Thursday, October 13, 2011

Swedish Stairs Will Be The Death Of Me

My little Swedish family and I moved to the ultimate Svensson dream home a few years ago. It is a little row house, as Swedish as Swedish can be. In many other places (read: the USA) this type of row house might be viewed as more tenement style living, very boxy, bland and boring and probably not in the best part of town. But here it is a rare find as it is a rental, is large, and is conveniently located.

It also has a killer staircase.

Swedish staircases are by nature more roundy and twisty. They also tend to have free standing individual steps, which means you can see down to the ground between each step. Not only does this make me queasy as I have an extreme fear of heights, it also freaks the crap out of our dog, who will only go down/upstairs when commanded to do so.

I live in fear of the day Little Swede will have to navigate these stairs on his own. Hell I lived in fear those early weeks when he was a teeny tiny thing that I was responsible for carrying up and down those stairs.

The staircase is also the only place I can really honestly say 'God I miss carpeting.' Because on a staircase, a carpet means traction. And really, traction on a staircase, is pretty essential.

I say this because I am the klutz who stupidly sprained her ankle while running up the stairs to get my crying child due to lack of traction. My Swedish staircase left me stuck on the sofa for two weeks, not being able to carry Little Swede. So yes, there is a bit of resentment there.

From an architectural standpoint I would say Swedish staircases are certainly a bit more practical, as they take up less space, and also visually quite pleasing. I, however, have always been one of those silly individuals who prefers comfort and ease over design and beauty (and it totally shows in my wardrobe).

I guess a compromise might be to carpet the stairs that we have. But God, what would the neighbors say?  


  1. I had those stairs in the first house we owned when I got married, and hated them. I had each tread wrapped in carpet, but I didn't have the piece of wood underneath each tread that I can see in your photo. I think that would be tricky to wrap. Maybe each step would need a strip of carpet edging front and back just underneath the edges.

    But - it was so much better afterwards. The whole house felt quieter and warmer. Surely the neighbours would like a quieter house? No toddler noise of clumping up and down the stairs?

  2. I live in a house in England that was sent over flatpack from Sweden as a thank you gift for our help during WWII. We don't have stairs with gaps underneath them but they do twist at the bottom and can be a bit of a death trap when you've had a few to drink! Not many other houses in England seem to twist at all so it's definitely an unusual feature here!

  3. Hahaha! I just found your blog and LOVE it!!!! So fun to read about Swedes and Sweden and Swedish stuff from another point of view!!! :-D
    Would it be ok if I link to your blog from mine? I will definitely come back and read more!!!
    Also can I ask you your nationality? are you American??? For how long have you been living i Sweden? Just curious... :-)
    Well about staircases, I must say I guess most Swedes are really used to this type so we don´t even think of them as non-practical? ;-)

  4. Great blog!
    Just get you some of this and use:

  5. We have twisty Swedish stairs but we carpeted them! But that twist in the top nearly gives me a heart attack every time, especially holding my newborn.

  6. @janerowena - hmmm good point about that weird part underneath. Have to look around for other options for coverings perhaps. The Swede thinks carpeting is a dirty word :)

    @acidfairy - that's crazy about your house. Really interesting. Were there a lot of houses sent over then? Ha, yeah, I have a hard time negotiating the stairs while sober, I think if I were too intoxicated I would just crash on the sofa.

    @saltistjejen - Hej och velkommen! Of course you can link to mine, I just popped over and took a look at your blog as well and really enjoyed it. Can't say I'm from NYC exactly, but am from the 'burbs so it was fun to see the city through your eyes.

    @Think we might need to do something similar - hope your little guy is doing well!

  7. Yes this kind of staircase is so Swedish. Right now we live in an apartment so we don´t have any stairs but I do still miss the american staricase we had. Actually I miss carpeting more than I ever imagined I would. When I first moved to the US I hated having carpeting upstairs and in our master bedroom but now I actually miss it. Carpeting in the stairs is traction and also it hurts less if you do fall in the stairs to have something soft to land on.
    It is just so cute that you call your son Little Swede. That is just the custest.
    Have a nice Friday!

  8. I just found your blog through Desiree so thought I should say hi :-). I have read a few of your recent blog entries now and find myself nodding in agreement to a lot of the things you write. Only thing is, I am Swedish but live abroad (Bristol, England to be more precise). But thirteen years of living abroad has made me realise some things about sweden that I took completely for granted when I lived there, but now find rather strange.

    Your post about Max really made me smile as my English husband often have commented about the fact that Swedish childrens literature is so different from the english one. English books are all about teaching the kids something while swedish ones often are a bit naughty (but yes busig is probably a better word to use ;-)).

    Its really fun for me as a foreigner in the UK to read your thoughts about being a foreigner in my home country. I am sometimes not sure where I belong anymore. In both countries perhaps!?

    Have a lovely weekend! Millan

  9. Thanks! i have put a link to your blog now. :-) And I´m happy you enjoyed mine as well.
    Have a great weekend now and please take it slow in your stairs!