Is There A Code-Compliant Chic Staircase Railing?

I am sorry I couldn’t finish the post from Sunday, but as promised, here is the rest.

If you’ve read part 1 please click the link below. Otherwise, if just landing here, please begin from the top of the post.


Part 2 Begins Here

The beginning of the post starts here.


I am sad to say that I had to go back to the drawing board regarding the staircase guard and handrail design. (This post is from April 2022!)


While I originally learned decades ago that the 4″ maximum opening was code for staircases, I read somewhere recently that it was five inches, so I thought perhaps they (whoever “they” is) had come to their senses.


But no, it is 4 inches for every opening above the hypotenuse of the riser and stair triangle.


In that triangle where the stair riser meets the tread, the rule is a maximum ball of six inches can fit through if there’s a diagonal rail in the staircase design.


Here, let me show you a diagram.


six ball allowance stair tread only


Okay. They are concerned about a young child getting their head caught in an opening.

By the time a baby can crawl, say at 6.5 months, the smallest a baby’s head is over 5.2″ in diameter. I’m a lot more worried about the baby falling down the top of the stairs.

However, a very small dog might be able to fit through that 5.5″ opening at the bottom of the rail where you see the 6″ ball. According to the code, that’s okay, but all other openings must be 4 inches.



stairs doors railing open stringer glassless handrail modified X railing - code compliant


That is why I did the design I love and decided to put in glass which I decided about two weeks ago that I hated.

Above was my solution with the assumption I could go as large as 4.99″ for the openings. Alas, I can’t.


And since I do not wish to add more spokes or squares to my X design, I decided to take another stab at an alternative.


***For those who haven’t read the numerous posts surrounding the stair railing, please know I’ve spent countless hours exploring zillions of other options.


The frustrating part is that many designs look fantastic going down the stairs but are not so great for the guardrail sitting in the back of the living room.


I want a code-compliant chic staircase railing, one with enough interest to not look like a cage, and ideally, it should be a design someone might find in the 19th century.


***Please note that I’m not looking for ideas, and that’s because I found what I was looking for.

I hope!


I don’t know what search term I used or where I saw it, (probably Pinterest), but the first image was quite small and didn’t indicate its source.

great stair railing design


So, I did a reverse image search and quickly discovered it was part of the beloved PBS series Upstairs/Downstairs.

Raise your hand if, between 1971 and 1975, like me, you LIVED for Sunday evenings and the show’s next installment. Well, I did. I was 14 or 15 when the show began. However, I remember the characters so distinctly, I can’t believe it’s been 50 years! The original show spanned the period between 1902-1930.
I didn’t realize that a sequel to the show set a few years later, in the mid-1930s, was made and ran for one year in 2010.


The image I found was from the 2010 sequel.


Let’s take a look at the staircase from the 2010 show. I found a much better image. (below)


upstairs downstairs staircase railing

The railing is black iron with antique gold accents and small antique gold rosettes on the balusters. The design is interesting but, not too formal or busy. It’s actually quite simple. Perfect. I’m not looking to make a bold design statement with this element. But I do want a chic staircase railing.

However, it’s from the 2010 show, so maybe it’s just something dreamed up by a set designer.


But, here’s what else I learned that makes me think it might be the real thing.


The show was set at the fictional address of 165 Eaton Place in the posh Belgravia section of London. Eaton Place exists, but there’s no 165. The clever producers did use 65 Eaton Place for the exterior shots of the elegant neo-classical townhouse. They pasted on a one for the shoots to make it 165 Eaton Place.

The interiors were shot in a studio.

But, here’s what’s really cool.

The same staircase railing was in the original series! Yes, here it is!!!

So, it’s at least from 1971!


Still, is it authentic to the 19th century?


I can’t say for certain. However, I looked up 65 Eaton Place in London and learned on the website


“The property at 65 Eaton Place, meanwhile, was apparently part of a development built in 1824 by renowned builder Thomas Cubitt on the orders of the 2nd Marquess of Westminster, Richard Grosvenor.”


