This is the beautiful open staircase in my in-law's Tudor Revival bungalow.
In our bungalow, the stairway is separated from the rest of the first floor by a door. The stairway is relatively dark and this darkness makes it seem more narrow than it actually is.
(These pictures are a bit older...from when we first cleaned up the first floor about a year ago.)
The door closing off the stairway has helped in important ways during the work on the second floor. It has kept the work upstairs separate from the "living" downstairs.
Back when the house was older and there was little insulation in the attic, I'm sure that the door kept heat on the first floor from escaping to the second floor...especially since the second floor was meant to be more of an attic or storage space.
Now we have insulation, a cooling system and we have expanded the living space to the second floor. And, we have to move a bed up there :) A king sized bed for a VERY tall guy.
So, someday, we would like to open up our stairway. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. This is a point we haven't completely agreed upon this entire time.
jm has been a fan of preserving the symmetry of the two doors at the end of the dining room and the ability to close off the second floor from the first floor. But the door would have to be kept open most of the time for light to get into the stairway and (in the summer) to take advantage of the cold air return for the cooling system.
Aaron has been advocating for opening up the space to more light, improving the flow between the first and second floor, and creating visual interest that is outside of the "box" of the dining room's shape.
After almost two years of living here, we are leaning towards opening up this space creatively, with a Craftsman railing design that makes the stairway itself delightful to look at. Lose the symmetry but create something special that pulls you into this room. Currently, its boxy shape and many doors (4!) makes it interesting as a pass through room, but doesn't inspire you to linger or use it very much.
Because bungalows should combine the best of design and the use of every space, we need to reclaim the dining room AND the stairway.