Step up: by Ian Knapper

Over more than 25 years the name of Ian Knapper, the eponymous head of his company in Staffordshire, has become synonymous with stunning stone design, including the finest fireplaces, staircases and other sculptural and architectural stonework. 01538 722733. [email protected]

When I think of accessorising I think of elements that complement and add value to the structure, form, and texture of the stone and design we create.

Although there is nothing more satisfying to me than seeing a newly installed, well-designed stone staircase simply winding up through a building, there are a few things that need to be designed and thought through that sit on or around the stone that can elevate the project yet further.

Get this right and it can make a project. It adds personality, detail, and a finish that ties in with the context of the building. Get it wrong and it can draw the eye away from the craftsmanship and natural beauty of the worked stone.

The first accessorising tool is something many of the designers and architects we work with are keen to incorporate: the extension of the stone beyond the staircase. 

Many wish to celebrate stone as a part of their grand scheme. Some will even say: “I want my stair to feel like its growing out of the floor.”

Although we don’t do just stone flooring, we do help clients who want to extend their staircase or fireplace throughout other areas of the house. But why would we do that? Simple. If you wanted to match the floor tiles to the stone on the staircase you would have to go through a process of bespoke selection – ie matching as best you can the tone and texture. But even if they were the same type of stone, the chances are that they wouldn’t look the same. In fact, they could look quite a bit different. That’s the nature of stone.

As we source the stone for the staircase we can generally get stone from the same batch for a floor. We’ve had clients who loved it so much they decided to run it through the whole house.

On the flip side, we also get clients that want a real contrast in stones. It’s all down to the designer, architect and client,  with us here to make that vision a reality.

Another important consideration for a stone staircase is the balustrade. This introduces no end of options, from the ultra-modern to the twee and traditional.

Most popular is metalwork. But, although less common than metal, we have installed some stunning glass balustrades, some topped with a timber or steel rail and others left as a simple precise glass barrier. It works really well with a clean, square tread profile, giving no interruption to the sightline to the staircase, allowing the stone to be viewed from any point in the room.

When the balustrade is metalwork it might be painted steel, stainless steel, chrome or brass. And design wise the options are limitless. Some want a really organic, complicated design to complement the clean finish of a Moleanos limestone tread. Others might opt for simpler, cleaner lines or architectural shapes.

Handrails are often metals and woods, again with a huge variety to choose from. We have even had some finished with leather, which looked amazing.

We work with specialist metalworkers, carpenters and craftsmen to help clients realise their ideal staircase down to the last tread, nut, bolt rail and post.

When a client, architect or design team approach us, they often have a pretty detailed vision of what they are looking to achieve.

The addition of these ‘accessories’ add more than just function and safety. They extend and complement the design of the stairs, enhance the texture of the stone and augment the overall project.

These are important decisions worth making early on in a project to achieve the perfect feel and finish the client is seeking.