Stair Remodel: Before and After Transformation

In my post about our dining room makeover, I mentioned that we had made a list of things that needed to be done to our house when we bought it: stairs, window replacements, kitchen remodel, and the yard. We were finally in the position to start tackling that list – partially out of financial readiness, partially out of an urgency that comes with a newly mobile baby.

Editors note: TIME FLIES! That newly mobile baby is now a 4 year old! I’ve update this post to answer a lot of the common questions I’ve gotten on this project and 3 years later, I haven’t changed, or wanted to change, a thing about this space!

Staircase Remodel Before

Our house was built in 1979 and both the stair railing and windows were original. When we bought the house, the stair risers were carpeted and open – Brady Bunch style. Before we moved in, our flooring contractor enclosed them when he was putting in the wood floors.

Stairs when we bought the house.

The railing was iron and wobbly. It looked dated. The balusters were so far apart that a small child (or animal) could easily fit through them.

Stairs from front door
Before shot of the stairs

My husband rigged it with mesh and rope to make it safe for the time being but after two years, I had had enough of his decor.

Before view from upstairs
View of my husband’s handy work. Safety first.

I did the usual scouring of Pinterest and Houzz to find examples of what I wanted. My style is more traditional and timeless than it is modern or trendy. I wanted something more craftsman than midcentury for this project especially since this was at the center of our home, quite literally, and one of the first things you see when you walk in the front door.

How to find a contractor

Where do you even start to find someone who does stair railings? I started with the free local home magazines that we get from time to time. They had a few companies advertised that specialized in this work. And I did a google search. Experts will recommend that you get three bids for any project and I completely agree. I’ve found that you’ll always get one that’s way out there with their price and then two that are comparable. Then it’s a matter of who you trust more to do the work.

That’s been true for most of the updates that we’ve done to this house and this time was no different. All the contractors that I spoke with were in the same ballpark as far as price. The job went to the person I felt most comfortable with getting the job done right. He came to the appointment prepared, was knowledgable about the work and had samples with him of past jobs and materials that would be used.

The Work on the Stairs

Once the contract was signed, we had to wait for some space in their schedule. Of course, the first available time they had was exactly when I had the windows being replaced so we had to push out an additional week so that the two projects didn’t over lap. I don’t think it would have been and issue if we didn’t have two large picture windows right above the stairs.

Before view of picture windows
Before: Upstair picture windows

The company I used, Kleinsmith Stair and Trim, had the whole process down to a science. The first carpenter came and took out the old stair railing and put in the new wood posts and railings. This process took two days.

Demo just beginning
Goodbye 1979
Safety first
End of Day 2

The second phase was the staining. They matched the stair color to our floors (Napa Valley Tobacco Hickory) and finished that section in one day. The third was a finishing carpenter who installed all the balusters and finishing pieces.

Finishing work on the stairs
Baluster install

I have to say that beyond some amazing craftsmanship, they were all wonderful people. Super friendly and respectful of our home. They were all incredibly talented.

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through the links and buy anything, the retailer will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you! I never link to anything that I haven’t actually used. 

New Lighting

This space wouldn’t look finished until I changed out the light fixtures. While they had been updated at some point, they still didn’t fit my style.

Free lights
Old light fixtures

I found this foyer light and this chandelier at Joss and Main. The upstairs hallway light was updated with a flush mount light from Home Depot.

Staircase Remodel After

New stairway
Finished stairs

Going into this project, I knew that it would make a huge difference. We did it out of necessity but knew it would ultimately increase our home’s value. I was surprised with how much of an impact this made.

Bottom stair view
Love how the new stain works with our wood floors
Top of the stairs
New flush mount light

Not only does it look incredible but it really has changed the entire way this house feels: updated, safe, and warm. The investment was worth every penny.

View from upstairs
New windows, new lights, new railing
Landing lighting
Globe chandalier
New entry light
Foyer lighting

We loved this renovation so much that our next project was to create a special reading nook under the stairs for the girls. I love how it turned out and honestly, it’s one of my favorite hiding spots.

Some other projects we’ve done that you might like, no contractor required: kid’s beach bathroom update, laundry room renovation, and our outdoor string lights.

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