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Our house was built in 1999. A family of 8 lived here, 6 of whom were under 5 feet tall. Even though the house wasn’t THAT old, there sure had been a lot of wear and tear before we came along. As you can imagine a lot of damage was under the 4 foot high mark on the drywall.
We’ve been here 12 years already and have made lots of cosmetic changes (and some repairs, of course) over that time. In the early years, I literally spent days with a tub of spackle and a putty knife in my hand. Most of it on my knees, filling holes from toy cars being smashed into the walls.
Here’s one of the very first projects I tackled that Fall. This had to be the ugliest stairwell to a basement than I had ever seen.
(There’s a much better “After” photo at the end of this post.)
What do you think? Pretty ugly, am I right?
To make it even worse, when someone came into our house and looked to the right, this is what they saw! We had to change it and fast.
Painting a stairwell is a huge pain in the you know what…it’s so high and so hard to reach every little spot. We were pretty determined that we were doing this job once…one time only. We’d do it right and we would never have to do it again.
Here’s how we did it…
Our Basement Stairwell Reno:
I moved a bunch of stuff, swept and then vacuumed the stairs. We got rid of the hand rail and will replace that with a better one. Graham set up a ladder in the stairwell with boards with bracing. We could walk on it and not be worried at all about falling.
Out came the bucket of Spackle and the putty knife. We spent hours filling holes. Then we started sanding. We sanded and filled, sanded and filled again. Filling drywall needs to be done properly or you will always see where you have patched and filled.
We covered the top and bottom exits with plastic drop sheets to keep as much of the drywall dust in as we could. A messy, messy job. We dragged the shop vac to the house and used that for the cleanup. Drywall dust is not something you want to ruin your vacuum cleaner over!
Once the dust settled and we had wiped down the walls, we started painting. I managed to talk Graham into doing the upper trim part because I was still too nervous to get up on the ladder. With an extension pole on a paint roller, I got the walls done – three really good coats. I’m NOT doing this stairwell again!
We took the scaffolding away and of course, the lower half was much easier and quicker to get painted. The hardest part of this project was already done!
For the stairs, I painted them. They were just unfinished stair treads and we weren’t sure how we wanted to cover them. So I just painted them. That’s all I did, cleaned them and painted them white.
Every couple of years when Graham’s away, I repaint them. Easier to do with just one person in the house. I usually do every second stair, so I can still get down there if I need something. The next day, I do the other ones.
The landing is where Graham put in some extra time and it really shows. It’s very clean looking, but fits the country style we are looking for. He trimmed it out in knotty pine panelling, which wasn’t expensive at all. And he didn’t need much – just enough for the two small walls.
He added a ledge from pine beetle killed wood that he cut and milled from a tree on our property. You can see the blue running through the wood – that is the effect of having the beetle in that tree.
Here’s a few dead standing pine trees killed by the beetle. It’s the best firewood because it is completely dry when you take it down. You can split some and throw it straight in the woodstove, no aging required!
And here’s the finished basement stairwell. It looks so much better than before! We are really happy with the way it turned out. This project cost less than $150 and has made a huge difference when you first come in the door. So much better!
I added a wrought iron trellis – I wanted something with a lot of height and it was the easiest thing I could think of!
I just change out the decor depending on the season and it adds a nice touch to the new stairwell. Much better than the dingy path to the basement that was there before!
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