sometimes a stair is just a stair, but in some Manhattan duplex lofts ….

you want it straight, bent, or rounded?

For some folks, the need to get from Down to Up in a Manhattan duplex loft is a bug, for others it’s a feature. A stair shrinks a space (eats into the floor plan on both levels) but having two levels provides wonderful separation between ‘public’ and ‘private’ spaces. Few people are indifferent, and it’s kinda sorta a chocolate or vanilla thing. But how you get from Up to Down, and back again, presents some choices.

I looked at about a couple hundred closed loft sales last week in (finally!) updating my Master List of downtown Manhattan loft sales. It’s funny what jumps out at you in scanning so many listings, so quickly. In this case, I was struck by a sequence of stairways, each a different solution to a problem endemic to duplexed lofts. Let’s look at some pictures, and floor plans….

This L-stair (with a single landing) dominates a relatively small duplex loft (“1,083 sq ft”), but it is pretty stylish:

white as it is, it still looms

It takes quite a bite out of the floor plan, especially upstairs:

not sure there is room for a bed up there

Here’s a stair with two landings in a slightly larger loft (ballpark it at “1,400 sq ft”), a much lighter feature with the open rails:

put a bar under the stair, for crying out loud!

If you could use the nooks or crannies created by such a stairway, the bite out of the floor plan isn’t quite as great:

upstairs, that’s a void of about 8 x 8 ft (Elliman again)

I’m not sure this one is even legal (no railing!) but it is certainly lighter still, in footprint and in feel, in another small loft (“1,000 sq ft”):

friends don’t let friends … drink and climb

Same building as the one above, this somewhat larger loft (“1,284 sq ft”) uses a common type (the spiral stair) but stretches it to an artistic level:

it “floats” doesn’t it? (pay no attention to the stairway [fire escape] in the window) (an Elliman photo, btw)

(I’d show you how on the floor plan this ‘stretch spiral’ takes up less room than all but one of the above stairways, but the floor plan doesn’t do this stairway justice.)

This is all too often the ‘default’ stairway, to be avoided (IMHO) unless there are no better options:

I’ve never seen anyone navigate this sort of thing without a hand on the rail.

If the treads are only 28” wide, that’s still a box of almost 25 sq ft taken out of each level. And with your standard (tight) spiral stair, it is rather awkward to carry anything that requires two hands up or down. An infant, for instance.

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