One Room Challenge

Stairwell Makeover: ORC Week 5

Thanks for joining me again this week! If you missed any of the previous weeks in the One Room Challenge Linkup you can see them here. week 1  \\  week 2  \\  week 3  \\  week 4


It may not look like I did too much this week, but I assure you that I have been working my tail off. I’ve gotten the risers primed which I did with 2 coats because it wasn’t covering the unsightly Halloween risers evenly. I’ve also started to prime the balusters, which is proving to be quite time consuming, but let’s be honest, I didn’t really expect them to be quick or easy. 


I did strip the brown paint on the banister and newel post caps! I can’t recommend Citristrip enough. It doesn’t send fumes throughout your house like past strippers I’ve used and it works just as well. I’m really happy with how the handrails and caps turned out.




1. Just pour a bit into a metal container and apply with a paint brush: I used a clean tin can and a disposable brush. Apply a thick coat, but not so thick that it’s dripping.

2. Let it sit for 30 minutes and scrape it off: I used a putty knife even though the directions suggested a plastic scraper, I was just very careful not to nick the wood. Any access can be wiped or scrubbed off with an abrasive pad, like a scouring dish pad. This worked well in the curved areas of my handrail where my straight putty knife couldn’t really get into.

3. Once clear of all the old paint and the surface is dry sand your wood: I sanded it down with 120 grit and again with 220 grit to get a super smooth surface.

4. Clean all the dust off with a sweeper and a tack cloth and you are ready for staining!


In addition to stripping the banister and caps I also stained and varnished them. You can see the finished  product in the pic above. So I’m nearly finished.

Now I bet you are wondering what’s left! I’m hoping to get as much finished as I can next week but I will be cutting it close for sure.

  • Finish painting risers and spindles
  • Procure toe strip, paint and install
  • Procure draperies, trim + Hardware
  • Attach trim to draperies and install
  • Paint hall trim and doors

I just have to keep reminding myself what I’m working towards.

Sounds like a lot right? But with any luck my balustrade will be just as pretty as the picture above. Join me next Thursday for the reveal! In the meantime, check out Linda’s ORC and all the Wednesday participants here. You can also see the 50+ linking participants and what they are up to here.

Stairwell Makeover: ORC Week 4

We survived the weekend!! Hallelujah! I can’t begin to thank my parents for hosting us and my husband being so flexible and putting his life on hold for a couple of days while I knocked out the staining and sealing of the stairwell.

If you are just joining me I’m giving my Stairwell a Makeover. I’ve ripped up the carpet here, sanded the steps here and now I’ve stained and sealed the floors.

I was dreading this part of the reno. I’ve never stained such a large surface before so I was rather nervous. I consulted my father who is a pro at all things construction. I always feel better after talking with him, he breaks it down for me and answers all my absurd questions and frantic phone calls.

After the floor was sanded and cleaned of all dust I began staining. Because my space wasn’t super enormous I just used a 4 inch brush to brush on the stain and wiped away any excess stain with a clean white t-shirt that I stole from my husband’s drawer, shhhhh! It took me about an hour to apply all the stain, mainly because there were so many corners due the fact I’m staining stairs.






I think the stain turned out beautifully! The color could not match the first floor better, which is especially nice considering I didn’t want to mix a custom stain, I’ve done it before for projects and it’s a long process, unless you get lucky. I ended up using Rustoleum Ultimate Wood Stain in American WalnutRustoleum Wood Stain American Walnut

For the polyurethane I went the route of water based as opposed to oil based and use Rustoleum Ultimate Polyurethane. It is supposed to dry in less time and clean up is a breeze with water. And it lived up to all the hype.


The recoat time was 2 hours and I was able to do just that. The stain was another story. It claimed to dry in 1 hour, however the day I stained it was raining outside and the humidity in the air wasn’t helping me out at all. It ended up taking 6 hours before I could add the Polyurethane.

After the first coat of Polyurethane I filled 14 billion tiny holes from where the carpet had been tacked down. This is just a time suck. There is no quick way to do it. I’ve tried in the past filling with a sand-able and stainable filler but I don’t much care for the look. I much prefer the wax pencils from Minwax.

Wk 4 Filling-Holes-FancyFreeMe

After the holes were filled and my fingers were brittle I applied 2 more coats of Polyurethane. And let me just tell you my steps are looking mighty fine!



Up next is painting! I’m doing the risers and all the trim on the second floor in the hall.



I also have plans for stripping the banister and painting the balusters white. It’s going to be awesome. I mean seriously, look at those steps, it can only get better.

Thanks for visiting! Come back next week to see what kind of progress I’m making. I’m so excited to paint the risers! You can hop over to Calling it Home to see who else is linking up in the One Room Challenge here.

Stairwell Makeover: ORC Week 3

If you are just joining me, Welcome! I’m in the middle of revamping my stairwell for Calling it Home’s One Room Challenge, you can catch up here for a little more back story and before pics.

This past week was sanding. Can I just take a moment and tell you how freaking sore my arms, neck and shoulders are?! It took me several hours to do, mostly because it’s just awkward sanding stairs with all those corners, and 4 days later I’m still feeling it.



Here’s a picture reference for you to see the sanded vs. stained and sealed that I was removing. The floors are 90+ years old so it’s never going to be perfect but I think I did a pretty good job cleaning them up.



These steps have been throughly sanded. I’m staining this week and my lovely parents are playing host to us while the floors dry. I never thought I’d have to move out of my house for this project, but we won’t have access to any of the bedrooms or the bathroom, so we can’t really stay here, esp with a toddler running around.

I’ve got the stain color selected. It looks off in this picture, much closer in person, just keep in mind the wood I sampled it on isn’t oak like the stairs and I didn’t seal the sample either, which affects the color.



Once the staining is complete I’ll be moving on to those beat-up risers. I know what you are thinking, yes I’m going to miss my Halloween stairs, but I’ll get through some how. I’m also planning on stripping my handrail and newel post caps. I’ve never stripped anything but windows, which were laying flat on a pair of saw horses. So if anyone has tips on stripping something that isn’t flat I’d love to hear your advice!

I’m also hoping to redress my window and if the universe aligns right maybe I’ll get a new light fixture too!


Thanks for visiting! Come back next week to see what kind of progress I’m making. And if you’re looking for more projects to gawk at, check out Linda’s ORC linkup (here) or the actual ORC (here)

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