Of course, that still doesn’t let us know if the show’s set designer used an authentic period of the home railing.

I will put my money on what it is, and even if it’s not, it’s beautiful and could easily be adapted to suit my staircase.

So, I got to work.

staircase side view


I began by uploading a side view of my staircase to picmonkey.


Superimposed Picmonkey editor staircase Upstairs Downstairs
And then I added the cropped image on top of my image. You can temporarily make the top image translucent to see where to place it. And by golly, I didn’t have to work very hard. I only had to squeeze the image a little.

staircase design - white walls
Next, I removed the background from the top image and covered the under-stairs mess.

Hmmm… I love the chic staircase railing, but the white walls aren’t doing it for me.


But, before working more on this one, I better deal with the upstairs.

And, here is where I hit an even bigger snag.

Like the TV show, the heavy drama usually happened upstairs.

guard rail that's just okay

Um, no. That repetition is making me a little cuckoo.

And I tried numerous variations.

But, finally, I hit on the one that makes me love this design for the guardrail, too.


Alas, that’s all the time we have today…


Laurel, WHAT???????? You can’t leave us hanging like that!


Oh, I’m terribly sorry! ;] But, please don’t stress yourselves too much.


***I did work it all out. I just don’t want to stay up until 4:00 AM writing about my solution for a code-compliant chic staircase railing. However, I can’t wait for you to see it. As much as I loved the X design, I love this new design just as much, if not more.

Please stay tuned for Monday evening; we’ll see the FINISHED design upstairs [and] downstairs. Haha.



Part 2 Begins Here


Let’s back up a sec. I think I need to put back the teal walls.

new stair railing ala upstairs-downstairs 2010
I added my black and white floor.

LOVE! Except it looks like an AI photo with the railing just ending in mid-air. lol. Of course, I could’ve just cropped it.

But, first, I need to work on the upstairs guardrail.

And, here is where I hit a snag. (which is in part 1)


guard rail that's just okay

Ummm… no.


The motif goes side-by-side with 3.75″ of space between each panel. However, the repetition was making me a little cuckoo. It’s not terrible, but it wasn’t giving me the same joy as the staircase railing.

I searched and searched for the balcony.


Upstairs Downstairs super small image guardrail


There is one, but the best I could find is this very blurry small file. I could not find a larger version of it. I’m sure if I rented the series, it would pop up. It does look like the panels are a little further than four inches apart.

I tried many iterations with one, two, or three plain or decorative spindles in between the rectangular panel motif. None of them looked right.


It needed something. Let’s try a border.


Well, there’s only one border I would ever want to do. It’s the one I’m always afraid of doing too much of, but there isn’t one anyway in sight.

So, I added a Greek Key border and then added one plain spindle between the panels to give them some breathing room.

Oh, wow! What a difference!


Uhhhh, Laurel, can we see it?


Yes, of course. However, I need to preface it with I prefer the Greek Key havelock-style meander pattern (on top) to the more common Greek Key meander. (on the bottom). That is, in this case.


havelock meander pattern

typical Greek Key meander pattern


However, I looked for hours and hours and could not find the havelock meander in cast iron, steel, or any metal. And, there don’t even seem to be a lot of sources for the regular Greek Key meander.

How can that be? It’s a popular and classic design element. Of course, my steel guy, Jerry, will have sources I can’t find online. (I hope.)


So, let’s take a look at what I created to begin with.


code compliant and chic guard rail for new stairwell havelock greek key border

I love the way the plain balusters line up with the pattern.

What do you think?

I also created a version with the typical meander border.

code compliant chic guard rail traditional Greek Key border


I could live with this. I also made the first baluster a little heavier.


