James & Shelagh, Warwickshire

Why a new staircase?

Our property is a timber-framed barn conversion which we agreed to buy nearly thirty years ago when it was little more than the original framing with a very old clay tile roof.  Although we had a lot of input into the works of conversion, we were nevertheless presented with a staircase ‘fait accompli’ by the developer who regarded it as his ‘piece de resistance’.  It was heavy, dark, imposing, and for a while, quite impressive  –   in a way.


I am a Chartered Surveyor and over the years became convinced that the design and execution did little to complement the original architecture and the present residential use: the situation was exacerbated by the staircase being, literally, a core feature of the house. I had begun to ruminate.

Decision making process:

Recently my wife decided that a number of other elements now needed addressing; these were mainly in the areas of carpeting and upholstery, not surprising after thirty years. We realised that with prudent planning, a case, (both aesthetic and economic) could be made for a scheme to marry our now joint concerns.

Style choice:

Our aspiration was for a scheme to harmonise the historic architecture with a contemporary residential user that itself had both classic and modern on the palette. Ideally the style would be simple and elegant; it would have presence but not undue weight. Any ‘wows’ would be whispered rather than exclaimed.  After consulting a major competitor and finding the quoted cost prohibitive, we called Abbott Wade  –  and from there on dealings have proved exemplary in this field; a scheme and costings were quickly drawn up and agreed, installation dates diarised and personnel confirmed. From the outset, there was Trust in this relationship. This trust was confirmed with the fitters (Lee and Rob) who arrived promptly (early even)  each day, were extremely personable, and whose skills and attention to detail often had me shaking my head in quiet admiration. No problems with leaving them alone to get on with the work in hand, which was completed within the week, on schedule and without hitch.  The initial trust was fully validated.

End Result:

After thirty years, the house at last feels ‘all of a piece’; the cornerstone of the aesthetic is now in place.  The historic and the contemporary are now in harmony.  A very satisfactory, and very satisfying, result.

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