Safe Stairs

 | 3 min

I don't really like climbing down ladders. The biggest argument I could come up with against having a loft was that you typically need to climb a ladder to access it. Going up might be OK, but coming back down would be more of a problem. I didn't really fancy having to negotiate a ladder half-asleep in the dark at 3am if I need to go downstairs to pee. But I've seen some very clever stair designs in tiny houses, which double as storage spaces, so that immediately felt like the right solution for me.

It's a tricky design issue in such a small space. Steeper stairs take up less valuable floor space, but are harder to climb. Stairs are typically against one wall, which is also the part of the loft with the lowest ceiling, meaning you usually cannot stand up at the top of the stairs. So to come down from the loft, you have to sort of crouch/crawl/knee-walk onto the top of the stairs, and then stoop for the first couple of stairs. This feels quite dangerous to me, since some of the stairs have no handrails or anything to stop you falling to the ground floor if you stumbled.

For instance, these stairs look beautiful, but I'd be very worried about falling onto the heater if I lost my footing:

safe-stairs What if you tripped?

These are a quite striking feature, and take up little room, but are very narrow. I'd definitely not be comfortable trying to clamber onto them without even anything to hold on to:

tiny house crafters Striking feature, but not much to hold on to at the top

These have very clean lines, and are a bit wider, but I'd still feel a bit vulnerable at the top of the stairs:

tiny ida homes Wider is definitely better, but still no handholds

The cupboards to the left of this one give you something to hold on to, which makes these feel like they would be a bit more secure, but the stairs are very high which I think would make them quite difficult to come down:

tiny tack house Very steep

These are wide enough, and have no railing on the stairs, but there is a railing at the front of the loft, so you have a handhold at the top.

storage stairs A little narrow

These are closer to a normal stair tread, they are wider, and at the top there is something at the front of the loft that can be used as a handhold, so they feel a lot safer:

wide and comfortable Wide and comfortable

This next set are fairly similar, but have a handrail on the side, as well as a railing on the loft at the top. They also look like they have a nice non-slip tread, and there is a wide landing a the top:

Wide, long and with a handrail! Wide, long and with a handrail!

Although these are steep, the handrail gives you some security, and the railing on he loft gives you something to hold on to as you transition onto the stairs:

steep but safe Steep but safe

While these are quite narrow, the handrails and the fact that the stairs run between a wall and a cupboard make the risk of falling off them quite low:

narrow but safe Narrow but safe Bear Creek Carpentry Company

I really like these. The cupboard wall and loft railing on one side and the wall on the other makes them feel very safe and comfortable to use:

Brett Sutherland Brett Sutherland's tiny house kitchen and stairs

These below are my favourite. With a solid wall on either side, and a handrail, I don't think you would fall. Also, there is a landing in which you can stand and get into bed, rather than have to crouch/crawl on the top few stairs.

safe and comfortable Safe, comfortable and convenient!

I plan to design something similar to this into my tiny house.