Wait, there are more changes.


code-compliant chic guard rail traditional Greek Key border antique gold handrail - Anglo-Indian sconces(1)


I made a separate small newel post and added a handrail with a volute. (ala the Mass State House, below) I don’t mind it going on the open side of the staircase all the way down.


brass handrail Massachusetts State House Senate Chamber


Mervin asked in the comments if the handrail could be a straight shot, and the answer was yes>


Straight run staircase new door opening

There is no jogging out. The 36″ measurement is for the stairs and stairwell. I believe the handrails can stick out about 2.5 inches on either side. I’d have to double-check that. But do I feel like it? haha

The image is a little distorted because of the wide-angle lens. The cell phone makes the space look deeper than it is.

But, looky, looky! The new doorway is COMPLETE! The guys couldn’t come today because they had to do some other work ahead of the snowstorm coming our way. You can see where the mason began to brick up the old opening. Everything to the right of that is the new doorway. But, the finished opening is only 26 inches. They did an amazing job!

Of course, they’re not finished. They have to finish bricking up the old doorway. Then remove the old door and put it in the new doorway. And finally, brick up the old egress doorway and all the rest. It will look like it was always this way.


Laurel, don’t tell me you have to pay for the bricking up of the old doorway you didn’t know about.


Okay, I won’t tell you I have to pay for that. ;] It’s the least of my problems.

But what about the staircase railing? Don’t you need to change that now?


That’s a terrific question, so let’s look at that.

First, because the tread is 9″ from nosing to nosing, there isn’t room for the panel with one spindle.

And yes, we could add the Greek Key border, which will add to the expense, but I don’t think is necessary.

My feeling is because of the restrictions, and that the configurations are inherently different, they don’t have to be the same. Of course, they need to coordinate. Therefore, I’m fine with coordinating the two designs, but with some differences. They’re like siblings but not identical twins.


Laurel, what about the wooden handrail? Would you do that?


Yes, I love it, and it’s stunning. However, I think it might feel a little too austere in my place. I would be happy to have a cast metal handrail with a spiral end over the rounded step.


iron railing spiral - Boston - Beacon Hill

It is like this but without the ball final.

So, guys. This is why I couldn’t finish the post Saturday evening. I had to go back and clean up and edit the stair image considerably. It took hours.

However, here it is, sage walls and all.


new stair railing design inspired by upstairs-downstairs (2010)

I did keep in a little unfinished wood, nails sticking out and all. Sorry, I had to squeeze beautiful Keeley. My stair treads are less deep than the grand staircase in the show.


So, what else is going on here?


Sadly, I don’t think we can do wallpaper because the electrical panel door sticks out too much. Therefore, I might put the screen (it’s larger than this) on the opposite wall downstairs instead of upstairs. It’s only sitting here so we can see the colors which I love!

Also, my lanterns do not have the Greek Key border because I went with some vintage bell jar lanterns I found on Chairish.

Gosh, I love this! In fact, I think I love it more than the X pattern.

Still, something’s missing.


Hang on a sec, please…


new stair handrail design inspired by upstairs-downstairs (2010) my face

There, that’s better. ;]

Oh, man! You guys kept me hopping yesterday. (Sunday) Three or four of you mentioned how sad you were that I didn’t put my face on top of beautiful Keeley Hawes’s face. Well, duhhhhhhh, ;] of course I did!!! I just couldn’t post it because it needed to come at the end of the post. The face transplant alone takes a ridiculous amount of time.

Anyway, I love my new code-compliant chic staircase railing, and I love the sage-y teal-green.

Okay, that’s all for this evening.

Please stay tuned for a big renovation update.

Snow Day here in Boston. Please stay safe, everyone!



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76 Responses

  1. Did you ever figure out your railing for your stairs? Did you consider attaching plexiglass glass simply for the inspection? You could remove later.

  2. Sorry Laurel, never mind about the spacing on the horizontal railing – it is there, my mistake. Actually, there are two where the stair rail has one. All looks good.

