Old House, Stairway,

The ‘almost after’ Stairs Update

What Emily Does Cropped

So here we are.  The official “before” shot of our entry way and stairs.

Wait, hold up.  This isn’t really the ‘before’ shot.  Here’s the REAL before shot from the day we moved in.

So we’ve definitely made some progress since Day 1.  Painting all the stained trim and doors took a lot of time.  Lots of priming and waiting to dry; priming and waiting to dry; painting and waiting to dry; you get the point.  But that’s finished, the wall paper is down and the walls are painted a shade of gray that sometimes I like and sometimes I don’t.  It’s a lighting thing—sometimes the gray looks a bit blue.  But I think once I get the walls decorated they will look great.

Here’s a close up of the stairs before getting started–

I played around with some tools adding texture to the stairs–a hammer, some wide thread screws, random objects that I hammered on to the stairs.  You pretty much can’t go wrong with whatever you do.  My only suggestion is to start out light and after you stain you can re-assess if you want more distressing or not.  Our stairs were definitely beat up already and had plenty of distress on them which made my job much easier!  There are a million staple holes in them which I was worried would look weird, but in the end it looks absolutely great!

There was this weird wood appliqué thing-a-ma-jig on the side of the stairs that had to come off.  It took me about a minute to pry the thin wood layer off.  I’ll paint part of that white when I’m finished to match the rest of the molding.


Okay, I have to admit that I’m someone to tends to jump in to projects and neglecting the prep work.  I’ve learned the hard way that this is not a good idea.  So this time around I blocked off all the doorways to keep the dust isolated as much as possible.

This may seem the most “duh” thing ever–but WEAR A MASK!  When I sanded my dining table I skipped out on a mask because I just didn’t have one—errrrrr, bad idea.  By the end of the day I was coughing and wheezing like crazy.  I’m a nurse.  How could I be so dumb?!  HA–You live and learn!  And when you’re stubborn, sometimes it takes a little longer to learn;-)

Here’s the half-way progress point of sanding the stairs.  Can you see the difference?  And have I ever mentioned how much I love my Dewalt palm sander?  It’s MAAARRRVELOUS!

I stained the first stair and had to stop and take some pictures because I was so excited how it was turning out!

Another tip that is so obvious, but I didn’t think about it until I had just started—When you’re working on stairs, you have to do every other stair so you can get up and down them!  Duh, right?  I’m so thankful I realized it before I got halfway down the stairway.

It looks like I didn’t skip stairs here, but I did.  I was able to go ahead and stain the faces of the stairs since they don’t actually get stepped on.  This made staining the skipped steps go really quickly because most of the surfaces were already finished.

I took the arm rail off the wall and sanded it and gave it a little distressing too.  Here I’m doing the “screws in a ziploc bag, banging on the wood distressing effect”.  I have John from Young House Love to thank for this one.  YHL did a great tutorial for aging wood that you can check out here.

I was able to do all of this last Saturday.  I’m not finished with the stairs completely, but I’m almost there.  I need to finish the hand rail and seal the stairs.  As you can see, the walls are quite bare.  I’m working on that.  I’ve found that I’m better at big-picture things and not so great on accessorizing. That’s the fun part of this house reno, though—trial and error!

So here are the stairs almost finished. I’m so excited about them!

I went darker with the stain to have a strong contrast between the light colors in the rest of the house.  I’ll be on the hunt for a stair runner soon too since wood stairs can be a little slippery—and I’m a total clutz.

Hopefully I’ll have a REAL after shot soon!

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