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Loft Ladder Alternatives

Updated February 21, 2017

A loft needs easy access, whether it is a platform in a high-ceilinged studio, a converted attic, or a full mezzanine in an industrial space conversion. You may not envision yourself scrambling up a ladder every time you want to reach the office or retire for the night. Or there may be no room for a ladder in your multipurpose space. If you need a flexible alternative, look to Japanese furniture, traditional libraries, or contemporary sculpture for ideas.

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Space-Saving Staircase

Space-saving staircases are completely adjustable, allowing you to configure the access to your space without needing a custom-made staircase. Space-saving staircases are constructed on a steel interlocking base, bolted at top and bottom, and self-supported for the length of the stair. The space beneath them remains completely free. They are slightly steeper than a normal stair, and have treads designed to maximise use of limited space and the tighter slant. These stairs come with a handrail which makes them safer and more reassuring than open, steep, high-concept stairs that are sculpturally beautiful but may be slightly alarming to use.

Rolling Library Ladder

A classic library ladder on wheels and a track can be an ideal solution to loft access. A library ladder has the compact, close-to-the-wall footprint of a regular wall-bolted ladder, but the track means it can be easily repositioned to allow the use of more of the loft's space. If the loft sits on top of bookshelves, the library ladder has a double utility. If the best entry point for the loft happens to be over the door to the downstairs bathroom--no problem, just scramble up and move the ladder to free the door. One minor disadvantage to a rolling ladder is shared residence with a practical joker. It would be prudent to design a retrieval system that works from above when the ladder has been moved from below.

Tansu Chest Steps

A typical tansu chest is a piece of furniture made of "stair-stepped" cabinets that are used for storage and displaying collections on each of the levels. A solidly made tansu is a perfect staircase to a loft, and has the virtue of hiding some of your stuff at the same time. If you have a full-height loft, you'll need a carpenter to make a tansu that is tall enough for your space. The tansu can be as wide as you like, so using it without a rail is no problem unless the loft is home to small children.

Alternating Tread Staircase

An alternating tread staircase is a stunning, contemporary take on a regular staircase, and looks amazing--and somewhat intimidating. The stairs are foot-sized platforms bolted to a central post. You step on one side, step up to the next platform with the opposite foot and continue to alternate sides all the way to the top. It works better if you don't think about it too much. The platforms are attached at every other space; the staircase has the pitch of a slanted ladder and is very compact; there is generally no handrail. Rock climbers and loft-living trend setters love them.

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About the Author

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .

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