Is it easy to update a staircase?

Interior stylist and guest blogger Maxine Brady explains how overhauling a dated staircase has transformed the entrance to her Brighton terraced home

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I’ve put a lot of time and thought into my tiny hallway. It’s a slowly emerging makeover, which has gone from dreary to utterly divine. The staircase I inherited with the house was a hatchet job. The original Victorian staircase had been ripped out and replaced with stained wooden planks of wood.

Upstairs was not much better. The original banister and handrail had been painted in layers of yellowing paint, which was chipped in places. The spinals are original, but they are very ‘skinny’ looking and didn’t balance with the handrail.

can you update your staircase before and after

When I first moved in, I painted the staircase white to help it blend into the living room. I did a little video, which you can watch here if you want to see the staircase in more detail. In a nutshell, it was unsafe, unstylish and very unlovely.

mid way through the staircase renovation

I started this whole makeover by ripping the doors off the under-stairs-cupboard to see what I had under there. Surprisingly, there was a pretty big space, which I plan to maximise with a neat storage system to house my hoover and iron, plus lots of coats.

I’d see lots of staircase designs I liked, including modern metal and glass, but I wanted a classic staircase, which I could always paint in a modern colour at a later date.

staircase midway through renovation

In the end, I picked out Hemlock Colonial Spindles and matching Newell base and handrail from Richard Burbridge. I used the online Stairplanner tool [http://stairplanner.richardburbidge.com] to design the staircase and it was at my house, ready to install, within a week.

staircase landing renovation

I got in my carpenter, Steve, to help me install it, which was less than a two-day job. On the first day, he pulled out the old elements, which easy to do as it was they were flimsy. He then put in the lower base rail and attached the spindles following the line of the staircase.

staircase after image before renovation

This is how it looked by the end of day one – such a huge transformation. Steve had to cut a curved section of the banister to create an angle to lead up the stairs.

On day two he tackled the upstairs, replacing the spindles with more ornate ones, which has really smartened up the landing.

staircase painting

In less than two days I had a new staircase. It was a fuss-free process (compared to other projects I have taken on in this house), and was a pretty dramatic makeover for this corner of my home. Next on my to-do list is to tackle that under-stairs cupboard.

The staircase cost

24 Hemlock Colonial Spindles = £158

3M of Hemlock handrail and up-easing = £182

3M of Hemlock base rail = £73

Hemlock Newell base, turn and opening cap = £140

Labour = £250

Total: £806

How long did it take?

  • 1 x week from order to delivery
  • 1 x weekend stripping back the wood
  • 1.5 x days to install
  • 1 x afternoon painting and waxing the staircase

The verdict

Even though this is possibly the tiniest makeover in my home, it’s one of the most successful. I’ve gone from an eyesore to a staircase that makes a great first impression in my home. As it is located in the living room, the new staircase has helped the space feel more pulled together. It’s also much safer, with a handrail and spinals that meet building regulations. It was definitely worth the time and effort.

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