• amyrexdesigns

Not Expecting THAT!

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

When we moved into our home last year in June, I scheduled the demo crew right away. We had two weeks (with escrow closing later then expected) to get it ready to at least sleep in while the kids finished school and we could live in our Long Beach home. Our schedule at the time was INSANE! My husband and or I would wake up before the sun was up, drive to the new house (about 50 minutes away) to take down dated drapery, start prepping walls for paint, then begin painting. We were in a race to stay ahead of the floor installer that was working right behind us. We would work for a few hours, to only return home to get kids off to school, continue to pack our home, then travel back to our new home at night to squeeze in more work. Monsters and Motrin were being consumed like never before. The aches and pains were real and we realized the last six years in our home, we aged a bit!


We decided to go with engineered hardwood flooring (top middle pic, our selection on left side) in all bedrooms (except for our bedroom, we opted on carpet), living room, family room, hallways and the dining room; ceramic tile in the kitchen, laundry room and our daughter's bathroom downstairs. So what I haven't covered are the stairs. They had a plush beige carpet. The top left imagine shows our youngest who could not resist sliding down the stairs at first site! Needless to say, the stairs were left bare naked with plywood for WAY TO LONG after the demo crew pulled up the dusty carpet. My kids gave me the hardest time and it was just embarrassingly unfinished FOREVER! Unfortunately, life was crazy after moving in and it fell off the list.

In January I began searching for finished carpenter's to help with the project. I reached out to a few local crews. I was surprised to hear the look I was going for was $$$. You see, when I start thinking about a project, I get a random number in my mind and hope it lands in the vicinity of the random number. When beginning a project, it's important to outweigh cost vs. return on investment. I do not want to "over-upgrade" my home, or even downgrade it. Having never contracted out work for stairs for client's or myself, I was naive to the stair game.

A local friend shared with me the contractor that recently worked on her stairs, I contacted him, sent my drawings and was shocked to hear his bid was $22k! Say WHAT??? Ok, so I'll throw out some figures. I seriously thought the stairs would be about $4-6k. I was not planning to spend the amount I would for a brand new economy car. I froze. I dropped the project like a hot potato and ignored it for a minute, or maybe a few months. You guys, it's a struggle being your own designer. Somedays, I want a designer to just pick me up in her arms, tell me it's all going to be alright and guide me into the right decisions...Oh and share her favorite trusted sub contractors. It's near impossible to do this for yourself when you are overwhelmed. The design below left is by the ever-talented https://www.studio-mcgee.com

and was the for-front for my inspiration. The image below right is from Pinterest and gave me an idea of what it would look like to incorporate the knuckle feature on the balusters. The particular style was a bit outside of my zone. I opted for two single round balusters, then one knuckle to bring in the right amount of detail for us.

The fantastic news is I found the right carpenter for me! He's been incredible from the beginning. Ironically, I found him through an experienced ironworker on a Facebook group I belong to. When the ironworker came out to show me a hand-welded baluster, I let him know I was still looking for the right carpenter. Next appointment, they both came out and we created our production plan.

The stairs treads, white risers and trim have all been installed. They sanded down and created a custom stain to blend with the engineered hardwood that I had installed when we moved in. To keep cost down, we are keeping the existing posts and handrail. I fought it for too long. I leaned in to what the house needs. Seriously. I want to upgrade it with matte black iron balusters, but want to keep some of the beautiful features this home has from its beginning in 1983. You know, this is still the newest home we've ever owned. We take a classic, lived in approach to the homes we live in. They have character and so much charm. It's been thrilling from the moment we first viewed our now home, to look at the EXTRA, unneccessary fuss in the house, and imagine the simplistic bones the home carries.

I can't wait to update you on the finished look of the stairs! To add chaos to the chasm of life, I was searching for the right #dutchdoor since our front door broke. The money I saved on doing the extra leg work and sticking to my initial budget for the stairs, allowed for a new door. Oh, and now for an entry #chandelier. When does it end? Well, as soon as the above are complete, I'll only be planning for the next project to push through the holidays. Did I mention we bought a fixer? It's glorious, but patience will pay off and we will get there...someday!


Since we are keeping the Red Oak handrail and posts, the stair treads were fabricated in Red Oak. It kept the material cost down by thousands of dollars. I also feel, they need to carry the same wood grain since they are touching. Again, this was leaning into the home's original character, but updating with color, stain and materials.

I can't thank you enough for reading along. Please share and let your friends know about my project. I will be sharing more on other social media platforms!

Happy Monday,


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