Unquestionably, the most OMG moment of our house build.
We’ve had a lot of amazing, big smile moments, but this is the first big change that has left us in shock at its impact on how we now live.
Totally stunning AND for the first time in 4 years we can hold a cup of coffee in one hand and get up onto the first floor. Couldn’t do that on the ladder!
Why and what, you might ask, are these things here? Hint – not purely decorative:
So, why the pulleys?
Why the wires?
Because this staircase, does this:
Yes, Easterdown has a drawbridge staircase that comes apart and moves out of the way to make one big room.
‘One big room’ was first thing I told Mike Hope and Leila Westrope of Roderick James Architects that I wanted the house to have.
Because we weren’t very experienced reading architects’ drawings and even though I knew we had a first floor, somehow we didn’t register that those dotted lines on the architects’ drawings represented a staircase. Until the frame went up.
I stood with Mike Hope and Mike Roberts (Whiteway Carpenters) and said, “Is there going to be a staircase here? I thought we were going to have one big room?”
Mike Roberts said, “Why don’t you have a drawbridge for a staircase? You already have a bed in the cabin that is on pulleys and becomes a ceiling”.
Mike Hope was enthusiastic that we should continue the cabin’s theme into the house.
And in that moment, the seed that Mike H. and Leila had planted, to live in a house full of fantastical transforming furniture, put down its roots and began to grow.
Frequently asked questions are:
How did you find someone to make, design and install this for you?
Would you believe Bell Ringing? We are fanatical campanologists and in our group of bellringers is a woman who does prop making and commissioning for English National Opera and Opera North. I asked her how she would get this designed and commissioned and she said “Talk to Theatre Royal Plymouth Production Services (TR2). They have a complete scenery and prop making workshop.”
Up until we talked to TR2 we had struggled to convince any staircase designer to make a staircase that moved. At the initial meeting, Jason and Sebastian of TR2 pointed out to us that they had never made a staircase that DOESN”T move.
What kind of wood is that?
Horse Chestnut. Because it has such beautiful markings, it has lots of soft spots where the knots are and is rarely used for structural wood. But I filled the treads with lots and lots of clear epoxy resin, making them like small ‘River’ tables. Strong and beautiful!
What was the installation like, how long did it take?
Well…it was a VERY busy day.
The actual installation started around 10am and ended at 21:00 pm. The wildlife camera caught this:
We had Mike’s family here too, and Easterdown Cheese was doing a little qPCR experiment – pathogen monitoring using DNA detection – very exciting! (More about this over at easterdowncheese.com)
Over in the house, there was a lot of this (I’m in the cabin doing a bit of pipetting):
and finally, this (yes, it was a bit late!):