To reflect their personal style and open up their fabulous views, these condo owners replaced a solid metal staircase with an open, airy design.
by Erin McIntosh / Photos by Jeffrey Bosdet
A staircase is responsible for getting you from point A to point B, but it can also be responsible for defining a space. The original solid aluminum staircase in this Victoria West condo was a standout piece, but the material was cold, and cut off the space. It wasn’t creating the warm, cozy environment that owners Deana Brown and Doug Kelly envisioned.
“From the beginning, it was a set of stairs that we learned to live with, but we didn’t love it,” says Brown. “Because of the way our condo is designed, you walk in and the first thing you see is under the stairs. The metal blocked our view, and with our view, why would you block any of it?”
The couple live in The Edge building, in the top corner loft unit, with sweeping views of Victoria’s Inner Harbour. When they moved in six years ago, the loft had been fully renovated by the previous owner.
It came complete with sleek, epoxy-coated concrete floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, a new kitchen with quartz countertops, and a massive, custom bent aluminum staircase. It was urban, and the stairs were unique, but its form trumped its function.
Embracing the Open Concept
They knew from day one that the stairs did not match their esthetic, nor their living habits.
The couple loves to entertain. The kitchen boasts the perfect place to gather, with a big island, and a beautiful Wolf range. However, it is tucked underneath the staircase. With the metal frame and hard surfaces around the kitchen, this created an unwelcome problem.
“Being big entertainers, before COVID-19, if we had ten people around our bar and kitchen, the sound just got amplified because it bounced off that metal, and the concrete and the glass,” says Brown.
Over time, a local realtor and close friend of Brown, Kent McFadyen, connected Brown with a few local experts to tackle the staircase and its issues. Todd Martin, owner of Knot in A Box Design, came up with the design.
“Deana definitely wanted a wood element that was more open concept,” says Martin. “As it is a very tight space and has a lot of modern elements like glass and concrete floors, we agreed a wood element could bring some warmth to the space.”
He came up with an open-concept floating tread design, with double-sided glulam stringers. He says this helped “to open up the space and let more natural light through to the darker side of the space.”
Designed for Living
The original design reused the glass from the previous staircase, but once the wood was installed, everyone agreed that the space could use a different railing, and they settled on the metal.
The loft was immediately transformed. It was welcoming, warm and comfortable. The stairs no longer blocked the view, and the space felt like one cohesive unit.
Wood accents flowed from the dining room into the living room, and up into the bedroom. Brown added a beautiful complementary mid-century sideboard and a fireplace with finishes that match the stairs. These new additions also match Brown’s dining table, a piece Brown brought with her when she moved in, and which also inspired the finish for the staircase.
“It was all about bringing warmth and light, and then function, into the space, because we really do live in one room,” says Brown.
The stairs were installed before the pandemic, so Brown and Kelly were able to show it off to friends and enjoy wine and tapas under the stairs in their kitchen with ease. Entertaining was restored. Brown says the sound “significantly changed” because there was no longer anything for it to bounce off. Sadly, the couple has had to put entertaining on pause for now.
The loft is now a space designed for living and enjoying. It is defined by its warmth and comfort that was lacking prior to the renovation. The stairs no longer break up the space, and there is flow from one room to the next. Its form does not interfere with its function but enhances it.