You can learn a lot about history by looking around an older house. Charming features like phone niches reveal a lot about the people and technology of bygone days.
If you’ve ever inspected an older staircase, you may have noticed details like brass corner protectors or metal stair rods. Read on to take a closer look at these features, discover their purpose and find staircase ideas for your next DIY project.
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Before vacuum cleaners were invented, sweeping dust out of stair corners was a major headache. Stair corner dust guards were created in the 1890s to help simplify sweeping.
That’s not their only use, though — stair guards also add some charm to wooden staircases. Try adding them to awkward corners in your home, like those between a wall and fireplace molding.
Where to find dust corners: Look for corner guards at specialty retailers like House of Antique Hardware, or order them from Amazon. We also love these star-spangled stair guards on Etsy.
According to The Victorian Emporium, a renovation company specializing in period homes, stair rods were used to help secure runner carpets to wooden staircases.
This distinctive feature was originally about form and function. But these days, stair rods are more of an aesthetic item, since carpet is generally installed by stapling it to the surface below. It’s best for you and your runner that your carpet is properly installed!
Where to find stair rods: Look for stair rods at specialty hardware stores or from rug manufacturers. You can also find them at retailers like Wayfair and Amazon.
One Upside-Down Baluster
A baluster, also called a spindle, is part of a staircase’s support system. They hold up the handrail. If there’s one upside-down baluster on your historic staircase, blame superstition.
While some say builders purposely installed one baluster to acknowledge that “only God’s creations are perfect,” others cite an English superstition that claims an upside-down baluster prevents the devil from climbing the stairs and taking anyone on their deathbed. Either way, this feature seems to be linked to a higher power.