Getting from one place to another is rarely a problem when it comes to exterior design because, unlike interiors, you seldom have to worry about permanent structural elements, like walls, getting in the way. However, more consideration needs to be given to exteriors if there is an incline. Slopes and hills mean you will have to think about an inclined pathway or outdoor stairs.
Steps and stairs have advantages over sloping paths since they are able to cope with steeper inclines. They are also capable of connecting the architecture of a home with the rest of the landscape design. Exterior stairs need to be hard wearing and resistant to the elements.
However, there is no need to compromise on a stylish design. Even highly functional stairs, that serve a specific purpose, can look great if you choose the right style, to go with the rest of the home, and select the best materials. If you have identified an area in your garden that needs a set of stairs to open it up, take inspiration from some design classics.
The Floating Look.
Stairs that appear to be effortless in their function are great to look at. Seeming to hover above the ground as if they are bobbing on the surface of a lake, floating stairs gives a sophisticated feel to a landscape. In reality, all of the steps that make up floating stairs need to be anchored to the ground. The floating look is achieved by the steps having a low profile which overhangs their supporting structure a little. Because the low profile keeps the anchor point out of view, each step appears to float independently. The look is great with stone slabs set over a gravelled area concealing the concrete supporting structure. Alternatively, the look can be achieved in wood, with a series of mini-decks overlaying one another.
If you want to connect your home’s balcony to the rest of the exterior install some external stairs to do the job. Sometimes, you will need to do this because of fire regulations. Keep your stairs’ construction materials the same as the rest of the balcony. Turn the stairwell back towards the property, if you want to keep the visual impact to a minimum. Install a balustrade and a rest point half way down. If you have more than one level to connect and not much room, spiral staircases work very well out of doors. Remember to consider water run-off so that the stairs remain safe.
If you have two levels that you want to connect in the exterior of your home, then a good option is to go for two connected terraces. If the land has been levelled, use a wide set of steps to bring the two together. The key to getting the look just right is to use large, flat steps. This is not a look to go for if you have a very steep garden.
Installing lighting in your external stairs really makes a feature of them. In addition, integral lighting means that steps are safer to use and easier to negotiate in the evening. Light fittings do not have to be fitted in a regular pattern, so why not break the look up with some random scattering? Another good look is strips of LED lighting that sit underneath each step’s overhang.
The Grand Sweep.
If you want to make a statement with your home’s connection with outside there are few better ways of doing it than with a grand, sweeping set of stairs. The look is equally as impressive if delivered in a formal or informal way.
Don’t overlook the natural beauty of wooden stairs for the outside of a home. They may not be as long lasting as stone steps, but well maintained they will last a lifetime. Wooden steps work really well with other material, such as steel, rope and glass panels.
Picture sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14.