The staircase itself was equally dark and narrow, and the room that we think was originally an upstairs parlor extended out over the base of the stairs, creating a pinch point that made it impossible to get a queen-sized box spring up the stairs. Our box spring went in by way of being lifted up the front of the house and into breeze porch via the openings that no longer had screens on them. I’m sure you can see the eventual issues now that we’ve put windows in place on the breeze porch.
The stairs are probably the biggest change we’ve made in the house. Really it’s more of a rollback or restoration than it is a change. You see sometime in the 40’s (we think), the house underwent a fairly major rennovation. From what we uncovered when we stripped the living room walls and ceiling out, we think there may have been a fire and the repair of that damage opened up the opportunity for some fairly significant remodeling. It appears that they switched from wood heat to fuel-oil furnaces. There was a wall furnace in the living room, and another one upstairs to service two bedrooms. Although Dad says the upstairs one was never used because it made Grandpa too nervous. At the same time, the downstairs ceilings were lowered by about 18 inches, and the stairs were enclosed. This effectively halved the amount of space that needed to be heated, but resulted in a hallway that was kind of dark and narrow.
We were pretty sure we could do away with the pinch-point by shrinking the room that was now just storage, but we weren’t sure how the enclosing of the stairs had been accomplished, so we had resigned ourselves to the dark narrow hall and the dark narrow stairs. But, during the demolition of the fir-tex (old sheetrock), Steve found what you see below. Notice that the wall appears to have been built right on top of the stairs. It looked like we would be able to reopen the staircase after all. Now, this eliminated the dreamed-of enlargement of the downstairs bath, and created a bit of strife with Steve as he wrestled with the trade-off, but I had no trouble with the concept.
So, 18 months or so later, we have an open but unfinished staircase. Although we do at least have a railing installed. At the moment, we have a sheet of plastic where that wall used to be, but I’ll live with that, since it means that Steve is once again making progress on this little project and is sanding the floors and stairs in preparation for staining. Actually, he’s nearly done and has only the final sand left on the upstairs floors, as well as a little trim work on the stairs. Then he can start applying stain. He says he’ll be done in about 2 weeks. I’ll be happy with a month. Of course, his true motivation is the fact that he’s can’t work outside for more than an hour or so until the floors and stairs are done, and he really really wants to get to that barn project.
If you want to see more pictures that were taken as the work progressed, please visit http://www.hardinsonline.net/stairs_hall.htm