by Alan Lewis

In the beginning: A  Jeep CJ5 restoration project was sitting in the driveway, a game arcade was in the garage, and a swimming pool was in the backyard.  The Jeep needed to be in the garage, the games needed to be in the backyard, and the swimming needed to go.

First task; remove swimming pool.  The link to this task is at the bottom of this web page.

Second task, build a game room storage facility.

The building has the games on the first floor and a workshop/pinball storage in the attic.  The maximum size building that would fit on the property was roughly 16’ x 20’.  There were some challenges with maximizing floor space with this size building.

Here is how the floor space issues were addressed:


(the 530 sq.ft. reference is for both floors)

This layout allows for 12 to 14 pinball machines on the 1st floor while still having a jukebox and cocktail table and stools.

The two main things that maximize the floor space are the spiral stairs and the elevator.  A regular staircase takes up a lot of space in a building of this size.  It would take up the space of 4 pinball machines on the first floor and 4 in the attic area.  So that had to go.  A spiral staircase solves the problem perfectly.

How do you get things up to the attic?  The elevator solves that problem without sacrificing usable floor space.  It also takes care of the problem of moving heavy games up conventional staircases alone.  I usually do everything by myself so I need solutions that make that easier and safer.


The cost of spiral staircase kits starts at $2500 and goes way up.  That was too much to spend on stairs so I designed my own spiral staircase.  It ended up costing less than $200 in material for the whole thing.  Not pretty, but very functional.  It gets the job done very well.

The stairs were designed using a CAD program.  The first layout drawing above shows the stair tread layout.  It is a 360 degree design and fits within a 48” opening in the attic floor.  Standard tread rise and run standards for spiral stairs were followed.  This resulted in 11 treads.

The reason this design is so inexpensive is that the outer four walls of the stairwell are used as the outside support for the stair treads.  The stair treads are not cantilevered from the center post like freestanding spiral stairs.  Using the four walls for support makes it both inexpensive and very strong.  It doesn’t take up any more useful space than conventional spiral stairs.

I have used these stairs for a few months and find that they are very comfortable to use.  Others have said the same thing, noting that they do look hard to navigate but in reality are easy to use.

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To verify tread design a mockup was made using poster board as stair treads.  The cat is holding the yardstick firmly in place.


The treads were all cut from one 4’x8’ sheet of ¾” plywood floor underlayment.  Bracing was attached to the bottom of each tread to stiffen them.


The roughed in stairwell with center post

The center post held in position on the attic floor

The finished stairs from the attic.

Looking down from the attic landing




The elevator is located right over the main entrance door.  Since this area cannot be used for any games it is perfect for occasional elevator use.  The opening is 3’ x 5’ and has a removable floor panel.  Using an elevator to transport everything upstairs allows for a smaller spiral staircase.  This maximizes usable floor space.

This elevator is not meant for transporting people, just inanimate objects.


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Elevator UP at main door entrance


Elevator DOWN


From the second floor


Second floor UP




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The entry.  Spiral stairs straight ahead, elevator over the doorway.


The floor is maple pattern floating laminate.


First floor (scroll horizontally)

First floor looking back (scroll horizontally)

Might as well use the ceiling area for those hard to display items like car parts and neon signs (scroll vertically)


A Seeburg Consolette wallbox that is fully functional.  Uses DataSync Engineering wallbox MP3 adapter to a stereo system.

Attic workshop/storage, looking from stairs

In attic looking back at spiral stairs and elevator



A place for everything and everything in its place:

I’ve been hauling around car parts for 40 years, now I have a place to display them.  This should be a ’66 Mustang front valance.  Upper right is an electric fuel pump from my old Hemi hot rod.

To see the swimming pool demolition click here.

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