The Apartment Therapy website features a closeup of a London apartment with a Stairway To Heaven. If you’re a booklover, that is!
Austrian expats who’ve lived in London for several years, Veronika and Sebastian have always been shocked by the state of London rental apartments, with their drafty rooms and faulty plumbing. So they were thrilled when they found a top-floor flat in a 1898 building that had just been remodeled from head to toe, modernizing it without ruining its Victorian charms.
When Leonie and Rhodri (the previous inhabitants) added the upstairs, the architect proposed a handsome and clever book-lined staircase to house their formidable combined libraries in one streamlined space.
“The flat occupies part of the shared top floor of an existing Victorian mansion block. Our proposal extended the flat into the unused loft space above, creating a new bedroom level and increasing the floor area of the flat by approximately one third. We created a ‘secret’ staircase, hidden from the main reception room, to access a new loft bedroom lit by roof lights. Limited by space, we melded the idea of a staircase with our client’s desire for a library to form a ‘library staircase’ in which English oak stair treads and shelves are both completely lined with books. With a skylight above lighting the staircase, it becomes the perfect place to stop and browse a tome. The stair structure was designed as an upside down ‘sedan chair’ structure that carries the whole weight of the stair and books back to the main structural walls of the building. It dangles from the upper floor thereby avoiding any complicated neighbour issues with the floors below.”
“It’s just brilliant because the way it’s conceived, you can walk by it and not even notice it,” Leonie says. “So it’s like this fabulous surprise.” The rather treacherous staircase hangs from steel beams, so as not to put any pressure on the Victorian floor, and the staircase has the air of a steep mountain climb from the bottom. “At first I was terrified! Every time!” says Veronika. “Soon, though, it becomes a mechanism and even in the dark one manages to make it downstairs.”