Replacing the steep, narrow and dangerous staircase in our house with a space-effective spiral staircase was always part of our renovation plan. We looked online at beautiful industrial era staircases from Britain and compared those to the rickety plastic structures available at the local DIY stores. We also considered using a glass staircase too but we didn’t feel the space was quite right for this. Places like Pear Stairs offer this, so we might revisit the idea in a different space in the future. As always, it was also a question of price; we knew that this would be one of the biggest expenses of the renovation.
The Original Staircase
Making an Opening
Finding a Blacksmith
Just about every town in rural Provence has it’s own blacksmith (hand-made is, of course, always best). We knew we had to get a few quotes as we were certain that we would encounter the “second price” that is often used for foreigners in these parts. One workshop refused to even consider making a spiral staircase. It needed to be made quite narrow, and very tall to accommodate our high ceiling (2.85 meters high and 1.3 meters wide- the worst combo to work with) and be made using some sheets made from aluminium to ensure the steps are sturdy enough!
The price quotes for our escalier en colimaçon ranged from 3,700-5,200 euros. Robin instantly liked Mr. Blume, a blacksmith in the next town. The strong, silent type Mr. Blume smiled at our halting French and amazingly set to work right away. We provided him with an image of a staircase that we liked. He then came to the house several times to calculate the steepness of the stairs depending on where they stopped and started within the room.
After 2 weeks and barely any warning, Mr. Blume showed up at the house, always in his flap cap, with the staircase on the back of his truck.
It took 2 days to install. H had to cut the ceiling according to the width of the stairs, take a template made of bent metal so that he could make the safety handrail on the second level, weld the pieces on, and then fix it to the floor. Making sure the metal is the right size and length can be achieved with a side grinder to cut it down or around it.
Mr. Blume fixed the metal platforms onto what will be the underside of the steps. We can then insert wooden platforms on each step (for my toes in winter!). We’re going to wait a while to seal the iron with lacquer. Hopefully, some lovely natural rust effect takes hold.
We allowed our blacksmith some artistic license and went with his idea of the larger first step to facilitate coming off and on the narrow stairs. However, once it was in the house we asked him to take that extended part off. It looked a little too clunky in such a small space. I don’t have a picture here, but the spiral staircase is more elegant now.
Still not welded into place this is not the finished result- but you get the idea..I can’t get another picture at the moment because this spiral staircase is now covered. There is some serious work happening in the house. We have 2 workmen helping us for the next 2 weeks. It’s starting to get serious!