These stairs were intensely carpeted, too small to be very useful or accessible, and generally less-than-ideal. Rather than simply removing the carpet, which would have been a nice upgrade on its own, the stairs were reimagined completely—and moved.
When asked to describe the stairway pre-renovation, the homeowner sums up its character in just two chilling words:
Death Trap. Honestly, there is no other way to describe it. The stairs in our 1920 bungalow shot almost straight up, were covered in a very dingy, slippery carpet (I fell down them a few times), were so narrow that you couldn’t even fit a chair through, and if you were not the size of small child you would likely bang your head coming up or down on the low clearance. The staircase also went through one of the only closets we had in the house, making it practically unusable.
Carpeted stairs are already a bad, dangerous idea, but carpeted stairs through a closet with a low overhang? Death trap, indeed. And 100-year-old homes are notorious for their lack of storage, so losing a closet is a severe blow.
In the place of dingy, dark, dangerous stairs, Andi Askar of Andriana Baker now has wooden stairs that absolutely glow and look like a joy to walk upon. They are well lit, there’s no overhang to duck under, and they are definitely wide enough to carry a chair up or down. The wood is gorgeous, thanks to the daylight bouncing off the new white paint. A railing adds safety, and the gentle curve at the bottom is elegant and stately.
Shown here is the front entrance of the house, with the wall on the right concealing a first-story front bedroom. That wall is about to be removed to join the bedroom space with the rest of the main floor. Here’s what it took to do so:
From day one of hiring our contractor for the job, meeting with architects for drawings, until brushing on the last drop of paint and putting furniture in, the whole project took nine months with two of those being strictly construction. We luckily didn’t hit too many problems with this project which was very surprising due to the age of the home. Materials took a little longer than we wanted, but in the end everything was worth the wait.
We wanted the upstairs to be our master bedroom, so we had to think of a way to make these stairs functional and to match our aesthetic and vision of our home. We brainstormed, drew up some ideas, and consulted the internet for inspiration. Then we decided: We were not only going to fix them, but we were going to move the entire staircase. In doing this we knew we would have to lose the front bedroom and make it part of the front room, which worked out since we had already toyed with the idea of tearing down the dividing wall to increase the layout.
Being able to get rid of a bedroom is a major luxury, and figuring out how to do so—and having the nerve to do it—takes major creativity and conviction. This was an intense restructuring project that paid off beautifully.
What used to be a bedroom is now an airy stairway and a lovely, light-filled dining room. The way that only half the stairway is visible is just so perfect: The open portion is enticing and inviting, while the concealed portion creates a feeling of privacy and seclusion.
The remaining space makes an excellent spot for a dining table, thanks to the high ceilings and ample natural light. The wooden stairs, table, and chairs look fabulous together, and as a whole, the white-and-wood color scheme is incredibly appealing.
After nine months of renovation, Andi has some serious advice to share:
Be prepared for the long-haul and living in less than ideal situations for a little while. Patience is the best thing anyone can practice during a renovation. It will keep you sane. Also, communication. Be 100 percent involved in every decision, especially if you aren’t doing the work yourself. Be clear and concise to the people you hire, so there aren’t any surprises that can’t be undone or at a high cost.
The paint is Cloud Cover by Benjamin Moore, the stain is Candlelite by General Finishes from Amazon, the window is from Milgard, and the newel is from McCoy Millwork. The table is from Goodwill and the chairs are from Craigslist.
That wood is so glorious, and the white paint allows the focus to remain on the wood where it belongs. This portion of the stairway is particularly graceful, and it happens to be one of Andi’s favorite parts:
Our favorite part of the remodel is being able to use the stairs safely and the ability to move items up and down! Second favorite would be the winders (which are steps that are narrower on one side than the other) we added in on the four bottom steps. They give them so much personality and fit in with the era of the home! We also love that they are the first thing you see when you walk in the front door. Light pours down and makes the house feel really inviting. We didn’t think we’d make this room our dining room, but as we started putting furniture back in the space, it just made sense. Plus, now we have a great view of the fireplace while we have our meals.
Thank you, Andi Askar of Andriana Baker!