Bespoke staircase specialist Bisca was commissioned to create a new feature timber flight for a 400-year-old Devonshire shippon (cow shed). The brief was for a stair that would immediately look like part of the existing architecture, complementing the building’s humble provenance.
Bisca’s design team took inspiration from the space’s undulating wall finishes and the natural curve of its English oak beams. Over the passage of time these timbers have aged beautifully, now featuring fissures and twists as well as carrying the characterful marks of wear and tear from agricultural use.
Today, most oak used in staircases is kiln or air dried to bring the moisture content down and prevent movement in situ. Green oak, on the other hand, goes through a dramatic aging process – but it was the ideal choice to blend with the setting. Bisca chose locally harvested English wood for its attractive grain, which adds to the rustic appearance.
The treads were hand carved and stacked to form a sweeping, breath-taking sculptural flight. The upper treads cantilever out from the wall, while the lower versions spiral into a graceful helix.
In keeping with the bespoke build, Bisca’s blacksmith hand-forged tapered balusters, which have been capped with a manually-stitched, leather-clad handrail. The entire flight integrates beautifully into the architecture – not least where the iron rails appear to run through the existing oak beam. And best of all, as the years pass the new timber will take on even more character and merge into the original architecture.