While larger cities are bursting at the seams, properties in rural areas are becoming increasingly expensive. More and more people thus need creative ideas to render small homes as comfortable as possible. Even staircases can quickly turn into a nuisance, taking up between five and fifteen square metres on average. Recognising this problem, several companies now came up with something new: retractable folding stairs made for lofts, attics, or tiny houses with galleries. We’ll take a look at three different options – from bi-folding handrails to spiralling drawers.
A German start-up with the telling name raumvonwert (“space of value”) has devised a simple alternative to conventional staircases: foldable stairs that can be placed flat against the wall.
The modular design of this so-called “Klapster” (derived from the German verb “klappen”, i.e. “to flap”) allows you to set up a construction that meets your individual needs. It’s quickly installed or dismantled, so you can easily take your stairs with you in case you are moving house. Each step locks into a side panel at both ends, swivelling by 90 degrees around the integrated rotational axes. With just one smooth action, the stairs are unfolded from the wall – or folded back again. When not in use, the Klapster rests flat against the wall.
Only three centimetres thick, it looks much less intrusive than many standard picture frames. You may also integrate recesses into your wall for a fully flat finish. The folding stairs’ minimalist design can be customised according your personal style: in a colour matching your wallpaper, they will become virtually invisible when folded away. Alternatively, you can turn the Klapster into a bold design statement – with colourful treads, printed graphics, or even graffiti patterns.
Similar to the Klapster, Australian-based company Bcompact offers a side-folding stair system which can be attached to the wall. But their product comes with another special feature: a bi-folding handrail makes it possible to open and close the stairs from the upper or lower end. As the first of its kind, this innovation even earned Bcompact a patent. Customers can also add a patented sprung-closing safety gate, ensuring that the upper end is never left open while stored away.
All of Bcompact’s hybrid folding stairs are handmade and customised. Depending on your requirements, heights may vary between 1.2 and 3.4 metres. The standard width is 715, but narrower variants with only 575 mm are available as well. If you want to install your collapsible stair system outdoors, it will be treated with a suitable finish. Another plus: Bcompact places great value on sustainability. For their product, they use bamboo composite ply – a highly flexible, lightweight, and durable material. After cutting the panels with virtually no waste, any leftovers are collected and recycled.
One more idea to free up living spaces comes from an Italian company called Soluzioni di Ferro (“iron solutions”): what looks like a stack of containers at first glance can be turned and twisted into a spiral staircase – either manually or automatically. The steps then serve as storage compartments for books, shoes, or even wine bottles. If you prefer drawer steps, you can opt for a model with runners and blocks.
The Eclettica folding stairs (a name which translates to “eclectic”) also include a rope handrail for safety purposes. Thanks to a vertical adjustment mechanism, they can fit different ceiling heights.
Their design is equally versatile: you can choose from decorative panels in a variety of colours, or even integrate picture frames or mirrors. Since the spiral stair system consists of a rather complex construction, it will arrive fully finished at your door – no assembly needed.
From mezzanine bedrooms to mobile homes – folding stairs prove useful wherever you’re short on space. Instead of clumsy bunk bed ladders, you can rely on clever installations that are put away in a matter of seconds. Interior enthusiasts won’t have to compromise on aesthetics, either: customisable products allow you to add a finishing touch that will complement your personal style perfectly.
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