The stairs in question lead to our second floor, which, based on floorplans of identical houses in our immediate vicinity, must have led to what was originally the attic. That explains a lot, as a rope ladder and a strong grip were all that were probably needed to access the attic 50 years ago.At some point, the former owner decided that not only did she want to go upstairs, but she wanted to actually use the space for more than storing old boxes. Windows were added. Closets were installed. Light fixtures were purchased.
But for some undiscovered reason, she never thought it was important to do something silly and unnecessary, like meet building code, when designing the staircase of her dreams.Here is a photo so you will know I am not just rambling about nothing.
|I have to admit that I picked the colors|
So. Back to The Husband. We fight daily, sometimes slightly less often, about these 26-inch-wide stairs. Fights that begin with me declaring, “I don’t want to spend $50,000 on new stairs, why can’t you just live with them” and end with him (yet again) cursing his 6’4” basketball player frame.If no mere person can fit up the stairs, then obviously neither can furniture. We found this out the day we moved in and attempted to take an overstuffed chair up. It got stuck in the stairwell, thus contributing to the overall joy and stress-free atmosphere that is Moving Day.
At the time, I said, “We’ll laugh about this someday!”
We don’t laugh.
Nor giggle. We don’t even do that Mona Lisa half-smile thing.
We are now keenly aware that the only furniture that can make the steep and narrow ascent is furniture that comes flat and small, like Legos or IKEA furniture that you must build yourself. Which is what the staircase forced us to do. We bought an IKEA loveseat, and my number one requirement was the polar opposite of my standard criteria. I asked the salesgirl: “Does it come in eleventy gazillion pieces that we have to spend hours trying to put together ourselves with a metal Allen wrench the size of a toothpick only to realize that we are missing some crucial part? Yes? We'll take it.”
I also had a contractor make me a table—again, he constructed it inside the actual room. He showed up with a saw, wood, and some nails. I handed him a beautiful sketch I'd done on a cocktail napkin the night before, and a few short hours later I had a table that would permanently reside upstairs.
It is not as easy as you might think to make the stairs bigger and wider. Since they are literally in the center of the house, they impact everything around them: the dining room, the hallway, the kitchen, the bathroom, the basement. I am worried that if I query my contractor about widening and enlarging the stairs, he will say ugly words to me, words like “load bearing” and “impossible” and “second mortgage.”So in the meantime, we reluctantly deal with the stairs. I tell The Husband, “Think skinny.”