Earlier this month, we talked about how (someday) we might want to open up the stairway off of the dining room and leading to the second floor.
This led to my favorite part of having this blog...hearing about the great ideas, different advantages and disadvantages, technical and practical considerations of pursuing this idea.
They might be on a break from renovating, but they aren't on a break from design! Heather and Dave from 1912 Bungalow weighed in with some beautiful graphics from a vintage Universal Design catalog of bungalow stairway ideas (like the one above).
Some of the important points that were made in the comments (can't post 'em all here...these are some of the highlights):
I hope that isn't a load bearing wall! If it is you could always do cutouts between the joists and put in some tall, thin stained glass windows.
If you need to, you could put the door at the top of the stairs.
Posted by: Gary at March 4, 2005 12:07 PM
We ripped out the door at the bottom of our stairway and opened it up a bit. It looks nicer, but in the winters, it gets very warm on the second floor, and stays pretty cold on the first floor. We have radiator heat, not forced air. The heat just rushes up the open stairs. You may want to leave the door constantly open for the rest of this winter and see what effect that has on the temperatures on the two floors before you rip it out for good.
Posted by: Dan at March 4, 2005 01:23 PM
You COULD split the difference~ Take down the wall, but replace it with an open wooden screen or slats. By working this around the doorway, you could preserve the symmetry and add interest (and more visual space) to the dining room while keeing the staircase a little bit seperate. this could be detailed in truly classic craftsman fashion.
Also, while I'm generally in favor of open staircases for all the reasons people have mentioned, dining rooms are all about sedentary activity. Moreso than any other room in the house (perhaps aside from the "facilities", you go into the dining room, sit down to do your business, and leave. You'll rarely see a staircase open to the dining room in new design. Having such an obvious marker of movement might be more of a disjuncture than you want. Maybe that very thing is why you say "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." Of course, such an interesting articulation of space might give that room a needed focal point.
Posted by: Nathan at March 7, 2005 08:25 AM
Could you ask for a better reason to have a houseblog than THIS??? I couldn't.
Even though there is still some time before we have to make decisions about this or tackle it, it is good to be doing the research and paying attention to these issues now. Because other decisions in adjoining rooms will affect and be affected by the possibilities.
Nathan's point about the dining room being about sedentary activity is well taken. My family lived in a farmhouse in Ohio where the dining room was entirely separate and we only used it for formal dinners. We ate in the kitchen everyday.
In three out of four of my last living spaces--old apartments, condos and now this house--the dining room has been more central to the space. Because of that, we used those past dining rooms as a social hub. Meals, tea and conversation, grad school homework, regular work, bill paying...everything happened at that dining room table. That is why I would like the dining room to be a place to linger...right now the design is so disjointed, it doesn't even feel comfortable to eat a meal there for very long.
But it wasn't until lately (after almost two years of living here), that I realized how we were interacting with the design of the space...as a researcher and ex-ethnographer, that is fascinating to me. We'll see how it plays out.