While the look of a handrail is functional, the design should extend beyond function to integrate beauty and craftsmanship. A handrail is a key element of staircase design, as well as loft, mezzanine and sunken areas like a den or family room in homes and condominiums. While developing your ideas, consider the needs of those using the staircase. Select materials, the right height, width, safety and sturdiness to accommodate the needs of family members and frequent guests.
Contemporary handrail designs convey a feeling of openness. The handrail should be simple and uncomplicated, with minimal embellishments on the actual handrail. A flat design for the handrail itself works best, instead of one curved or embellished with grooves. Paint the handrail in a basic color like black, gray or white to complement the interior of the room. Use steel cable cords, horizontally placed and staggered every 4 to 6 inches in between the baluster points for a sleek, high-tech look.
Handrails for Acrylic and Glass Staircases
Use natural light-colored handrails for a staircase that incorporates acrylic or glass instead of darker woods for a modern look. The fusion of materials and use of ash, beech, white oak and birch handrails will make the use of glass or acrylic striking. Handrails can be rounded or curved to add to the overall design. Hardware attaching the rails to balusters can be made of stainless steel for contrast. Consider including end caps and finials of chrome or brass to add a modern effect and impact to the handrails.
Classic Wooden Handrails
Classic staircase designs that feature turned balusters should have handrails that complement this style. Incorporate a handrail that has curves, bellows and grooves on the base where the handrail attaches to balusters. Choose classic woods of oak, mahogany and walnut stains for the handrail. Varnish the rail to add ease and smoothness to the touch as people grasp the handrail to assist in climbing the staircase. Classic varnished wooden rails add elegance to staircases with wrought iron in the baluster area between the handrail and the base of the staircase.
Two-story homes often have steep staircases with abundant wall space exists near the end where the balusters are installed. This can be a safety concern, especially if the upstairs has the majority of the bedrooms. Install wall-mounted handrails to make the journey up and down the staircase safer and easier. These provide security for children, elderly residents, those with physical disabilities and guests as they go up and down the staircase to bed and bathrooms. Consider adding wall-mounted rails on both sides of the walls as an extra measure of safety to assist the elderly and disabled.
A curved handrail will add drama and elegance. Homes with a large foyer space are appropriate for a curved handrail feature. The curvature will enhance a flared staircase leading to upstairs areas. Curvature will be mandatory if the staircase is spiral. Curved handrails require planning and construction by experienced handrail and staircase designers and installers.
- Photo Credit detail of a stairs handle image by enens from Fotolia.com
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