Tag Archives: staircase

Stairway to Heaven

If our basement=heaven, then the title of this post is totally accurate.  If not, it’s a little sacrilegious, especially considering yesterday was Easter. My bad.

So, I know we’ve stretched this basement project over way too many posts, but here’s another one (and it’s not even the last one…by far…get excited). This time, we’re tackling the basement staircase.

One of my first memories of this house is the overwhelming smell of dog on this staircase.  As I may have mentioned before, our entire home is hardwood floors with the exception of two areas: the guest room closet, and the staircase to the basement. Totally random, right?  Although carpet is comfy-cozy, it also holds onto odors and dog smell was no exception here.

(Disclaimer: Despite our current pet situation, I am totally a “dog person”…grew up with them, love them. Believe me when I say that I’m not over-dramatizing the whole dog smell thing.)

Could we have tried a carpet steamer or deodorizer? Sure.  Are we that practical? Absolutely not.  Besides the smell, it was also kinda dirty looking and run down.  Here’s a shot of the staircase before we touched it (and a lovely reminder of the original red paint color):

Also, notice the bannister and how unnecessarily bulky it is. Easy fix right? We figured we’d just remove it and replace it with something more our style. Here’s how it went to down (complete with inner monologue):

“Hmm…no visible screws. That’s ok, we’ll just gently pry it off the wall using this nice chisel…”

“Just a littttttttle pressure and surely it’ll pop right off…”



Oh hey wall innards!”

Ok, so that bannister didn’t go down without a fight…and some serious damage to the drywall. But hey, no big deal.  Lucky for us, we had a guy coming to install drywall on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs (a topic for another post), so he patched up those little blemishes while he was here.

So, moving on to the dog carpet.  I had the bright idea that there must be really nice hardwood stairs under the carpet, and wouldn’t that look lovely?  I decided that I’d just rip the carpet and pad off (super easy, right?), sand them down a tad, and viola! New hardwood stairs. Great – let’s get started!

I WAS RIGHT! Hardwood! This will be a piece of cake…except for those pesky staples with the carpet fibers attached, but those will pop right out according to every other blogger I’ve ever seen do this to their stairs.  I WIN!!!”

Oh wait…there are a LOT of staples. Are there gonna be that many on every step? And they aren’t exactly popping right out…actually, they seem kind of stuck.  WHY ARE THERE SO MANY STAPLES?!?!?!?!”

Yes…I discovered that there were that many staples on every step, and then some.  When I could actually muster enough strength to rip up the carpet and access the wood (remember….millions and millions of staples), I discovered a war zone underneath; rusty staples that would break in half with slight pressure, nails everywhere, and a tack strip which splintered into a million pieces (each having to be individually pried off) when any force was applied.  A few hours and only a couple of steps later, I began to rethink my brilliant idea.

Luckily I have a roommate who has more upper body strength and patience for this crap, and a couple of days later we had this:

(I also painted the formerly red staircase walls white, to make the staircase appear less cave-like. Yes, I was messy with the paint on the steps…I don’t care.)

By this point, we had long since given up on the idea of keeping the stairs as hardwood.  Besides the fact that they were riddled with nail and staple holes (and some nails that we just flattened into the staircase because we couldn’t get them out), the color was all wrong and there were gaps between the stairs and the wall (almost all were much bigger than what you can see in the above picture…think 4-5 inches).  Carpet it is.

We’re not so bold as to think we could install our own carpet, so we gathered three in-home estimates from both local and national companies.  We ended up going with Lowe’s…they were the least expensive, plus we just like them and basically live in their store.

(Begin Rant) One guy who came from Empire Today patronized me for saying that I wanted to discuss their estimate with my husband before agreeing to schedule the installation (aka hedging because we still had two more people coming to give estimates).  He said something along the lines of how I must not be “allowed” to spend that much since I had to check with my husband first, then tried to give me grief because I didn’t end up buying the carpet and he doesn’t get reimbursed for mileage for driving all the way to my house, located squarely in their service area.  Shock of all shocks, we didn’t go with them. Poor form, Empire Today. (End Rant).

