1. In this LEED-certified house in Bloomingdale, an industrial-looking floating steel staircase was designed to go along with the exposed ductwork and radiant-heated concrete floors that surround it—the idea was to minimize the use of materials. Low-VOC paint in an upbeat green adds punch. Architect/Builder/Stair design: Vertex Architects, 1147 W. Ohio St., 312-432-9870, vertexarch.com. Fabrication: Orsolini Welding and Fabricating, 3040 W. Carroll Ave., 773-722-9855.


2. The original ceiling beams in this repurposed West Side building, a former factory, were salvaged and made into planks for stairs. The cutout circle shape on the side of the landing is a nice detail—as is the colorful chandelier, inspired by rice-paper lanterns, that ever-so-slightly echoes it. Architect: James Gray, Cornice & Rose, 804 W. Roberts Rd., Barrington, 847-487-9487, corniceandrose.com. Design and fabrication: Iron & Wire, 773-255-2672, iron-wire.com.


3. In this former soda pop factory on the South Side, a bright-yellow curved stairwell with a contrasting dark wall makes for a dramatic entryway. The steel railing has a hint of Art Deco styling to it; maple treads keep the steel from looking too cold. Architect: Foster Dale Architects, 3717 N. Ravenswood Ave., 773-327-1000, fosterdalearchitects.com. Design and fabrication: Iron Impressions, 39 W. Home Ave., Villa Park, 630-833-4454, ironimpressions.com


4. A bold mix of materials makes this staircase the centerpiece of a two-story condo in Ukrainian Village. A Plexiglas wall that extends to the rooftop of the building (part of an enclosed addition) is trimmed with a wide band of Macassar ebony. The green-tea-stained ash treads add an element of surprise. Builder: Joseph Panfil, Big Art, 1050 W. Kinzie St. Architect: Michael Mohr, 847-967-1950. Interior architecture: Frank Ponterio, 847-234-5704, frankponterio.com. Interior design: Bruce Tittle; bruce@joetittle.com. Design and welding: Weld Custom Design, weldchicago.com.


Photography: (1,2,3) Nathan Kirkman; (4) Andreas Larsson


5. Tiles recovered from the original fireplace surround in this refurbished 118-year-old Wicker Park house get a new life on these stairs. (The old tiles appear on the bottom riser; the rest are new, chosen for their complementary colors and patterns). Architect: Thomas Meier, 847-682- 2981. Interior designer: Arden Nelson, ABN Interiors, 1252 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-251-9510.


6. The goal in this project was to create a glassy modern stairway with as little metal as possible, continuing the flow of the home’s pretty walnut floors with a wood railing. Matte aluminum edging on the glass creates a finished look; the gray carpet runner helps to soften things up even more. The wall niche is a lovely way to add visual interest. Builder/contractor: Reid Johnson, Edison Builders, 773-935-5268, edisondesignbuild.com. Interior designer: Jillian O’Neill, 312-286-8500, jillianoneill.com.


7. Exposed-brick walls and lean, unadorned steel staircases by Milk Design have become a popular pairing in Chicago houses such as this one in Lincoln Park. Milk now offers a modular stair system, wherein you can mix and match styles that appear on the company’s Web site. Shown here are Paris stairs with a Chicago railing. Design and fabrication: Milk Design, 2220 S. Halsted St., 312-563-6455, milkdesign.net.


8. These ingenious cantilevered steps (the treads are poplar-veneered MDF), paired with a strategically placed wavy handrail—seem to float on air. Their light look works well in this tiny Logan Square studio apartment—it’s only about 450 square feet in size. Architect: Wayne F. Tjaden, 773-489-1019. Stair treads: Function Design Company, 2508 W. Chicago Ave., 773-394-8525.


Photography: (5,6) Kate Roth; (7) Eric Hausman; (8) Alan Shortall