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Photograph by Julia Vandenoever

Steal This Boulder Designer’s Brilliant (and Cheap!) Staircase Idea

This colorful space proves it doesn't take big bucks to bring bold decor ideas to life.

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When Claire Jordan and her husband, Chad Chuenchit, set about redesigning their dated, carpet-clad staircase—part of a total reno of their 1960s-era Longmont home—they took inspiration from the crisp colors and clean lines of Scandinavian design, and…skydiving. Connecting the new rectangular handrail and square support posts are 100-foot lengths of orange parachute cord, which Jordan—a designer at architecture firm Arch11—purchased online for a whopping $11 each. “Stairs can cost a lot of money, so we started to look at what we could do that was affordable,” she says. (Spiffing up pre-made pine treads and risers with a coat of gray paint also helped cut costs.) The bold design was “an exercise in randomness,” Jordan explains. “The kids [now ages 5 and 10] helped us, and we just started feeding the cord through little eyelets that we screwed into the posts. There was no way we could draw it; it just had to be done.” An adjacent gallery wall of photos is another example of “planned randomness,” Jordan says—further proof that some of the best designs just happen naturally.

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