Within a few days, we had lovely new carpet, sans doggie smell and stains:

The carpet and installation ended up costing around $375, which was way more than we were expecting to spend on this little project, so be forewarned if you want to try this yourself.  Maybe give the carpet steamer a chance? I’m also wondering how much more it would have cost to have them remove the old carpet…I definitely would have paid it looking back on that hellish experience. But, that being said, we’re very happy with the way it looks and feels.  We’re still on the hunt for a bannister, so we’ll give a little update when the staircase is finally finished.

So, the big question to my ladies…ever been in a situation like I had with the carpet dude? How did you handle it? Do share!




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fall touch-ups

That title is definitely deceiving, being that I did this project last week when we were still suffering through 95+ degree temperatures here in lovely Indiana. But, I am happy to report that as I write this, it is a chilly and wonderful 53 degrees outside, with similar weather to follow for the rest of this week.  Perfect weather for…

PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES!! It’s like the weather guy knew that Starbucks was going to start serving PSLs today and adjusted the weather accordingly.  I love these things, but I don’t know if I could have ordered one still wearing shorts and tank tops – it’s a fall drink, and requires fall weather.  That being said, you know where I’ll be stopping when I go out later today! Yumm.

Anyways, on to the topic of this post…touch-ups.  These aren’t the most exciting projects to talk about because there’s no amazing before/after shot…it’s more like a before and a “wait, is something different?” shot.  However, I kind of feel like these small changes – the kind that people don’t really notice – can make a big difference.  

The real impetus behind the touch-ups was a suggestion from Bryan and our combined awful painting skills.  As I’ve mentioned, the only room we’ve really painted (besides our downstairs half bath) is the guest room.  This bedroom had a previous life as a kid’s room, complete with Dr. Seuss paintings on the wall:

So those obviously had to go.  We chose to paint the room a darker blue with a little bit of gray, which turned out leaving walls like this:

But, our rookie mistakes also left us with trim like this:

and this…

and this…

Alright, so not the worst thing ever, but it was ALL over the room and there were more obvious spots that I didn’t even document with pictures. Plus it was just super annoying.

So, one morning when Bryan asked what I would be doing that day while he was at work and I said “nothing” (the exciting life of a post-grad, pre-licensed law student), he suggested that I touch-up the paint in the guest room.  Excellent! Another use for the gallon of white semi-gloss paint that I originally purchased for painting the striped bathroom.  I swear, that paint can will never be empty…I’ve used it a ton and it’s still half full (not half empty…I’m an optimist).

I’m still not great at documenting everything I do, so I don’t really have any pictures of the process of painting the trim.  Let’s just say, what started out as spot-fixing turned into repainting ALL the trim and baseboard in the room.  Besides the new white paint not 100% matching the previous trim color, the new spots made the old look dingy and gross.  It didn’t take long at all – I just used a small angled brush which makes it pretty easy.  I didn’t even use tape (much to Bryan’s dismay – but don’t worry, I hardly made any mistakes!)

Anyways, the “after” pictures wouldn’t show much so I didn’t even take any.  Suffice it to say, it looks much nicer than before in a very non-obvious way. As I was finishing in the guest room and walking downstairs, I realized there was another touch-up project I should tackle while I had all my supplies out; the risers on our staircase.

At first glance they don’t look horrible, but there were all kinds of scuff marks and gross spots all over the place.  The worst was towards the bottom:

Grosssss.  Being that this is the first thing people see when they walk in our front door, I thought we could do better.  After dusting the heck out of the steps (they seem to be a gathering place for dust and cat hair), I just worked my way from top to bottom using the same paint and same brush from the guest room (and same lack of tape…which is why I had to do this project while Bryan was at work).  This was SUPER easy! I took my time to make sure I didn’t get any paint on the wood part of the steps, but the beauty of latex paint is that you can just wipe up any drips or mistakes and no permanent damage is done (not that I had any mistakes…none…really…).

Here are the stairs now. Like I said, don’t be expecting some major revelation…

I know what you’re thinking…”ok, that looks the same”…but wait!  Here’s that yucky bottom step:

See? Much nicer first impression, in my humble opinion :)

xox, katie

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