The Stairs: 0, Kim: 1

It never, ever ceases to amaze us how one coat of paint (or in our case, primer) can make all the difference in a room. With that said – in between scrubbing the walls, priming the walls and disinfecting every single surface on the second floor – the upstairs unit still feels… off. In a dream world, we’d love to have an unlimited budget to just toss out the entire bathroom (and start fresh!), lay down new hardwood floors in the sub-floored rooms and update all the lighting, but we know that’ll come with time. For now, I (because Scott is totally cool with the state of things) need to remember that we still have the rest of this week to clean, clean and clean some more.

But because I’m an impatient person, I needed some instant gratification. Enter: stairs.

When we grow tired of one task, we’ll move on to another – making the whole renovation process more enjoyable (and kicking that burned-out-feeling to the curb). As Scott likes to say, it all has to get done! So when I’d had enough of that second floor, I turned my attention to the stairs. Up came the maroon carpet, up came the rug pad and – 3 hours later – up came the staples (as many as I could find, anyway).

The carpet wrapped around to the second floor landing, and that came up, too. (Eventually, we’d like to open up this doorway a little more, making it a part of the home, rather than feeling like an isolated unit.)

My tools? Besides my sweet yellow gloves (which, by the way, you should see the way they look now – they haven’t left my hands since The Christening!), Scott’s showing off a putty knife, a pair of needle nose pliers and the handiest of them all – a clip removal tool. Scott swears that the last one is the handiest(and cheapest) tool in his arsenal.

Removing the carpet was the easiest part; once I found a loose corner, the whole thing pulled up in sections. I used a sharp utility knife to cut the carpet off in manageable chunks, then continued by ripping up the rug pad (which, like everything in this home, was old, thin, and fell apart in my hands).

Underneath the pads was a non-slip rubber grip on each stair, but luckily, the glue had weakened over time, and they came right up. The hardest part came when it was time to pull out the staples (I was bent over those stairs for hours), but with patience, I was able to dislodge most of them with the claw tool and use the pliers for the stubborn ones. The putty knife came in handy to scrape up debris and comb for any overlooked staples.

The photos don’t show the completely bare stairs (bad blogger, Kim!), but you will see that they’ve been painted brown and red at some point, and sadly, there’s a lot of wear of tear. The good news, however, is that when the carpet was still on, we had assumed that the stairs were crooked and uneven, but luckily, the unsteady feeling we got was simply due to a bad carpet job (or age; let’s give the carpet guy a break).

The bare (albeit, pocked and rough) stairs are already a huge improvement over the carpet, but another big change was taking down the studs where there was once a wall (with our contractor’s blessing, of course!). Now, the view you’ll see from the living room when looking towards the entryway is the photo on the right, below. So open! But at the same time, we’ve gained a proper foyer. How fancy!

Ultimately, we’ll be tiling the entire entryway up to the orange wall (which, by the way, won’t be orange when we’re done; although it’s pretty ironic considering we used to have that orange bedroom, right?), the archway will be taken higher and wider, and we’ll be adding a coat closet (there to the [photo] right of the stairs).

One of the best parts of taking down drywall ourselves is unearthing what lies beneath the surface of the walls. (Not to mention, throwing a sledgehammer through the wall has been an excellent stress reliever.) When we were given the go-ahead pull our the studs ourselves, we were careful to cut them from the bottom and dis-lodge them in one full piece. By doing so, we were able to salvage them for future projects – does anyone notice the similarities of those 100-year-old 2x4s and our big, honking DIY frame? For now, they’re hogging space on the second floor, just so they don’t confused with demo rubble.

Next up for the stairs is the scrubbing of a lifetime, and we may experiment with stripping the paint off. It would be easier to patch the dents and bruises with wood filler and paint them completely, but in our minds, we envisioned dark wood treads with crisp white risers. Of course this causes much more work, which lately, feels like our favorite game to play. (Naturally!)

For now, we’re checking off this box and calling it a win – we have even stairs! They’ve been exposed, and any future steps will be cosmetic – which we all know is the best part.

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  • Amanda - July 17, 2013 - 7:09 AM

    oh man what a difference!!! i am so excited to stalk you guys through this house transformation :)
    stripping paint and/or any old finish off of old wood is one of the most disgustingly awesome part of any project. not that you’re asking for advice or planning on doing more to the stairs in the super near future, but here’s my two cents for when you do get to the point of prettying up the stairs: Citristrip is my current personal favorite stripper – it works great, and it smells like oranges :)ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - July 17, 2013 - 8:24 AM

    Wow! You guys have not wasted any time! Nice work!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 17, 2013 - 8:28 AM

    Amanda, we’ve used Citristrip in the past and found that it works great! Thanks for the tip.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 17, 2013 - 9:47 AM

    I would TOTALLY need some instant gratification every once in a while if I were embarking on this type of project. Love it. (And love your vision for the dark wood/white risers…)

    Also: as someone who lives in a bland box of a 1960s apartment/condo building, I can’t believe someone would cover up that arch.

    Loving the updates. You’re making a lot of progress!ReplyCancel

  • Cait @ Hernando House - July 17, 2013 - 9:53 AM

    Ooh yes, dark tread with crisp white risers sounds lovely!

    I second the Citristrip, possibly combined with a heat gun.ReplyCancel

  • That is a ton of work packed into one blog post. The progress looks amazing!

    I’m curious what kind of gloves you bought that you’re in love with. I just had to chuck a pair that was well past it’s prime and potentially covered in poison ivy juice after battle some in the side yard. So I’m in the market for a new pair.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 17, 2013 - 10:05 AM

    Thanks, guys! A heat gun, that should also be on our list of handy tools to stock up on…

    Heather, I bought an inexpensive pair of all leather gardening gloves – gardening gloves were the only things that fit my tiny Asian hands! Scott already had to buy a second pair, and mine are still going strong.ReplyCancel

  • ann - July 17, 2013 - 3:29 PM

    We can’t wait to see the progress you’ve made in person next weekend. We’ll come ready to work!ReplyCancel

  • Laura at Rather Square - July 17, 2013 - 4:23 PM

    Amazing job! We had old carpeted stairs too (I’ll be posting about that on our blog soon) but opted to recarpet ours for now. So we had the new-carpet installers tear out our old stuff, it was pretty gross. Nice work on the DIY!ReplyCancel

  • Tiny Homestead - July 17, 2013 - 4:48 PM

    loving to get to see all your progress! just wanted to say, no to the heat gun rec’d above if there’s any chance some of that paint is lead paint. Lead vaporizes at high heat so do some research if you go that route.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 17, 2013 - 5:36 PM

    Tiny Homestead, this is why we love you guys. Great point!ReplyCancel

  • Jackie B - July 17, 2013 - 10:13 PM

    Looks like a tough job, but you’ve made a lot of progress!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly Cartwright - July 20, 2013 - 12:38 AM

    I actually enjoying seeing all the things you’ve done. It’s quite hard thing to do but you’re enjoying it. Can’t wait to see the final result.ReplyCancel

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