  3. The discussion about the Greek key just confirms “to each her own.” I’m glad you found a code compliant solution the you love. I personally love it better than to X style. Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope you eat some chocolate.

  4. I LOVE the new rail design and agree with the others about not including the Greek key. IMHO the Greek key takes away from the beautiful, “elegant simplicity” of the rest of the design. I think adding a tone on tone Greek key trim to the arm chairs (or pillows/cushions on them) you plan on placing in front of the guard rail would be more effective and elegant, and a less glaring addition of the Greek Key to the space. I think the verticality of the guard rail without the horizontal Greek Key addition also makes the guard rail less of a focal element to your room.

  5. I like the addition of the Greek Key. I prefer the havelock style but both look good. I love the addition of a metal baluster with the finial. Of course, small details make the whole stair case even lovelier—the Greek Key etching on the stairwell chandelier. This feels so elegant and I can totally imagine descending the stairs, holding onto the cool metal banister.

  6. I love that new railing! Very pretty! And I love the sage green color on the wall…do you know the name of a color that equates to the color in the pic?

  7. I love the new design, with our without the Greek key border. However, I simply adored your wallpaper, does this mean it’s a no go? I can envision you sauntering down the stairs at night to go to bed with the beautiful original wallpaper surrounding you. A screen that you’ve had for awhile leaning against the wall can’t give the same thrill.
    That being said, you do you. I’ll imagine the wallpaper from before.

  8. I love it! And yes, I love the Greek key element, especially the Havelock meander. So classic yet chic :] I do admit that the thought of keeping it dust-free doesn’t thrill me, but I live in the Arizona desert where everything is dusty and hour after cleaning! Your home is gorgeous, Laurel. All your hard work is paying off!

  9. I am team ‘keep the Greek Key’ element. It gives a bit of piquant structure to the art nouveau lines. And the sage-teal green walls are perfect. I have been struggling for months to find the right color to paint my north-facing living room/library and I think you have found the perfect color for me.

  10. The new railing is lovely, but not the Greek Key. Just no. Too much distraction……..too many elements. Like too much jewelry.
    It absolutely loses the beautiful simplicity.

  11. I love love it! All of it. The Greek key design is just right for your upstairs. The volute is wonderful. The railing will look so on point.
    I think this suits the space better than your original design which struck me as too open, fighting with the woodwork. Like two divas singing dueling arias.
    This one looks like a beautiful supporting frame to me, a perfect counterpoint to your moulding. You really know how to turn lemons into lemonade!

  12. The latest set of design elements are beautiful both separately and as a cohesive design. Love the Greek key, touch of gold, green walls, and scale. Thank you for sharing. It’s wonderful what you have done…. Quite a way since the jury box !

  13. Love the new stair railing design as shown in inspiration photo, but not crazy about the extra rail you inserted in between the design. It makes it too busy and you lose the design. Love the greek key.

  14. Sorry, One more thing….Your getting some flack about the Greek Key Pattern I adore the Have Lock. The whole thing together reminds me of an extra rich border on a fabulous custom frame. Swooning. I also love the deep, dark, wood hand rail. It has a beautiful patina and adds warmth with all the iron. Ok, carry on amazing lady!!

  15. I absolutely love the new stair rail, actually better than the first one. But not crazy about the Greek key, to me it takes away from the beauty of the rail itself. Do you have to add it?

  16. Just want to reiterate what Therese said – the design is different – in the original there are no horizontal pieces connecting the 2 “panels”, the panels stand separate. I do think that makes a big difference. Either way, your choices are always beautiful and well reasoned!

  17. I see an argument between the ‘gorgeous’ new railing design and the Greek Key. Remember, Coco Chanel’s advice. “Take something off before you leave the house”

  18. If anyone can make lemonade out of lemons it’s you. Your designs just keep getting better with each roadblock you’ve come to. Do your shoulders lower a bit when these problems get resolved?
    And you look beautiful sitting on your new staircase. You have the best smile!

