Tuesday, December 30, 2008
12: Front Steps Handrails
During the design process, I was always thinking about ways to give the house a sense of history—even if it was only fabricated. I didn't want all of the details in the design to be too uniform. Older houses usually have a layered look—you can often see how things were done to the house over time. In my study of old houses in the area, I realized that one those details is frequently the handrail on the front steps of houses. I noticed that they were often made of a different material than the porch railing of the house. So, I asked Oak Tree Homes to explore a metal option for the front step handrails. I shared some of my scouting shots of examples I had seen, and they first talked with their metal guy about fabricating something for me. This proved to be too expensive, but Eric at Oak Tree found a great alternative for a metal hand rail system sold through the Internet. We weren't able to get some of the details that I really wanted, like the balls in the scouting shot below, but the price for the new system fit my budget. It ended up being a really simple detail and we painted the steel (not aluminum, which would have felt too light) black. The rail is mounted into the slate tread and the columns of the porch. I wanted it to be delicate but strong enough to handle children swinging from the rail. Note: when using a new product to replicate the look of something older—like the rail in this case—pay particular attention to details, like the diameter for the railing here. Something too chunky, or on the other hand too small, would have ruined the effect.