“L’esprit de l’escalier” is the French phrase for when you think of a good comeback just a little too late to actually use it. It literally translates to “the spirit of the stairs,” and Philosopher Denis Diderot came up with it after he was roasted so brutally at a party that he couldn’t even think of a response until he was on the stairs out.
Alas, I can’t offer a cure for l’esprit de l’escalier, but I can offer you some beautiful staircases to have it on.
These 24 staircases stun with their beautiful, creative, and functional designs, and looking at them may ease the sting of realizing the perfect comeback to your obnoxious cousin’s veiled insults seconds after you leave the family reunion.
1. Back Support: According to designer Andrew McConnell, this staircase is meant to mimic a whale’s spine. McConnell says that most of the work went into “refining the single [vertebrae],” and its linkable structure allows homeowners to make different sizes of stairs, from a blue-whale-sized tower to a tiny staircase more fit for a dwarf sperm whale.
2. It’s Hip To Be Square: The design here is more practical than many on the list; it’s designed to fit into one square meter of floor space, making it easy to drop in an attic staircase. Everything about this piece is designed for functionality, from the thin safety railing up the center to the gripping treads on the edge of each stair – except for the color, which is just sheer beauty for the purpose of beauty.
3. Cultural Mosaic: Sometimes, the simplest designs are the most beautiful. The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps in San Francisco are the brainchild of ceramist Aileen Barr and mosaic artist Colette Crutcher, and 300 community volunteers helped make their vision happen. Nowadays, the steps draw tourists and locals who need a little pick-me-up.
4. Somewhere Over The Rainbow: This staircase, featured in London’s appropriately-named Rainbow House, turns a white room into a riot of color with the application of carefully-selected paint. The house, which you can rent for a cool £15,000 a month, also features a slide down into the living room.