Archive for January, 2010

Beautiful Custom Stairs is a web site devoted to the work of Loren Dugan in the Seattle area.  I found his site on the web and was so impressed with his work I thought it would be nice to alert my readers to it for inspiration as well as those in the Northwest that might be interested in his services.  The staircases in the gallery represent not only beautiful design but exceptional craftsmanship as well. I know you will agree.  You can go to his stair gallery here: Beautiful Custom Stairs Gallery

These are a set of inside balusters we reproduced in soft maple some time back.  The design is simple but nice, I think.  The piantee baluster is the original obviously.  They measured 1 3/4″ wide at the squares. 

These columns (porch posts) were popular in the US in the 18th and 19th century. The chamfered edges terminate in a “lambs tongue”.
By the way, a chamfer is a beveled edge connecting two surfaces. If the surfaces are at right angles, the chamfer will typically be symmetrical at 45 degrees (def. from wikipedia).
You can see the lamb’s tongue in the still image at the end of the video.
The chamfer and lamb’s tongue were not only commonly used on porch post but also on exposed beams.

I was contracted to turn these large island legs in alder some time back.
Alder is considered by some to be a cherry substitute, I suppose, because it has a pinkish color. That is probably the only common ground between the two species. You might argue that they both have a similar smell. Why would anyone substitute alder for cherry you may ask? Alder is more plentiful and so cheeper. Cherry has been one of America’s classic wood species and, as such, has been overly harvested. Cherry today is more likely to include sap wood because it is harvested from smaller trees (sap wood is whitish in color and contrast sharply with the characteristic pink heart color of cherry – not a desirable trait)

I suspect that most of my readers are more prone to traditional stair design because that is more of what I have posted about here and at Architectural Turnings. You may, however, like to see what others are doing (other architects and designers that is) in the design arena. At the least, you may have yourself a good laugh and “make your day”. Or you may see something you like or come away with a few good ideas. You see some of these “minimalist” stair designs here: Modern Stair Designs

This is a video I produced some time back. We often get a request for alternating stair balusters. The stair balusters alternate between a barley twisted balusters and a plain baluster You can see the final product at the end of the video.

One of the realities about the footprint of any staircase design is that it takes up a lot of space.  One of the solutions to this reality is to incorporate usable storage beneath the stairs.  The has an article on making this possible.  The image they they have used is reason enough to go there to read the article.  One of the first projects I ever worked on was to add a drawer system into the space under a stairway.  You’ll find some practical ways to do this yourself or hire someone else to do it here: Stair Storage

If you are really into stair design and stair ideas like I am you will get a “fix” on your addition at This site is about architecture and design but has quite a huge number of posts related to stairs. Most of the stair posts, I should add, are “modern” in style and will turn traditionalist off. But even traditionalist should come away with a few clever ideas that will work into the traditionalist mind set. You can see their site here:

Hooked on Houses has a posted an interesting set of stairway possibilities.  These “possibilities” are not for the faint of heart but may give you some creative ides on finishing your staircase.  The finishing ideas are not ,in fact, painted but peel and stick paper that can be easily removed and changed to a different pattern.  You can view the images at their blog and the peel and stick material at

You may have seen these stair design images on the web. I think they have probably been out there for some time. I use the phase “out there” on purpose. You’ll understand when you see these unique stair images. You can see them here: Creative Stair Designs