Singing Stairs

An old city park tree turned into a staircase for a musical family.

This birch tree was nearing at least 100 years, when it was removed from the local park and recreational area Ilosaari in the city of Joensuu – the location where the notable music festival Ilosaarirock originated in the 1970’s.

So when a family of avid singers and musicians ordered new stairs from us, we suggested this material that has truly soaked in the local music history. The answer was an excited “yes, totally” – so we set out to choose the planks with the most vivid grain. Older birch typically shows the dark heartwood figures that dance beautifully on the planks.

Actually this project was more like a staircase renovation in a hillside house, where we moved the staircase to another corner to make the space more usable. Sami from Pesälän Paja made the metal frame for the stairs as well as the thin metal spindles, to which we fitted the wooden steps and the handrail.

Each step has been made from solid wood, not glued laminated timber, like many times. Solid wood makes the otherwise light staircase look sturdy in use. We milled a groove on the front edges and attached a baby gate with an additional fitted piece, so it can be easily removed when the time comes 🙂

The birch planks were treated with nature’s ingredients: sodium bicarbonate, aka. baking soda. It reacts with the woods and “deepens” the color but doesn’t make it yellowish. After the baking soda treatment, we applied a layer of natural oil wax.

The end result is a light-structured staircase where the natural wood is in the spotlight – with all its grain figures and different shades that the sodium bicarbonate highlights. The light handrail doesn’t block the view from the windows – and most importantly, there is now more space to gather around the fireplace, roast marshmallows, surrounded by music, of course 🙂

Design: Miikka Kotilainen
Woodwork: Woodartist
Metalwork: Sami Hyvärinen | Pesälän Paja
Photos: Joona Kotilainen | Tovari Marketing