Handrails

My new wrought iron handrail

I’ve always loved wrought iron handrails. A while back, they went out of style for a few years and they were considered tacky and very 70’s. Everyone wanted wood handrails and wrought iron was sneered at, much like popcorn ceilings are sneered at today. I was dismayed when my mom sent all her cool wrought iron home decor items to the Goodwill and refused to have anything to do with the stuff anymore. Perhaps I was always stuck in a 70’s time warp (or terribly unfashionable) but I have never stopped loving wrought iron. It’s just so very……Moroccan. I loved it in guilty silence when everyone else rolled their eyes at it. So imagine my delight when wrought iron handrails came back in style again! I just had to have some in my new mountain house. And I needed quite a bit of it. I devoured decorating and architecture magazines that had any hint of  handrails in them and I googled “wrought iron” so many times that I think I must have seen every single wrought iron item ever made by man.  After collecting dozens of wrought iron handrail pictures I designed a gorgeous and very ornate handrail full of scrolls, curly-cues and twisty spindles and then I sent my designs off to several companies for estimates. When they sent the estimates back to me I almost fell over had kittens and died. None of them was under five thousand dollars. I quickly realized that I would have to settle for a much simpler and less expensive design.  I also discovered that if I bought the parts myself and then hired a blacksmith to put the handrail together for me, it would cost considerably less. So off I went to a local ironworks store in search of  “parts”.  When I got there, I was ushered into a huge warehouse literally overflowing with so many hundreds of parts and pieces of fancy scrollwork, spindles, balusters and ornamental panels that I found it difficult not to succumb to design frenzy again. I took a deep breath and asked the salesman, “What’s your least expensive ornamental panel?” I was surprised and delighted when he pulled a fancy decorated panel out of a box and held it up for me to see.  It had curly-cues and leaves and looked much more expensive than it really was, even in it’s unpainted state.  I found that pairing up several of these panels with double twist spindles at fixed intervals and adding some fancy knobs  here and there yielded a very nice looking handrail indeed. For alot less than the prices I’d been quoted before.  I also discovered that hollow spindles cost much less than solid ones and they looked pretty much the same on the outside. Not to mention that they made the whole handrail alot more lightweight.  The store even recomended a blacksmith who turned out to be quite an artist and who charged a very reasonable rate. I’m very happy with the results and even though my original design had been alot more elaborate, I think this simpler but elegant design fits quite nicely with the style of the house.

The unpainted panel. This is the one I used

Looking out over the side yard from the balcony

Outside looking up to the front balcony from the front yard

Looking out over the Costa Rican Central Valley from the front balcony

Looking up at the second floor from the foyer

I’ve started painting some of the knobs with gold enamel paint as you can see on the right

I’ve also painted the leaves in gold

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