  19. Denise took the words right out of my mouth, “I love the simple elegance of the new staircase railing, minus the Greek key border which is a bit much and takes away from the elegant railing.”
    Is it just me or does the new railing design (sans Greek key) appear to be Art Deco?

  20. There is an elegance to this new design but sadly, I had a big NO reaction to the addition of the Greek key border. For me, it overwhelms and conflicts with the beautiful arcs and rosettes. Less is more and it leaves room for your other statement touches.

  21. Hi Laurel,
    Well done. Check out I grew up with Ron and he did all my horse barn stall posts and grills here in Lancaster. He’s an amazing craftsman and person. You will love. Tell him I sent you.

  22. Your new railing and guardrail design excites me. The changes you have made to the guardrail made a huge difference. Eliminating the extra legs and extending them in two places in the GK, gives separation. I like the Greek Key but the photos make me feel like the guardrail is still begging for a heavier wooden cap over the top of it. Could you use the same one as you are for the handrail? It would draw the guardrail and railing down the stairs together, too. I like how the dark wooden handrail accents the stair treads and both compliment the ironwork beautifully. The cap would do the same thing with the floor in your living room. My other question is whether you must have a handrail on both sides of the stairway. Where I live, the code only requires a handrail on one side of the stairs in a private residence. I think it would be much prettier if you don’t have to hang one on the opposite wall and it g make your stairs feel wider, too.

  23. I love everything about the staircase, except the Greek key. I think that will be too much and way too busy. I think it would take the focus off the railing and anything you might put on wall there. I also don’t think I’m a fan of a metal handrail. I think wood is much warmer and also wouldn’t take away from the rest of the look. Too many elements would confuse “my” eyes. Simple and elegant would be gorgeous!

  24. That’s beautiful. I far prefer it to the old design. And I love the way the curves make lozenge shapes on the horizontal section. About the Greek key, if it’s in iron your fabricator just needs to make a jig. It should be bread and butter to him though I know they prefer to buy components in. (Staircase railings are a pain. We spent months and months designing ours. It was worth getting right. It makes the whole house.)

  25. I love the design without the greek meander.
    It adds a design element that distracts from what I believe is already perfect.

  26. Hi Laurel,

    I would agree the “newel post” at the top needs to be beefed up a bit for the aesthetics – to make the railing look intentional and to give it a more solid presence. Will the protrusion extending laterally at the top of the handrail shown in the rendering be a coat and purse grabber?

    Did you try the same railing pattern used for the stairs as for the horizontal railing – the horizontal doesn’t have the space between the sections. Too busy maybe?

    Have you looked into having the Greek Key design or whatever design chosen – cut out of steel by the water jetting process?

    There are many styles of wood handrails – big, small, round, shaped. Glad you at least considered them. Seems metal would be more austere? The picture shown above of the spiral handrail was of an exterior application. Used inside, wouldn’t it be steely every time you touch it?

    Just thinking…

    Many thanks, – Bill

  27. I love the new metal panels with the rosettes for your railing, much more than the X one. But when I saw your diagram with the thin metal hand rail, it looked to me like it needed something heavier on top instead. In fact you achieved that when you added the Greek Key piece to it. Personally I think this extra removes the simplicity and style of what you’re after. Plus that Greek Key would be a hassle to dust!

    So I looked back at the photo of the balcony and saw that they used that beautiful wooden handrail across the whole balcony and all the way down the stairs. That handrail is gorgeous and isn’t it historically correct? It adds warmth and contrast to all that metal, which can possibly come across as stark and cold. Also it provides more to grip for the hands when using it. These are just my observations and maybe you did consider the wooden handrail but dismissed it for your own reasons. I hope I haven’t stepped on your toes with my comments, but this is the way I see it. However, I’m not the decorator you are. Your duplex is going to be amazing when you are all done. I just wish for your sake that things were moving along faster.

