The Block NZ 2012 winner Ben Crawford and his fiancé Kylie are building their dream home. Share their proud moments and pitfalls here every week.

Luckily, Kylie and I share very similar tastes when it comes to architecture and interior design. If we didn't, I'm sure this column would have been a lot more colourful over the past six months.

From the beginning, we've shared the vision of having a set of "floating" stairs in our house. You know the kind; each tread seemingly defying gravity as they rise virtually unsupported to their intended destination.

An unnecessary extravagance some may say, but building gives you the tantalising opportunity to bring your design desires to life.

Since this is our dream home that we're planning to live in for many years, and with only one chance to do it right, we've been determined about building our very own stairway to heaven.

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Mike from Stylecraft Stairways measuring the stairwell before construction of the stairs can begin. Photo / Ben Crawford
Mike from Stylecraft Stairways measuring the stairwell before construction of the stairs can begin. Photo / Ben Crawford

The stairs themselves will be situated in our entry foyer, providing access to our roof-top deck. It's quite a cavernous space and we felt an enclosed set of stairs, though functional, missed an opportunity to create something special - a sculptural work of art that would be a key feature of our home.

When we began scoping out the construction of the staircase, we thought our builders would whip them up for us. Oh the ignorance!

As we discovered, the construction of designer stairs is an art form requiring a set of specialist skills, so we began the hunt for a suitable manufacturer.

After extensive online searches, it became apparent that there are just a handful of companies producing the quality and style of stairs we were after.

One that caught our eye was Wellington-based Stylecraft Stairways because its website's homepage (stylecraftstairs.co.nz) had images of the exact set of stairs we'd been dreaming about.

Kylie testing out a similar set of stairs to ours, recently built by Stylecraft Stairways for a new house in Point Chevalier. Photo / Ben Crawford
Kylie testing out a similar set of stairs to ours, recently built by Stylecraft Stairways for a new house in Point Chevalier. Photo / Ben Crawford

We were initially concerned about the company being in another city, but our doubts were erased when we found out Stylecraft designs, manufactures and installs stairs every week right around the country, with location no longer a barrier in this digital age.

And so began the design process over email and phone, which was just as easy as face-to-face contact, as we shared photos of stairs we liked and traded floor plans and elevations.

The stairs need to be relatively steep to gain enough elevation to reach the deck, providing a number of design routes with their own pros and cons.

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To help with the decision process, the Stylecraft team produced a set of 3D drawings for each option so we could visualise the differences under every scenario. They also provided us with a picture board showing each element - a central steel stringer, timber treads and glass balustrade.

A model of what Ben and Kylie's stairs will look like including pale timber treads and an ironsand coloured steel stringer. Photo / Ben Crawford
A model of what Ben and Kylie's stairs will look like including pale timber treads and an ironsand coloured steel stringer. Photo / Ben Crawford

With Stylecraft's expert advice, we finally settled on the structural layout that minimised the riser heights as much as possible while ensuring the stairs still looked great and would be easy to use. Then it was time to decide on the finishes for the stairs.

To make it easy, Stylecraft arranged for us to go and look at a similar set of stairs that they'd just completed in a new Pt Chevalier home.

If we had any doubts left about choosing to work with Stylecraft on our dream stairs, they dissipated the second we walked through the front door.

They were absolutely beautiful. To see them in the flesh also meant we could view and touch every detail, allowing us to confidently confirm the final aspects for our own stairs.

We've chosen to paint the central steel stringer ironsand to match our aluminum joinery.

Then we wanted a pale timber tread that would complement our flooring and other wooden finishes used throughout the house. Stylecraft sent us a huge sample box full of options to choose from and we selected American Ash, with a light whitewash applied to it.

This week the remaining walls of the house went up, meaning the Stylecraft guys could come and do a site measure to get their calculations millimetre-perfect.

Two days later they sent us a final set of 3D production drawings to approve. Now it's going to take about three weeks to fabricate everything before our actual staircase will be assembled in the factory for a final check before it's installed.

Which we reckon is a perfect excuse to spend a weekend in Wellington and test our designer stairs for the first time.

The only problem is I'm pretty sure we're going to want to pack them in our suitcase and bring them home with us there and then.


Watch episode 11 of Ben and Kylie's Brave New Build:

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The Block NZ 2012 winner Ben Crawford and his girlfriend Kylie are building their dream home. Share their proud moments and pitfalls every week.

• Find out more about Ben and Kylie's dream home at ourdreamhome.co.nz

For more information on the Kiwibank First Home Buyer's Guide visit: kiwibank.co.nz and search for "first home".