Steampunk Sunday: Decorative Stair Risers

One of the details we play with in a steampunk home is the turn-of-the-century (1900s) textures and ideas. It was a time of design and mass manufacturing exploration. There was also the belief that structural elements should not only be functional but inspire us with their beauty.

With that in mind, if I were designing a steampunk home, one of the elements I would concentrate on is the stairs, specifically the risers — the horizontal portion — of the stair.

The idea for this post today came through a late-night browsing of California Pottery and Tile Works, one of my favorite places for Malibu or Casa California style tiles. Check out this Art Nouveau-inspired detail:

My dream is to have a client phone and say,"Love it, let's go!"Art Nouveau risers and bullnose tile treads (Photo: California Pottery and Tile Works)


Isn’t it striking? Simple, yet beautiful and a lovely way of adding detail to an area most people never think about. I promptly went off into dreams of tall foyers with lovely stylized railings and a repetition of the same tile as a ceiling treatment. (Well, there’s no budget in imagination, is there?)

Dark brown mahogany stair treads with this one, oh yes.A closer view 

 Of course, if you have a sulky teenager thumping the vacuum cleaner up the stairs, this might not be the material for you. And while the tile tread or the horizontal top piece is lovely, it can also be painful for little ones. Instead I might exchange the tile on the top for a lovely rich wood tread to pick up the etching in the tile, like we see here on a typical California Pottery and Tile Works photo:

I really moved to California so I could design with this style, but ended up moving north where it's not as common. One day I'll get a chance... Early southern California tile design was heavily influenced by Spanish tile makers from Catalina (Photo: California Pottery and Tile Works)

 Does it inspire you to think of the possibilities for your own steampunk home?

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