When we bought our house, the stairs and upstairs hall were covered in brown short shag carpet, circa 2000. You can imagine how this kind of carpet looked on the stairs. It was very worn and of course did nothing for the house.
I have always been a bit puzzled and maybe a tad disappointed that my Queen Anne did not have an impressive stair. It is just a narrow hall leading up to two small landings. The only interesting/ beautiful thing about it is the simple, but original hand rail and also the large double windows at the landing.
Finally I could take the worn carpeting no longer. I didn’t know what I’d find underneath, but I was convinced it would be an improvement.
It turns out, it was better (through the delusional lens of an old house person), but it still wasn’t good, or pretty.
The steps were painted at least twice (yellow, then grey). And then for who knows how long, some sort of finish- maybe a wax? was applied in a VERY thick layer. There was also some purple stenciling on that wax. Someone had tried (and failed) to improve its appearance. And the staples. OMG the staples. Hundreds and hundreds of different models and sizes. And then there was that one broken step. Ugh.
One step and one hour at a time, I removed the staples. I think there were 50 in each step.
Then I waited. A year.
Then I summoned the courage to begin what has become kind of a major project.
My thought process:
-I want to refinish the stairs and hall.
-Then I better paint the baseboards.
-I can’t put ANOTHER coat of paint on these baseboards, I’m going to have to strip them.
-If I am going to the work of stripping them, I might as well restore them with a finish, not paint.
-If I am finishing the baseboards, I better finish the adjacent trim.
-Obviously this is the time to fix/ restore the windows.
-This wax stuff is sooo thick it will burn through way too many sanding pads. And there is lead paint under there, I don’t want to sand that.
-I guess I better strip the stairs and hall.
-I cannot believe what a horrible, horrible job stripping it (This thought has been a common thread throughout).
After stripping the entire first flight of stairs and the first landing, I am so very excited for this project to be done. Not just to be rid of this mess in my life, but to see my dream revealed.
Even at this point, the stair way seems SO much lighter and cheerier. The lines of the planks add texture and interest. There are details in the trim that I didn’t even know were there before. The stair treads are beautifully imperfect- cupped and scarred from 128 years of shoes. I really think my plain and simple stair may soon be all that it was meant to be.