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Sneak Peek: Brookline Stair Risers

At our mid-century-modern project, there’s a whole lot of climbing going on

With eight different levels spread among three floors, the mid-century-modern project in Brookline, MA, presents multiple opportunities for Tom Silva to share his skill and wisdom about getting a set of stairs just right. And even though the house’s split levels may require just a short run of stairs (three steps up from kitchen to family room, for example, and five steps up from kitchen to bedrooms), much care must be taken with the riser height.

For the run of seven steps from the family room up to the loft, Tom enlisted Kevin O’Connor’s help to calculate the riser height and measure and cut the stair stringers. “We made the riser height 7½ inches, and all the risers have to be the same,” says Tom. “The riser height can not vary by more than 3/8 inch over the total run of the stairway. Ideally, you want a stairway to have risers measuring somewhere between 7 and 8 inches, as that’s the most comfortable height for people to climb.”

Although the house’s many levels, half-story wings, and sunken (basement-level) garage are all hallmarks of mid-century-modern style, Kevin sees things in a more pragmatic way: “There’s a lot of stairs here!”