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Lake House Staircase Makeover: Part I

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How to makeover a staircase with carpet into a classic stained staircase with white risers and balusters. 

Staircase in foyerEntry/Foyer Staircase Makeover

Welcome to the foyer of my house.

Aside from the wonderful lake view, this spacious foyer was one of the features we loved most when we were first shown the house. It is welcoming, open, and airy… all the characteristics I love a room to have. Every other room branches out from it in one way or another.


What I don’t like about the foyer is all of the brown balusters. There are a lot of them….61 to be exact and 4 posts, plus the risers and stringers. I would like them all to be white.

I also don’t like the wasted space underneath the staircase and would like to close it up to create storage so it looks something like this beautiful staircase…

Cronk Duch Architecture foyer staircase

Cronk Duch Architecture

Do you remember the staircase makeover I did a few years ago in my previous house?

How to create impact in a large space without breaking your decorating budget

It was one of the best home improvement projects we ever did. It did take time and lots of effort, but the entire project cost under $50.  I am going to do the same thing to the staircase in our new house.

DIY staircase makeover on a budget

We have already started. Ed removed the carpet runner a few weeks ago.

Stained wood staircase makeover

That is physically the hardest part of the job.

Foyer decorating

I have purchased all the supplies I need to take on stairway makeover #2. This time around though it is going to be a little easier for a few reasons:

  1. I have experience now, having previously made over a staircase with stain and paint.
  2. There was only a carpet runner on the steps. They were not fully upholstered. Removal was a lot easier and there were a lot less staples and nails to remove (Ed may not agree).
  3. The wood on the staircase is much nicer than at our previous house, less knots and staple holes that needed to be sanded smooth.
Foyer staircase makeover

I found stain to match the steps and will be painting the risers and same way I wrote about in this post. 

Foyer staircase

Ed did his part, now I can start my part, but before I can paint…

Home improvement staircase makeover tutorial

…I have to mask off the area around every baluster. Sometimes the most time consuming part of the job is the prep work. I have one down…60 more to go.

Want to See How the Staircase Came Out?

Update: The staircase makeover is complete. Here are the links to the posts on how we changed it from creating a hidden door under the staircase to painting all the balusters:

If you would like to see the BEFORE and AFTER of my previous staircase makeover, you can find it here: My Foyer Staircase Makeover Reveal

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  1. Hi Diane. I like your ideas for your stairway and entry. it will look beautiful! You have great, economical ideas. By the way, I have your book “Instant Decorating” that I got many, many years ago. It was probably my favorite decorating book that I referred to many, many times. I ended up looking up your name one day to see if you had any other books, and if you were still in the “decorating business” and that is where I found you had a blog! I was so happy about that! I have been viewing your blog for several months now, but this is my first time to comment. I really enjoy it!! Congratulations on your “new to you” lake house. It will be fun to watch the ways you will make it your own!

  2. Something that you might want to consider is using Old Masters gel stain. I’ve done what you are getting ready to do. Staining with the gel is less messy and you don’t have to use a stripper. Just light sanding. This stuff is like spreading chocolate pudding. I did my stairway in my old house using stripper and stain. Never again since I discovered Old Masters Gel stain.

    1. Hi Gloria – I have never used Old Masters. I will have to look into it. Since the stain on the steps is very dark, I am just going to blend in the new stain and not strip the existing off. Ed already sanded the center to ready it for the stain. I used Minwax before and thought it was easy. If the Gel is even easier… will have to give it a go. Thanks for sharing.

  3. It is going to look awesome! And, I agree with you about closing in underneath the stairs for storage because now it is just wasted space. I went to Greenville, SC for the weekend and thought of you when I past the sign that said “Lake Murray” and was wondering what project you were working on at the time. And, I thought of you again as I was driving back to the beach yesterday and coming through Columbia in that awful, pouring down rain. Loving all of your updates!

    1. Hi Carol – Greenville is such a great city. We have friends who live there. They are the ones that told us about Lake Murray. We have lots to thank them for. :-) My sister came to visit over the weekend. I was so excited for her to see the house and the lake in the sunshine, but it was overcast every day. It has been so rainy, tomorrow sounds like it is going to be just as awful or worse.

      1. I know. It is rainy and dreary here at the beach. But, at least you are getting a lot of these projects done before the spring/summer rolls in……because then, you will not want to be inside but outside on that dock and enjoying the lake. I am betting that you will be blogging from your “outdoor office” once it gets warmer!