When Blanca Sanchez, head of Halo Design Interiors, was asked to work on a new-build in an exclusive Surrey estate, she was sure to make a feature of the staircase. ‘The owners wanted something with a contemporary edge,’ she says, ‘so we used a curved glass balustrade, while the treads and risers are solid walnut’. This, she says, ‘adds warmth and a timeless quality’. The handrail (again, solid walnut) has a soft square edge, which gives it a modern feel.
But sometimes it’s worth sticking with what you’ve got. When interior designer Gail Race transformed an ordinary 1970s house into a chic contemporary home, she updated everything from the windows to the exterior walls. ‘But we kept the original staircase, made from an endangered hardwood,’ she says. The rich tones of the wood contrast with whitewashed walls, resulting in a thoroughly modern effect. Wood is often cosier and more homely than glass. It’s also versatile – when you get bored with it, you can just paint it.