We are now committed. The staircase is selected, fitted out, and purchased. We went to Tours yesterday afternoon and signed on the dotted line at the home improvement store.
Earlier in the day, Walt and I scoped out the job one more time to see what kind of stairway we really wanted. Jacques the contractor had talked about getting a staircase with two quarter turns. I kept thinking I'd prefer stairs with a single quarter turn better. Here's a picture of the stairway with two quarter turns.
After measuring the space and imagining what it would look like and how it would fit, W. and I decided the single-quarter-turn staircase was a viable option. Jacques ended up taking our word for it, after he looked at the rough drawings Walt had done.
That decision not only gave us the stairs we (or I) really wanted, but it saved us about 500 €. Another change suggested by the salesman at the store saved us some more. He said we should go with "exotic wood" — bois exotique — rather than oak. It's just a sturdy and durable, and it costs less. Tant pis for the Amazon rain forest, I guess.
The staircase we bought is advertised as costing 1,247 €. But by the time the sales guy added up all the extras — mounting hardware, bannisters to go around the stairwell upstairs, and other doodads — the price came to 1,900 €. And that was with a hefty discount, because the staircases are en promotion right now.
The stairway will be delivered unfinished. We chose that option for price reasons but also because we weren't yet ready to commit to a particular finish. Light, medium, or dark? Will we stain and varnish the underside as well as the steps and stair rails, or will we paint it the same color we paint the walls?
We'll have to look at the underside of the thing a lot, as we walk up from the ground floor to our main living area on the second floor (U.S. terminology — premier étage in French).