Entry and Stair Review


Okay so this budget stair remodel is seemingly the project that never ended… It was one of the first things we demo-ed and one of the last things we wrapped up.  The ultimate stair makeover!  You can see how it all went down at that link.  I do however want to review it a bit for you to see.

I will admit other people could have gotten this done in a lot faster manner, but I am a slow like molasses remodeler when it effect more than one space.  And this “little” –ahem, huge remodel effected the entry, stairs and living room, which also was effected by the kitchen, so I had to know what everything was going to look like all at once, and I am a sort of plan and change things as you go girl….  (And this people, is why I haven’t built a house yet. I will someday but there are TOO many things to think about that effect each other.  I am just not ready to make that kind of time and brainpower investment yet!)

But anyway, we all need to be reassured that yes, this project ended so here is a sneak peek!

Entry Reveal and Remodel budget stair remodel

Ahh… so much better. than the before…

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Let’s chat shall we, about how we got to this point…The staircase in the entry was one of the things that I liked about this house, but in its original state it made the entry space feel SO SMALL!  I really wanted to have an entry space and not just arrive in the living room.

I love the idea of entry spaces and it is one thing I really haven’t had in my houses (technically in my first house I had one but it was all doorways so I couldn’t make anything of it).

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I wanted to make these stairs into a feature for the house.  Something like these inspiration shots I was looking at, this is in the days before Pinterest, so I am not sure of all the sources and many of them were ripped and scanned from my favorite magazines (especially This Old House  image 1,3 and 4 at least– I heart TOH!) Sorry no source for 2, image 5 BHG image 6 Houzz.- I got them off of my Pinterest boards since they had sources)


Stair case awesome design


Inspiration 2

www dot homedesignersoftware dot com1 stairs

staircase remodel inspiration

We drew up some plans and sketches of the space.  It was important to me that the staircase matched the living room, but that they didn’t compete.  Also like I said before I wanted the entry to be it’s own space or a different “room” if you will, so I chose not to add the wainscoting to the walls, but I did carry the base molding through.  We were also planning on adding the same door molding treatment and crown molding to the entry (but ran out of time).

**TIP: One of the best ways to figure out what you can do with a space very quickly (even for the artistically challenged) is to take a picture of the space and sketch out different alternatives over the image.   Here was one of my first goes at sketching out the plan.

Entry sketch 1jpg

Then we cleaned it up the plan a bit.  A few things obviously changed, but you get the picture.line drawing (2)

Then because my husband is an over achiever, we drew it up in 3d and rendered the image.  It looked exactly like I wanted, and you could see how much bigger the space was.  (this picture was not only figuring out the stair layout but how the arch and columns we added in would look)


So this monster of a project all started while my husband was away at work… (BAD WIFE!) The stair carpet was crappy to say the least, and I really wanted my staircase to be amazing.  So I peeled a corner of one of the steps away to see what was there… and tucked it back in before he got home.  Then of course I told him about it, and showed him what I did… I’m not that sneaky!   Obviously the project was just a little more than finishing a beautifully built stair, cuz out staircase was a mess!

Ripping off the Carpet

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Luckily my husband wasn’t too mad about my little carpet escapade and let me rip off the rest of the carpet.  We had very little, if any budget for this project so we tried to work with what was existing, and for the most part we did.

The stair runners were just structural 2 x 12’s in case you were wondering.  and they were covered with plaster splatters from our much hated wall texture.  But we didn’t clean it off right away because of the mess it would have caused.  SO instead, we (meaning mostly Justin) started removing the hand railing, which we kept intact so that we could replace them after we made the changes.

**TIP: Reusing anything that is in decent shape is always a big money saver- however, it is not always a time saver, so you need to weigh out your options and plan accordingly.  (In this case it was both money and time saving, because we took the railing out in 2 large chunks, using mostly our reciprocating saw, and all we had to do to replace them was cut them to size.… just saying!)

Taking our the handrail and building in the structure of the new newel post:

Staircase Progression (65) Staircase Progression (92)So, after we had opened up the space by moving the soon to be (ha, ha… two years later) new newel posts back 2 feet.  We went about expanding the bottom two stairs to wrap around the soon to be newel posts.  So this was the first purchase for this project.  I think it was around $50 to get 2 – 8’ 2 x 12’s.  For the actual structure of the bottom stairs we reused any 2×4’s and 2×6’s that we already head.

Expanding the bottom stair:

Staircase Progression (107)  Staircase Progression (116) Staircase Progression (121)

When he installed the new bottom two stairs, he also routed the front edges of the 2×12 on the top and bottom, so that the nose of the stair tread had a more pleasing and looked more finished and less like a 2×12!  Then Justin took the time to carefully pry off each glued and nailed stair tread and stand it outdoors and route the front edges.  Then he re-glued(construction adhesive) and nailed or screwed them back in place.

One of the issues we found when we were replacing the stair treads was a big gap on the both sides of the tread (up against the wall). We didn’t want to cover the gap with strange moldings, because inevitably that would look a little hokey in my opinion.  So we thought about our choices and we used our experience with adding a wall stringer after the fact, to the first staircase in our first house (part 1, part 2 and part 3) to fill the gaps.

Adding a second wall stringer to fill gaps:

Staircase Progression (129) Staircase Progression (135) Staircase Progression (136)

Staircase Progression (142)

The stair tread covered the seams on the wall stringer and there were no big gaps on the side anymore!  Yay!

Okay so they pretty much stayed like this for two years, while I had babies and we dealt with life… Remodeling, may be our hobby, but we still have to live.

