Tuesday, July 3, 2012

41 Our Secret Stairs and Current Renovation Project

Have you every been curious how our troops get from upstairs to downstairs and from downstairs to upstairs?  A secret elevator?  Or maybe an escalator?  Some sort of high tech space tunnel you would have seen on the Jetsons?

Part of the reason you haven't seen our staircase, other than in this awful photo from two years ago...


Is because for the last two years it has looked like this:


Ew right?! 

Right after the lower level flood, we had to pull the carpet on the stairs.  It was soggy, dirty and just down right disgusting.

We made the decision that carpeted stairs were no longer for us.  They quickly show wear, gobble up dust and dirt and with hard floors at the top and bottom of the staircase, carpeted stairs would look and feel a little out of place.

So, we have spent the last two years discussing potential options, doing a lot of inspiration searching and making boatloads of excuses to put off the huge staircase project.

Two years later and enough is really enough.  Unfinished stairs have been a constant thorn in my side and we have finally decided to quit dreading the project, slap a giant smile on our faces and get things done!

Once we had the carpet pulled, the first step was to remove all nails and staples with a pliers.  Then, we were left with the original stair treads {yes, for two whole years}....


Here is our current plan {which could change at a moments notice}:
  1. Extend left wall at bottom of stairs to align with existing wall on the right.
  2. Remove the bull-nose edge on existing stairs to give us a squared stair for our new solid wood stair kits.
  3. Install new skirt boards along edges of the stairs.
  4. Install handrail height molding.
  5. Skim walls smooth in-between skirt board and handrail height molding.
  6. Finish board and batten down both sides of the stairs and paint white.
  7. Stain stair treads and paint stair risers.
  8. Install risers and stair treads.
  9. Install hand rail.
  10. Celebrate!
This past weekend we began the project and knocked the first two items off of the list!

My father-in-law has done all of the drywall work in our entire home {it was his profession after all} so he popped over to help us get going with the process and adding the new wall.

The bad blogger in me didn't take before photos of the wall {or lack there of}, before he had already had a new one built and installed!  He is lightning fast!


The stairs have always been a smidge odd since the wall extends to the bottom stair on the right side, but stopped short on the left.  We made the choice to even things out and to give the stairs a more unified look.  Plus, the guys thought it would make finishing off the lower two stairs much simpler, and last but not least, the new wall gives me extra space in the studio to add a cozy chair.  Can't argue with that!

As you can see in this photo, while my father-in-law was working on the wall, my hubster was using a sawzall to very carefully cut the bull-nose edge off of each stair.



Pretty glamorous right?  Yeah, not so much.  Not yet anyway.  I can see it though, can you?

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So pretty right!?

Since I am a checklist gal and LOVE the feeling of being able to cross things off, I am going to do that now:
  1. Extend left wall at bottom of stairs to align with existing wall on the right.
  2. Remove the bull-nose edge on existing stairs to give us a squared stair for our new solid wood stair kits.
  3. Install new skirt boards along edges of the stairs.
  4. Install handrail height molding.
  5. Skim walls smooth in-between skirt board and handrail height molding.
  6. Finish board and batten down both sides of the stairs and paint white.
  7. Stain stair treads and paint stair risers.
  8. Install risers and stair treads.
  9. Install hand rail.
  10. Celebrate!

Anyone else take on a project as large as this and what advice do you have?  Any experts in the stain department? {It is really our first major staining project and I am a bit terrified!}  How about areas of your home that you have kept in hiding?

41 comments:

  1. fun! Can't wait to watch this unfold. It's going to look great! Congrats on the first two 'steps' - ha, get it? ;)

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    1. Bahahaha! That is awesome! Thanks for making me giggle!

      xoxo,
      Jen

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  2. Love your inspiration pics. I too want hand rail height molding, but will probably hire out that project since I don't think I'm brave enough to tackle it on my own. Good luck and I can't wait to see the finished product :)

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  3. The stairs are going to look fabulous when they are finished. Can't wait for more updates!

