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Costly Stair Design Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Designing the perfect staircase might seem simple enough. You're just installing a set of stairs in your house — what could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, many people make costly mistakes and don't realize it until they start the installation process. If you made a mistake, you might have to tear out the staircase and start over again. Worse still, you might have to live with the staircase for the next several years.

For most people, consulting a professional designer is the best way to go. However, others have designed their own staircases and ended up with the staircase of their dreams. If you're thinking about designing a staircase, here are some tips on avoiding the most common home building mistakes.

1. Don't Choose Design Over Function

When you start your project, your first instinct might be to build a staircase that looks like the stairs you've seen on Pinterest. Elaborate banisters, floating stairs, vibrant murals, glass frames and curved staircases might become part of your design plan. These staircases might look pretty, but they might also be impossible to build in your house.

Homeowners have to adhere to local building codes. This means that your fancy staircase might not be feasible — and if you push ahead anyway, you might run afoul of a few building codes in the process. You'll also have to consider practicality. Will the staircase fit within your living space? Do you have accurate measurements? If your staircase is even a few centimeters off, it could throw off the entire plan.

Before you start thinking about the design, get your measurements and figure out a basic staircase plan. You can get to the fun part after you've designed a safe staircase that adheres to the building codes.

2. Consider the Rest of Your Decor

Imagine designing a beautiful staircase, only to realize that it clashes with the rest of your decor. The contractors have already installed your new stairs, so you have two choices: Live with the eyesore or redecorate the rest of your house. Most people redecorate their houses, which forces them to spend another few thousand dollars.

It's hard to know exactly how your staircase will look in your house — a drawing doesn't capture the color, lighting and other considerations. However, you can use swatches, paint chips, fabric and other materials to get an idea of the appearance. Take the rest of your home into consideration when you design a staircase. Evaluate the colors, room layout, home decor, carpeting, wallpaper and anything else that influences the staircase's design.

If the rest of your house has a minimalist look, you probably don't want an elaborate staircase with carved banisters and colorful runners that look like something out of a museum. Similarly, if your house features neutral colors, you don't want a staircase painted a bright shade of red. You could design your own staircase if you have expert design skills and a good eye for color, but this might also be a good time to hire a professional designer.

3. Don't Forget That Your House Has Different Lighting

That paint color looked perfect in the store, so you bought three gallons and took it home to paint your stairs. Unfortunately, the color looks completely different when the paint dries. The lighting in your house is much different from the lighting in the store, as stores typically use bright fluorescent lights. Now you're stuck repainting your stairs or figuring out a way to cover up the shade.

Before you get to work, bring the paint chips home and see how they look in different lighting. The color might vary in daytime, afternoon and evening light. If you plan on using carpet, tile or runners, bring samples home whenever possible. They might take on a totally different shade when they enter your house. Plus, bringing home samples makes it easier to see if the carpet or tile matches the rest of your home's decor.

The artificial lighting in your house can also make a big difference. If you plan on replacing your lights, you might not want to redo the stairs until the contractor has installed the new lighting. This also goes for different light bulbs — some bulbs are bright white, while others cast a yellowish shade over your stairs.

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