining area to include a swimming pool and media room and also a garage to provide much-needed parking. The excavation of the basement would take sixty weeks and take the programme for the whole project to a nerve-wracking duration of two and a half years.
Aspiring to the perfect colour
Central to the design of the property was the main staircase. Jonathan wanted an impressive design and finish however did not want to use an overtly “show off” material. He wanted a material that conveyed the quality of brass but to be a lot less yellow. He also wanted the staircase to be contemporary but to have a softer look than plain stainless steel. Overall the staircase needed to fit with the overall design which, although highly contemporary, is quite a gentle scheme in natural colours.
Introducing PVD coated coloured stainless steel
Given this “brief” John Desmond produced samples of a selection of colours in PVD coated coloured stainless steel. The colour Almond Gold was ultimately selected, a soft, creamy gold unique to this project and being not as bright as brass and not as “industrial” as stainless steel. This was used with a stained oak handrail and natural stone for the treads and landings.
The interior design concept
Simon Flint of DeSalles Flint interior designers worked extensively with John Desmond in developing the design of the central staircase which is a centrepiece for the property. Simon and his team aimed to create a very flowing, harmonious interior with all elements contributing to an highly understated, natural scheme with the quality of finishes speaking for themselves. Simon says:
“We worked with John Desmond very closely in developing the design which included their providing us with endless sampling and the building of a part-model of the staircase in their workshop which helped all of us take the design forward.”
The on-site process
Will Layzell of Nash Baker Architects “Once planning permission was granted it was a quick run on site with constant juggling of the specifications as new factors evolved. This is contrary to how projects are normally run, with all specifications being finalised prior to the on-site stages.
These on-going changes were especially critical with regard to the stair design as a difference of a few millimeters meant that the treads would fall short of their destination, or over-run so the design had to be continually re-worked, with the help of Martin Constantine at John Desmond. Without the close relationship between all of the design team and contractors this could have been an extremely difficult process however with everyone working as a tight-knit team we produced a building of which we are all extremely proud”
The staircase is the single most expensive item in the property and is a “keystone” in the statement of luxury that the design team wished to convey.
John Desmond in-house design service
In-house design services for the Bedford Gardens project were provided by Martin Constantine of John Desmond Ltd. Martin created detailed CAD drawings of every detail of the staircases.
Martin says “The general construction is mild steel stringers with steel treads, risers and landing plates. The stair is a helical stair anti-clockwise rising and is with the outer stingers bolted to the walls and stone installed on the treads, risers and landings.
The balustrade is formed from stainless steel with almond gold finish capped off with a oval timber handrail and the inner stringer is clad with three layers of flexible MDF and the soffit is plaster board.”