Technically speaking, the term spiral staircaseis a misnomer, with so-called ‘spiral’ stairs actually being helical stairs, due to the widening/tightening format of spirals as they curve (though this name doesn’t have quite the same ring!).
Although these staircases are nowadays chosen for their aesthetics, the spirals had a much more practical function when they first came about back in the Middle Ages. The narrow corkscrew design made it impossible for attackers to swarm castles, with the clockwise turn a particular disadvantage to right-handers, who were forced to fight with their left.
Today, these staircases are still relished for their narrow format, particularly popular in smaller homes with limited floor space. By providing more light and less shadow than normal staircases, spiral stairs cleverly maximise the appearance of space and give smaller homes a sense of grandeur.
With the amount of loft conversions ever-increasing, spiral staircases have found their niche providing access to spaces unreachable by traditional staircases. Furthermore, the huge choice of materials out there – including Victorian-style wrought iron and contemporary glass – enables homeowners to transform these practical stairs into a statement feature.
Details: from bespoke staircase makers Bisca, with prices starting from £18,000, or find spiral staircase kits at The Loft Centre from £588.