top of page

A Major Staircase Makeover - Brooklyn Brownstone Inspired!

Many of us have memories associated with stairs. Sitting on the stoop of your building or porch chatting it up with your neighborhood friends. Family holiday pictures along a staircase Brady-Bunch style. A prom night or wedding day decent as your parents or date welcome you with glowing smiles. Whether you were a kid sliding down a banister or a tourist ascending the numerous steps to the top of a lighthouse, hopefully your memories were a positive one. Personally, I always dreamed of having a staircase in the heart of my new home and while it wasn’t a deal breaker when looking for a house, the stairs definitely drew me in when I saw this one. Sold!

With a little imagination and plenty of motivation (and a few extra helping hands), you can take a builder-grade staircase and personalize it to your own style.

The time had come to give our home's staircase a major makeover. We opted to change the color from natural oak to a stunning black. It now stands out and resembles the wrought iron Brooklyn brownstone aesthetic I was after and it's now unquestionably a showstopper.

We ripped out the carpet, sanded the existing treads and risers, swapped out the wood balusters with iron, repaired the landings, filled in all damaged areas and abandoned holes with bondo, installed box newel posts in place of the birdcage (volute newel), built new inner stringers, removed existing finial tops and replaced with flat caps, and painted with porch paint for durability.

The images below depict each of the "steps" we took to get our ideal staircase (pun definitely intended). Enjoy the visual journey!

This is obviously the BEFORE photo. We decided to tackle the stairs when we were getting the new floors installed. (The floors and the walls had to get some lovely updates as well. This rug wasn't cutting it).

Once the floors were installed, we began ripping out the rug. This left behind many staples that needed to be tediously pulled out from underneath and around each tread.

We also started to simultaneously remove the wooden balusters. Our little one was eager to lend a hand. Demolition seems to always have a way of motivating kids to help.

The box newel posts that will replace the birdcages. Sizing them up. These were purchased at The Home Depot, but Orlando modified them by removing the pointed top they came with. I lovingly insisted they should be flat.

Out with the old and in with the new! Those birdcages are history and these posts are a huge improvement.

We continue to remove the rug, and swap out the wood balusters (spindles) with the iron ones as we ascend. Balusters were also purchased at The Home Depot.

With kids and pets running around, we need to swap out the balusters in portions to ensure no open spaces remain unattended. We continue replacing the spindles up to the loft.

The last portion of spindles being installed. The holes are being sized before putting each into it's place.

Inner stringer was replaced, any damages and holes were filled in with bondo, and my least favorite part of any renovation? ... The sanding begins!

I forgot to mention that these rounded finial toppers HAD TO GO! ...

Orlando built and replaced with flat newel caps! Just goes to show that it's all in the details! Even the smallest of changes make a huge impact.

The painting begins. I absolutely love this color. It's an exact match to the iron balusters giving an all iron look. Yes, there are many different shades of black, so I color matched the black to the spindles! I'm the only one that's allowed to paint here. (Everyone knows not to touch my brushes!)

Painted the remainder of the handrails and each tread in black along with the newel posts, with white risers. At first I was concerned about all the black, but it plays beautifully against the light walls, which I painted Silver Ash from Behr.

Of course the stairs were decked out for Christmas. The garland highlighted all those simple but elegant details!

I present to you our updated Brooklyn-brownstone inspired staircase. The space between the wall and the stringer still need to be filled in with some caulk (we had to move onto other projects but will make our way back to these small details). It has completely transformed the room's appearance.

After a long day, walking into a home with a winding staircase in the HEART of it all truly elevates my spirits. I'm not sure what it is, but this 'work of art' soothes my soul, taps into the happy parts of my childhood feelings, and invites me to take each day, each goal, each plan ONE STEP AT A TIME. Hopefully, this has inspired you to start your next project.

If you have any question about this project, please reach out for additional details.

Your friend,

Elke Lopez

bottom of page