stairs to inhabit.

The brief was to replace a patio with a timber deck for barbequing, entertaining, contemplating.

The design was conceived as two rooms, roughly four metres in depth, opening off the two external doors, with an interconnecting narrow boardwalk. The Balau timber boards were laid perpendicular to each other, to emphasise the notion of rooms. With a drop of just under a metre to the garden, four steps were required. These were positioned roughly one-third of the way along, to offset the otherwise symmetrical elevation. Then, taking up around two-thirds of the length, two very deep, very wide stairs were formed – stairs to inhabit. The stairs can be sat upon, played upon, inhabited…

wilmerhatch deck

This project was completed a month or so ago for a family home in Surrey. I have since spied this wonderful house in Tokyo, aptly named Coil House; the house is entirely comprised of flights of inhabitable stairs.

coil house

Defined by 44 steps of varying depths and widths, Coil is a spiral of continuously ascending spaces, designed for a family in Tokyo.

To maximize the tiny, oblong lot, three square wooden columns were planted along the plot’s central axis, each one wrapped with treads. While large, open landings act as rooms, level changes eliminate the need for partitions and doors with the winding of the stairs separating the spaces.

The three-story climb begins at the wedge-shaped foyer. Four steps descend to the bathroom, while 13 broad treads, ranging in depth and doubling as the library, ascend to a series of large landings, designated as living and sleeping areas. At the top of the house, the sequence culminates in a compact galley kitchen, and an elevated dining area.

A masterful use of a narrow space, entirely eliminating the need for corridors.

I love to inhabit stairs; for me they provide the perfect perch for talking on the phone. What about you – do you utilise your stairs for purposes other than climbing?

Images and more Coil House, here  /  Feature image, Prada store NY, via

8 thoughts on “stairs to inhabit.

  1. interiornovice

    Hi Jane, Stairs are the most amazing things. We have one step that connects our open plan living area into the kitchen. Little J and I sit on it every afternoon while we have an afternoon snack together. It’s become our little ritual. Lovely post – the design of your patio is just beautiful.

  2. susan colebourne

    fabulous post… love the notion of inhabitable stairs {never heard it phrased like that before!} & i dislike corridors intensely {especially poky, narrow ones with hundreds of doors leading off them}… so this is a lovely concept… i often perch myself on random steps when i’m out and about to take in a view, grab a quick bite or fumble through my handbag… i actually prefer steps, particularly as they seem to be a hell of a lot more prominent in this city than benches!

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