We were waiting on the color of stain choice.  We didn’t know what color our floors were going to be, so we couldn’t match it to the stairs. Instead we just waited, after a while we got most of the living room done including purchasing and installing our new flooring.  But after having the living room floor done and a second beautiful daughter born (and the use of my body back- thank heaven for a working body!) I got sick of the crappy looking stairs, and decided to go ahead and start the finishing process.

And this time while my husband was away at work something exciting happened… the stairs got stained!  p.s. he didn’t even notice!!!! (Bad Husband!-What do I do projects for when you are away at work?… Basically to get a big bunch of praise when your home – my love language apparently!)

Staining Stair Treads a Walnut Finish

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At the same time we finished the two landings.  (I left the 5 upper stairs carpet, and while it may seem strange it was the easiest place to stop the wood since our family room upstairs had carpeting.  It wasn’t visible from down stairs…

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Next we cut out new stair risers, painted them white, added polyurethane and glued them in place with construction adhesive (to avoid patching and sanding holes since they were already painted and sealed.

New Stair Risers

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We also wrapped up the side of the stairs which were on hold because of the living room design from forever ago.  This project of the living room, stairs and kitchen was so much like a life sized 3-d puzzle, figuring it out as you go.  Vanna show it off, oh my goodness, Etta was so little… Sweet Girl!

5-26 (5)5-26 (14)5-28 (11) Finally Justin built our newel posts and we have a tutorial of how he did that.

Building a Custom Newel Post Tutorial:

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Finally having a newel post might have had me dancing and praising the heavens!

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Justin installed the railings again, which I don’t think I actually photographed the process of- it was that fast, he just cut it to fit and nailed it back in place!  But here are some more shots of the after:

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The biggest change associated with the hand railing was wrapping it the unfinished arch.  It looked really beautiful when it was done.  Especially after I painted it black.

6-18 (38) 6-18 (39)We made this little child’s gate  from a sheet of vinyl trellis wrapped with a  few moldings on the top and bottom.  We used it the whole time we lived there, it was a great idea, and is REALLY nice for long spans for cheap.  (great for little dogs)

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Okay, I showed you what changes were happening in the entry so all I have left is to show you the final images of the stairs and entry, but this post is getting so long that I will show you all the finals tomorrow!  If you want to see the whole stair process you just need to check out the stairs tag!

Another Teaser?  Okay!

DIY stair Remodel, removing carpet and new newel posts

Meet the Author: Cassity

Cassity started Remodelaholic with her husband, Justin, to share their love for knocking out walls together. She is an interior designer, wife, and mother of two. She and Justin have remodeled three Read More


  1. Sherry says

    I am in love already!!! Our entryway is small like yours looked at first…now I have hope that our can look as good as yours!


    I really like it. I want to do something to our stairwell. It’s dark and I hate the carpeting. I’ve liked the steps on Pinterest that have numbers or writing on them. Still thinking, but really want to make sure it what I want to live with. Thanks for sharing.

  3. CJ says

    I love this project. I especially love the blue picture on the landing. Did you make this or buy it? If you bought it, where? Can you post a photo of it up-close? Thanks!

  4. Cassie says

    It looks amazing! Do you have any tips and/or tutorials/instructions on making an archway like that? Wanting to do one between my living room and kitchen!

    • says

      Cassie, We posted a bunch of posts about how we did the columns and archway in all of our living room posts, technically there are about three or four, so here is the link to the living room progress. If you start and the bottom and work your way up you should make it though the whole process to at least give you an idea of how we did it! (and I will talk to my husband about making a tutorial just for that)

  5. Alexandra says

    I love that gate! We’ve had issues with stairs and dogs for the past three moves but have never come up with something so well blended to the rest of the house! I am wondering how exactly it functions? Does it simply slide to the side, or is it hinged? Either way it is gorgeous!

    • says

      Alexandra, in this case it slide to move out of the way, but we also have tried (and it worked really well)screw hooks in to the wall and then hung it from those. Hope that helps!

  6. Chante says

    What a fantastic project! I’ll be linking to it on our Flooring pinboard. Check it out at pinterest.com/homedepot.

    – Chante

  7. Nicole says

    Wow! I am so inspired! I apologize if i kissed this in the post but did you replace the wood on your stairs or was that the wood that was under the carpet? ?? Thank you.

  8. Jenny says

    We just pulled up our carpet and found the same problem with the gaps on the sides. Except, our treads are made of particle board! So I looked into replacing them with pine treads, but it is still out of the budget. I looked at the 2×12 at lowes and they are about 3/4” thicker than a normal tread. Will that cause problems or make the steps feel off? I appreciate any help! I think we are WAY in over our heads for the little Pinterest project I had planned! Ha ha

    • says

      Jenny one thing you could do, is to do a test with the additional height. Buy a 3/4″ board and cut it into small 6″ pieces. Set those pieces on the existing tread. This will give you an idea if a 1 1/2″ tread would feel off. I hope that helps. Sorry it took so long to respond.

  9. says

    RE: Entry and Staircase Makeover reveal
    Take a bow for your work. Beautiful job. Thanks for the step by step pics. I’ll start mine one day soon. This posting gives me courage to take it on.

  10. Deborah says

    OMG. The “after” photo does not even look like the same house. Your staircase and entryway looked so ordinary before. But now, well, they look spectacular. Great job, guys! We are paying to have wood stairs put in and wrought-iron balusters with newell posts. I just hope they turn out as beautifully as yours did!!

  11. says

    You doing your Victory Descent made me crack up. I can totally relate to your elation. Your stairs turned out beautifully. Thanks for sharing.

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