Contemporary Black and Brass Stair | Wellesley, MA

Staircase

Architect:

Curl Simitis Architecture + Design

Builder:

David Walsh Builders

Project Overview:

A study in contrasts, this stair marries blackened steel rails in mesmerizing geometric shapes with a polished brass handrail and anchors it all with wooden treads hewn from reclaimed barn beams supported by a structural steel mono-stringer.

In a new, contemporary property situated in an eclectic, yet predominately traditional, Massachusetts suburb, this blackened steel and brass staircase design is perfectly at home. A study in contrasts conceived by Curl Simitis Architecture + Design, this stair marries blackened steel rails in mesmerizing geometric shapes with a polished brass handrail and anchors it all with wooden treads hewn from reclaimed barn beams supported by a structural steel mono-stringer. The entire structure brings together both old and new, polished and rough, into an eye-catching piece that ties in perfectly with the rest of the home, which is studded with black and brass elements throughout.

The deep black finish of the steel rails and stair stringer were achieved by sandblasting the metal and then treating it with a patina solution. The brass handrail was carefully polished, and all elements received a durable clear coat to protect their finishes before being brought to the property for installation.

The Modern Metal team worked with the builder to develop a plan to securely support and attach the staircase to eliminate any bounce that could have resulted from its unique mono-stringer design.

“While the mono-stringer design offered the open feel the designer and homeowner desired, we wanted to ensure that the stair was solidly supported and felt secure whenever anyone walked on it,” comments Chris Aubrey of Modern Metal Solutions.

“The ninety degree turn in the stair offered some challenges, but in collaborating with the builder, we were able to provide a solution that met both the visual and structural goals of the project.”

In addition to the careful consideration given to attaching the stair to the structure of the home, different installation treatments were given to the varied elements of the stair to accentuate the contrasts. To further emphasize the rugged and industrial look of the structural steel stringer, this piece was attached using exposed bolts and connections, while the railings and handrail were attached using minimal welds and seams to maintain the more polished and seamless look of those elements.   

“While the stair looks simple, there are many small details that go into giving it the final, overall appearance that was desired,” continues Chris.

The clean, geometric elements of the stair railings were echoed in the smooth and angular fireplace shroud and matching woodbox. Both constructed of the same blackened steel, the pieces continued the black and brass theme found in various elements throughout the house including a custom bunk bed frame and ladder constructed of blackened steel that was also commissioned by the owners. 

This project was typical of many that Modern Metal now works on, filled with heavy collaboration across many elements of the project that fall well outside the scope of a typical metal fabricator. 

When asked how he felt about working outside the traditional scope of a metal fabricator, Chris responded, “Honestly, I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s what keeps these projects interesting, and it’s one of the reasons so many of our partners love to work with us.”