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  4. Wow Jen that is going to look fabulous when complete, you'll just love it !!!
    Kate

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  5. We are getting new flooring on our entire first and second floor soon and my hubby wants hardwood throughout, even in bedrooms and on the stairs. I fear that it will be slippery even though I love the look and that I can take a Swiffer and know that the floor is clean and not have dog and human hair and yuck embedded into carpet. I love the look of the dark stair with the white. Can't wait to see your finished product!

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  6. That is quite a project to get done. I know you will get it completed though. You and your blog are such an inspiration for me. An inspiration to start a blog and to get more organized. I can't wait to see these stairs when they are done.

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  7. Thank you for having a hidden area! I feel so much better about myself. ;)
    We hide our studio and basement for now.

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  8. The stairs are going to look beautiful.

    Sometimes I get frustrated with the pace of my own organizing and decorating, so it is nice to see that even at your house some things just take time.

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  9. Ooh, love the dark/white contrast! Ebony would be gorgeous! (Or an ebony stain :-p) And I totally understand the checklist thing. I write stuff down in a list all the time just so I can get the satisfaction of crossing it off!

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  10. Fun project! I love the last inspiration photo, maybe that's what the builder was visioning when they decided to not extend that wall all the way to the bottom? you could have added the fancy stairs at the bottom just like the pictures.
    I love the inspiration you've used! so fun!

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  11. We did stained treads and painted risers on our stairs, too.

    I'm guessing your new treads will be pine, so make sure you condition them prior to staining, otherwise it will be uneven!

    As for your handrail, you might find this post from Old Town Home helpful! http://oldtownhome.com/2011/6/1/Hold-On-Tight-Staircase-Wainscoting-and-Handrail-Project/index.aspx

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  12. I love your inspiration photos! I have been considering pulling up our stair carpet and painting the wood underneath, but was a bit scared to actually go ahead and do it. Now I have seen such lovely uncarpeted stairs, it has really made me think... so thank you!

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  13. lookin good! it will all be done before you know it (:

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  14. I love your ideas on staircase. White and dark brown is perfect combo of color! I wonder if you have another access to downstairs if you paint the stain on stairs and let it dry? Why don't you test stains on extra wood before applying on staircases.

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  15. Jen, our stairs to the basement have looked like yours for 8 yrs now. Our basement is not finished. But, I definitely hear you on enough is enough. Only thing is.. oldest moved back home and is staying in our basement even though it is unfinished. I love the painted stairs and you found some great inspiration photos!! I can't wait to see how yours turn out! Yes, test the stain on scrap pieces to see how it works with it. Each species of wood takes stain differently. Big projects here.. well our projects lately have been installing a sprinkler system. Never done that one before. It is all up and running!!! Yay! Just in time too! It's a hot one out there. We gussied up the front porch as much as possible for our very mini sized porch. We have more projects going on, but those are the recent completions.

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  16. I love how you make a list and break the project down into chewable bites! I should do that too with the projects I have put off because they seem overwhelming! :)

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  17. Jen, I can so relate. Our stairs have been in the "during" phase for the past 5 years! We moved in, ripped out the disgusting carpet & put down flooring everywhere else in the house except the stairs. I dream of the day when I can post "after" pictures.

    Yay for you being able to cross some stuff off of your list - very fulfilling, isn't it? :)

    ~Steph @ Silver Boxes

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  18. Your inspiration photos are gorgeous. Yours will be too. Excited to see your plans come to life.

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  19. Melanie (melarse)July 3, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    We just finished rebuiding our house (lost in a fire 2011), and used several of the same images as inspiration.
    We chose Minwax's Jacobean for all the hardwood floors and stair treads, along with Benjamin Moore's crisp Decorator's White for the trim and risers. (We had all the wood "water popped before staining). It's the perfect combination to provide a beautiful contrast. We get compliments from every visitor on the color of the floors.
    Good luck!

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  20. It's going to look fabulous! Congrats on starting the process - the hardest part is over, right? ;)

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  21. You are doing so well. Cant wait to see what you end up finishing with! I wish I had a staircase just so I could have a gallery wall on them :)

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  22. We have a similar setup - wood above and below, but carpeted stairs. Ours is more open, though. I will be watching to see how your project works out!

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  23. I love your plans for the stairs. We had hardwood stairs with painted white risers in our first home. I loved how easy they were the keep clean, but you did have to be cautious running down them in socks!