  28. I love the simple elegance of the new staircase railing, minus the Greek key border which is a bit much and takes away from the elegant railing.

  29. Just beautiful! It’s going to be a gorgeous jewel box. I wish there was way to recess that electrical panel. Or maybe lower it on the wall so it sits within the paneling. I REALLY wanted that wallpaper!

  30. Your new designs for the stair rail are stunning. As for the Greek key upstairs, it serves as a definite ‘underscore’ for the wall art which I appreciate. Well done as always Laurel! Can only imagine how beautiful the snow will be in your neighborhood.

  31. Bingo!

    I love your comment – siblings, not twins. And I suspect a person designing your house back in the day would have chosen something just like it…this design suits the rest, even if late to the party.

    I’m not loving the Greek key on the top, but I suspect I will come around. And I did think “kites,” as soon as another reader pointed it out, would fight with the overall “feel”… almost like the wrong jewelry with an outfit. Which is why the Greek key has me puzzled…I’d rather see it on a drapery panel, not sharing the stage with the railing.

    But, I’m willing to wait for the next part of This is the House that Laurel Built. 😉

    Stay warm up there in Boston…brrrr!

  32. I absolutely LOVE the new stair bannister plan. It is BEAUTIFUL! I’m so glad that you ran into roadblocks with the other rail and were led to this “new” design to compensate. It’s perfect!

  33. Absolutely gorgeous! AND perfect!!! Makes me want to change my oak “builder” *(aka, ugly) stair railing! I ❤️❤️❤️

  34. If you are going to include the Greek key, lose the rosette. But I am unclear as to what the appearance will be once the railing which will be visible from the living room side on the run down the stairs will look like. I never liked the rosette that much anyhow.

    It would seem that the Greek key will cost a considerable amount?

    And yes, I like this much better than the x design although I came to see it as beautiful in the right space.

  35. No. The greek key is too much! The railings in the image are perfect. I think you’re missing an important detail in the original. It’s difficult to describe without being able to share an image… The straight (vertical) balusters extend all the way to the rail. That horizontal bar under the rail does not extend uninterrupted. The horizontal bits are only above the decorative inserts. That differentiating height give the visual break you are needing. Kind of like this ||x||x||x||

  36. I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t photo shop your face onto the girl-on-the-stairs’ body. 😉 Excited to see the finished product!!!

  37. Like the previous poster said it’s very Art Noveau, very turn of the century ‘viennese’. It reminds me of the stunning brass & black ironworks we’ve seen when we stayed at the Gresham Palace in Budapest (Four Seasons hotel) which is one of the most magnificent Art Nouveau buildings built at the beginning of the 1900s, both the stunning exterior and interiors with its original ironworks, tinted mosaic windows, swirling staircases are magnificent. I agree, this is a very refined, sophisticated staircase. Please check out images of the Gresham Palace, you’ll love it.

  38. I read all the comments and now I’m concerned that I’m the only one seeing martini glasses. To be clear, this is not a negative thing – because I love martinis. ; )

  39. This isn’t a suggestion, only a guess. My guess is you will cut off two-thirds or three-quarters of the army of little legs. Who needs legs, anyway? A remaining question is whether you’ll use a wood railing on top, or stick with your original iron handrail. Maybe all iron was the tradition, but would be interesting to see what a painted wood handrail would look like, too.

  40. I’m going back to your posts about murals and panels in this comment. Have you looked at the site Not to insult your budget, impeccable taste or knowledge, I thought they show some lovely prints in a similar style. The quality may not be comparable, but I’m not an expert. Most of my decor is influenced by my champagne taste and my beer wallet. What ever you choose will be certainly perfect!

