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The St Kilda West Project

The new timber staircase has given this home an ambiance that was previously lacking. The new timber staircase has given this home an ambiance that was previously lacking. Andrew Ashton

Royston Wilson Design

Victoria Entries 2011

The West St Kilda Project became a journey for designer, client and builder. The existing conditions had the client frustrated, the designer excited with the challenge and the builder glad that someone else was working out this puzzle! The design showcases what to most lay people would have seemed an insurmountable situation. An illegal ladder style staircase leading into a small storage area that needed to be magically turned into a bedroom, bathroom and robe! With careful management, a design was created that worked within the confines of the cathedral ceilings, took into account the space required for a new staircase and totally recreated the ambiance of the space. This was so successful that the clients have moved into this area that was originally intended to be the guest accommodation.

The existing stair case needed to be dealt with effectively and the new staircase ultimately provided a pivotal point in the design. The narrowness and illegal nature of the existing staircase meant that it needed to be totally rebuilt. The need to maintain the three ply cathedral ceilings also gave inspiration for the final design. Hiding plumbing and giving flow to a mid air structure (the mezzanine) certainly gave rise to opportunities that made the end result very satisfying for all.

Rebuilding the staircase in a new position required a great deal of space. The new staircase was pushed against the wall on the opposite side of the room creating a far better delineation between lounge and dining. Instead of being a “stairway to heaven” like its predecessor, the new staircase had a return and with its open treads and glass sides suddenly became a piece of beauty in itself. The timber selected for the string and treads was SMARTLVL 18.The selection was motivated by the existing exposed beams in the house. The aim was for the staircase to look like it was part of the existing home, not a later addition.The SMARTLVL 18 is very stable and resists warping and twisting. Oh so important in such a construction. The uniform sizes are also beneficial with natural defects dispersed throughout the member as opposed to solid timber with knots. The uniformity has the advantage of a rigid, flat surface that can be cut, fastened and nailed with ease. The landing sub floor was manufactured from F17 KDHW and 108x19 Tasmanian oak floorboards to match existing floor where needed.

Timber is durable, hard wearing, warm and maintenance free. Why look to other finishes? There was no other choice for this project and the results speak for themselves.
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  • Small Budget Projects, 2011
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