    As for big projects, we are thisclose to finishing our guest bathroom. This is the last post I did on it: projectsatthepicketts.blogspot.com. I can't wait to completely finish it and blog about it! I also love to make lists and check things off. One piece of advice is to be patient because I think these things always take longer than we anticipate. Good luck!

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  24. I love that look and would love to rip out the carpets and do the same thing you're doing. I will be following along with your progress!

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  25. The only thing I can suggest is an idea I found on Pinterest, and that's to put either storage inside the stairs themselves or to put drawers in them for storage. I have five kids myself (9 of us in total right now, but that's another story) and I've found that you can never have enough storage space!

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  26. I like the drawer idea also but I'd lose so much stuff in them ;-)

    We've got carpet on our stair and wood downstairs. Looking forward to your completed pictures!

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  27. Lol, my first thought was, "Oooo, since they're already unfinished, she could do that cool drawer idea I saw on Pinterest!" I really like the wallpaper-the-rise-in-a-fun-pattern idea, too, but your inspiration pics are SO beautiful!

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  28. Oh I'm so glad you're tackling this! We have to do our steps down to our basement and I have been dreading it . . . what to do what to do . . . I'll just do what you do ;)
    Love the plan!
    Ashli

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  29. I love it! Our main level stairs have been this exact way for 2 years too. I can't wait to see the final product.

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  30. Oh thank you thank you thank you! Thank you for posting this, for telling us how your stairs have been for two years. This post was exactly what I needed since we recently bought our place and EVERYTHING needs a makeover! When I read your blog I often get the impression that you already have everything in perfect condition and that makes me frustrated with my own home which is in need for so much love and hard work. This post of yours made me realize that I need to be more patient and just work and wait and that one day my home will actually look pretty even though it might not seem like it right now. Thank you!

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  31. We stained the living room floors at our old house (thought I had a post on it but guess I don't). Anyway, it was so much easier than I thought it would be. My advice start at the bottom and work to the top, otherwise you will be stuck in the basement while it dries. You just 'paint' it on and then wipe it off. If you want it darker just do it again. I bet it will look awesome when you are done.

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  32. love the dark/light contrast! Can't wait to see the finished project!

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  33. So I just got my copy of Getting Organized Magazine yesterday, and proceeded to read through it in about 5 minutes and saw your article. I was reading it and it hit me "Hey I read this blog, it's great!" The closet office looks super neat!

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  34. Ahh I am in love with the colour and design of your staircase.

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  35. I recently heard that the cause of most stair falls is because the top step has a different depth than the rest and it tricks your brain. Something to check now that you can fix it. It has to do with builders making the stairs separate and attaching them to the top step.
    I love your ideas, I know they'll be fabulous when you're done!

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  36. I LOVE that you featured Sarah's (TDC) stairs. They are absolutely stunning and would look great in your stair-space!

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  37. I can't wait to see the finished product! I have been wanting to stain our banisters an espresso color, but I am a little nervous that I will mess them up. :)

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  38. I can't wait to see the finished product! I have been wanting to stain our banisters an espresso color, but I am a little nervous that I will mess them up. :)

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  39. I have no advice on staining or anything involving stairs...haha! This looks great though and I can't wait to see the final product!

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  40. I just finished painting and varnishing our stairs. It's a HUGE job. I truly had to dedicate all my spare time during school hours for a few weeks to get it done, and that was twice, once for the varnishing and painting upstairs banisters, and again for the risers, stringers with the white paing.
    You can see the finished stairs on my blog www.womanofnotes.blogspot.com.au on a post in June called "cold, cats and cutting in" (can't cut and paste at the moment)
    Tips: use a product called sanding sealer before you do your last sanding pre-varnishing.
    Test stain first on a scrap piece of timber, it's really hard to get it even and we decided to give it a miss and just varnish (phew! Love the result)
    I didn't end up masking at all, just cut in with a finer brush, there are a few boo boos but not too bad if you keep a wet rag nearby.
    I ended up doing four costs of white, two different undercoats and two gloss topcoats to get it "white" enough.
    Good luck! You will love it when it's done!

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