  41. Not sure that I care for the arcs.
    Are you going to use cast bronze handrails?
    Not clear but are you going to have to jog the handrail to get it past the stairwell opening or is there enough space for a straight run?
    Is the required width of the stair measured from the inside of the handrail to the opposite wall or can it be measured from the inside face of the baluster to the wall? Love the challenge that codes create. Especially in tight spaces. Best of luck.

  42. I love this new rail design and can’t wait to see what you came up with for upstairs. I was very iffy on the X-rail design previously. It’s gorgeous in many applications, but it was not for me with the way your staircase is set up. The apartment is coming together very beautifully.

  43. Elegant and visually- ‘era’ appropriate – this and your gorgeous kitchen …
    Hoping this fulfills the aesthetic and code…

  44. I love this one! Much better than the most recent almost code compliant X design. I can’t wait to see the guardrail!

  45. I absolutely love this new staircase railing. It looks perfect, not like you are having to make it fit. So simple but so elegant!

  46. While I prefer your more open “airy” one, of course I believe you ‘worked it all out’…and so well. That’s who you are, Miss Laurel Bern!

  47. Very nice substitute. I didn’t want to be negative but after you were forced to redesign the X railing, all I could see were kites going down the stairs. The new design is chic.

  48. Hi Laurel, I recognized Keeley Hawes immediately in the pic you posted. I saw that series when it came out – was wonderful. As is your new design. It is hard to wait for your next post.
    P.S. Am dying to see the how the downstairs is turning out. Will you post pics of the progress soon?

  49. We had to jump through those same hoops and loops for our second stand alone garage. The codes they threw at us were so strict that I am sure they thought I was going to have a day care for deaf and blind babies who were going to crawl up and down the stairs for eight hours a day. We did a lot of things that could later be removed. Passed the final inspection and removed anything temporary. Its just a damn garage that is locked with a security system.

  50. Yes, the staircase section is great, and I think works better than the X design whose lines are somewhat distorted by the incline of the stairs.
    I’ve been looking into Thomas Cubitt, and discover that many of his buildings were designed by his brother, Lewis. Lewis designed (but not before the 1850s) King’s Cross Station, now much re-modelled inside. But the iron frame of the canopy is original, and is painted in a verdigris finish — similar to the background colour of your TV show image..
    Looking at this, I wondered about the upper section of your railing. There are 9 sections with the rosette, and I wondered about keeping every other one (so 5 sections) and doing something else, involving horizontal lines and a circle, in the remaining 4. (Just speculating about the design process!) I await with bated breath your solution for this.
    One observation: Eaton Square has a neo-classical church, St Peter’s, which was rebuilt inside after a fire in the 1980s. Today, the organ loft is protected by a railing which is pretty much exactly your X design. As the building is listed, either the design is the original 1820s one, or was deemed suitable for that date. Pic of said railing on Wikipedia entry for that church.

  51. Hi Laurel,

    I love your Upstairs Downstairs stair bannister! I like it even more than the one you’ve been posting since your new-house project began. The iron curves, the gold rosettes, and something about the use of vertical iron slates between each set of curving pieces, to ground the look is simply beautiful.

    Re: the 4” gap being the maximum width allowable to meet code, in our youth, my husband and I bought an old house with a staircase that had 5” gaps between round wood slats. We knew the stair rail wasn’t to code but thought that the whole code-thing was unnecessarily restrictive

    But—Some friends’ under-3 year old son stuck his head through two of the slats while visiting, and about after an hour of trying to soothe the hysterical little boy, the dads put olive oil all over his head and while one pair of hands tried pulling the slats apart, the other was able to ease his head out. It was terrifying and the child was bruised on both sides of his head. If he’d been on the outside of the stairway instead of sitting on a stair, I think he could have hung himself. It was terrifying for everyone. I still can’t believe that happened. 😬

    Anyway, your new pick is divine! ❤️

  52. This is so much better than the X design which I didn’t like at all. The X had too much negative space. It’s elegant and serious! Can’t wait to see it all in place. The house is beautiful.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
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