Sunday, February 17, 2019

Modern Cottage staircase. How to.

Well friends. I offer this humble staircase makeover as proof that if you keep moving along--even in slow, torturous baby steps--eventually things get done.

The week before Patrick's accident we hired a stair contractor to finally begin work on our new staircase. He had torn it apart that week, and needless to say it stayed that way for a long time.

Despite my usual DIY chutzpah this was one project I had no intention of trying; I had a clear idea of what I wanted and I knew if I wanted it done before 2025 I had to hire a pro.

Here is the staircase that comes with our 1964 circa neighborhood. 

Clearly enough room between the metal spindles to practice sky-diving. Here's Stella showing you that this staircase was definitely not up to current codes.
Thankfully German Shepherds are so darn smart. And unlike small, curious children we never had problems with Stella getting too close to the edge. I had to call her a few times to get her to take this shot.

I say this to all my friends who dread the million-little-decisions involved with house renovations: Find some great inspiration photos that capture your look! And the more the better.

I found this photo from one of designer Lauren Liess's homes and although hers was completely custom--(translation outside-my-budget) it helped me define the clean, simple look I wanted for my stairs.

After the stairs were taken down to the bare bones we discovered a pin-hole leak in the pipes underneath. Which meant a call to the plumber and additional time for the wood to dry.

During this interlude we were walking around in shock and as you can imagine everything came to a standstill.

Slowly. After weeks of postponing and shaky phone calls that happened during foggy periods I barely remember, the stair contractor came back to our house. 

This is the part that might help you.
If you're interested in having a stair runner with a surged edging but don't want to pay additional costs of having new wood treads installed on each stair, listen closely.

As you can see I went with the more affordable choice: partial treads (means, only on the ends). And I kept the plywood in the middle where the runner would cover anyway.

Here's one of my inspiration photos showing a runner with the added edging on it. I was undecided about a black canvas edge or a surged edging in a darker shade of the runner. Eventually I decided against the black canvas because of the dirt.

But here's what you should know.

Because I wanted that darker edging on the runner, I would need to elevate the middle plywood area so that it was the same level with the end tread pieces. 

Are you following? I had to explain this to the stair guy.

Eventually he attached pieces of MDF (if I was in my right mind I would've asked for real wood) to the center plywood with wood glue and nails but he had to come back to re-do it, because he didn't line up the edge of the middle wood with the edge of the outside treads. 
Yes, it was awkward.

But according to the rug installer this was a key mistake.

Finally it got done. 
I think white paint on the risers and the treads lighten the look.

Here's a close-up of the newel post I had made

Close up of the surged edging and the pattern of my runner.

I toyed with the idea of an herringbone pattern because it's a classic, but frankly I was seeing it everywhere on Pinterest so I opted for this miniature diamond.

I chose a semi-gloss finish in black along with white shaker spindles and I'm happy with the contrast.

 Yes those are smudges on the rail, evidence of real life. :)

I hope this post helps you with your own design decisions if you're considering re-doing your stairs.

I try not to get too obsessed with each little decision, in the end the creative process should be a joyful one. For me especially now...I realize that using your right side of the brain and tapping into one's creative energies can provide a comforting distraction when you're going through an agonizing time. 

Enjoy each moment of your renovations. And realize that if you're able to do anything to your home--big or small-- consider yourself blessed.

love to you all,

(p.s. sorry about the weird font changes. Blogger is behaving poorly this morning)

Linking up:
Amaze Me Monday
The Scoop 365


michele said...

Leslie! It's beautiful! You know I can't read this without being tearful because there is just so much beauty in your words within the metaphoric steps forward that accompany this before/after. The runner is so perfect, and I appreciate how you have demystified the process. We haven't replaced our stair railings even though I don't like them, and I'll be referring back! Thinking of you, holding you, praying and feeling so much warmth. xox

Janet said...

Turned out lovely Leslie! We are working on our stair case’s inclosed so won’t be as dramatic but we are doing a runner. And painting the handrails...still a fun project!

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Leslie, once again your wonderful, classy style shines through! And yes, the diamond pattern was the perfect choice: 1) because, as you say, it's "everywhere" and 2) because your first floor rug just screams, "USE DIAMONDS!" 😉 That overhead pic made me smile and think, "Yep, she nailed it!" ...Prayers continue.

hollybholly said...

Your stairs are lovely but I think your furry assistant steals the show! Thank you for the tips! xx-hb

sandi s said...

Your stairs look wonderful! Hugs,

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Leslie, I love how your stairway turned out! I am wondering where you found your carpet runner...did you go to a carpet store? We need a runner like that for our stairs.

Karen said...

This is lovely and how pretty. I love your dog...have you always had him/her? I don't remember, but it could be a senior moment.
Your often in my thoughts.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dear soul,


I had read your prior post when you revealed what had happened..I had no idea how to respond. But on this note, I want to thank you for coming to my post. My hope is that the power of love as we share it will comfort our souls. And what a lovely renovation.

Sophie said...

Simple & chic! Half of my staircase is carpeted (yuck) but I'm not quite ready for this type of renovation ($$). It looks great Leslie & Stella is precious!!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Leslie, once again your project turned out fabulous. There is so much practical and valuable information here much of which I did not know.

Sending you a hug my friend.

Kristin @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia said...

Your staircase makeover is stunning, love all the elements. Thinking of you so much, prayers!

La Contessa said...


Carla from The River said...

It looks very nice Leslie, I enjoyed seeing Stella too.
Love to you,

Art and Sand said...

Your style is so classic - love the white stairs with the black and the simple post.

Robert Wagstaff said...

I love your stair runner! Any chance you would share the brand and color?
It is gorgeous!

Leslie Harris said...

Hi Robert,
The runner is Anderson, their Tuftex line.
Stroll was the pattern name in the color Twilight Gold.

Sue J said...

Fantastic job, Leslie and great tips, thank you. How you managed to project manage this makeover at such at time is beyond me and totally inspirational. We are moving to our very first cottage and your tread tips and photos are invaluable. Thank you! Sue x

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