Stairs In Stone Homes
Stone Homes are really a look back in time.
In the 1800’s all over Ontario these homes were literally popping up all over the place. Originally built by the families who settled the land. Can you imagine landing in a new and untamed world and having to build a place to live. Imagine not having a lumber yard to go to. Imagine all you had were hand tools. Imagine the miracle of electricity was still decades away. All you have to build with is what you find on the land.
In some parts of the country people used the sod they could dig from the earth. These homes were relatively easy to build but had very clear short comings and were temporary at best.
Building With Stone
Was an option. A tough choice but an obvious one if permanency was a consideration. Finding stones on the ground is pretty normal in Ontario. Trying to find a way to assemble these stones into a structure that would stand proud over the years would be a reasonable choice. In this century the stairs tell us an awful lot about these homes and the people who built them. Stairs get us from one floor to another.
The After Thought
This was the first stone home stair that we photographed. The very first. And it was an after thought. These stairs had clearly been cut into the structure after it was finished. The home was built with an attic, but often access to that space was by a ladder. There were several reasons for that. Firstly, building stairs requires a high level of skill. It requires a tradesman who is able, but also requires tooling and wood milling that simply wasn’t available to the early pioneers. Secondly, heating these homes was always a challenge. Keeping the floor space open was one way to make the heat more efficient. As time went on, the family who lived here needed easier and more permanent access to the attic and so the stairs were added.
We often see stairs in stone homes that have been painted. Just like in 1960’s homes we often see wall to wall carpeting. It can be done and look great. We love to see these, and how people use them to showcase their homes.
The elegance of a painted stair can be very calming.
This stair is in a grand stone home north of Brockville. It was built by an army colonel with tremendous means. Milled lumber was available. The doors and trims are amazing.
The stairs – railings – and balustrade were exceptional. Over time the wood had been painted. Getting the paint off revealed a phenomenal patina and detail. Incidentally, the most interesting part of these stairs was when I realized someone had reversed them. When I inspected this home it became clear that when it was time to move the plumbing indoors (what a luxury) they had to make some changes to create space for a bathroom. As we see often, the owners at the time felt the easiest space to give up was the landing at the back of the stairs. But in order to make that work the stairs needed to be reversed. It’s strange to see the landing at the bottom (living room level) But the existing stairwell was closer to the back of the home and when reversed the stair would have run across the door to the kitchen. Thus the landing.