Operation Renovation {The Stairwell}

One of the first things we noticed when we initially toured The Brainerd Street House was the stairwell.  It was pretty.  It was, what I could envision as being the perfect stairwell. Perfect for little feet to run down on Christmas morning. Perfect for sliding down on cardboard boxes.  But, the reality was that it was far from perfect - there were no railings for heaven's sake!!!

It was such a dark stairwell, and if you were over six feet tall you would hit your head on the ceiling.  It just needed a little vision to turn into the beauty it should have been.

Here you can see how dark and uninviting it was, almost a little creepy if you ask me.  But that could also be because of the torn apart walls too.

I knew it had some serious potential, I mean, look at that newel post!!  It has so much gorgeous detail.  However, someone obviously had no regard for the spindles or hand rail, as they were in a pile, out back, just rotting away.  It was horrible.  Here's a picture from the second floor.  When I say this house was torn apart, it was seriously torn apart. 

So after much deliberation, we decided to take out this bathroom on the second story. Sure, we would lose a little square footage, but overall, we would gain a large open and beautiful stairwell.

Under this old bathroom were some seriously  heavy beams.  It took a couple of really good friends to help us out with this one.  We are forever grateful, as this was no easy task! 

After removing the bathroom floor, it was amazing how light and open the space was.  We went back and forth with what to do here - large mirrors, one large arched window, or a massive art gallery wall. We finally decided windows were the right option, and with the era of the home, we chose three narrow rectangular windows to adorn each landing.  We also decided to run the stairs all the way up to the attic.  This was again, another fun adventure.

Here is a picture of my husband cleaning out the attic space to make way for the new stairwell header.  There was so much coal soot from the coal burning fire places in the house.


Here I am on the frame of the new stairwell landing that leads to the third story, which is currently the attic.

After the new portion of the stairs were framed in, the new windows went in.  You can't really tell from the pictures, but it was so much brighter right away!

This was quite the project and we are crazy proud of the stairwell.  I actually forgot how much work went into this portion of our renovation.  So, here is what we have now.  Quite the transformation if you ask me!

I really wanted to focus on the beauty of the architectural aspects of our new stairwell, so I kept the wall decorations to a minimum.  Many would want to fill each window pane with pictures, or art, but I kept them blank.  I think old windows are so beautiful just by themselves. 

Lighting the space was a challenge to figure out what would look best.  At the end of the day, we decided to hang a double chandelier.  With some help from our electricians, we accomplished the look!  We also had to replace all the spindles and handrails with new ones, although we tried to keep with the historic look. 

In the picture above, you can see the second floor landing with stairs that lead up to the attic.  We hope to one day transform that space into a large tv room and extra bedroom.  But that's for another day.....for now, I'll just enjoy all of our beautiful windows.