Stairs don't have to be boring -- in fact, they can be made much more exciting by making them multifunctional repositories for books, desks or saving space by turning them into alternating treaded wonders. Stairs can get so grand that they can even form a kind of home ampitheatre, with a bit of sliding fun built in.
This modernist staircase from Marc Koehler Architects charts a middle way -- it's not a grand staircase, but it does have more than one function -- acting as a large bookcase, while featuring full-size, wafer-like treads that seem to hover as they extend over thin air.
Built for a double apartment in the centre of Amsterdam, the designers say that the client wanted to keep the storage capabilities of an existing cupboard under the stairs. This multifunctional "Overtoom" staircase was the proposed solution by the designers, who say that "[b]y treating the staircase as a bookcase, an ambiguous and multifaceted object is created, redefining the role of the staircase in the house."
Once again, there is no handrail on one side of the stair (something that would not fly in litigious North America), but it keeps the visual lines clean. By shortening the depth of the shelving, it adds a bit more floorspace, and makes the staircase look a little more intriguing. More over at Marc Koehler Architects.