Sunday, January 29, 2012

Staircase on a Shoestring

The women in my family do weird things,decor -wise. (Well, I guess if I was honest, I'd say that we're kinda weird in other ways as well.  There I said it.)  However, when I asked Eldest/Admin what project she needed for Operation Nesting,  when I visited this month, she answered quickly: 'The Staircase".  Now, we know that the baby will not be anywhere near the staircase for quite awhile, but E/A and her mother's ways, I knew exactly what she needed done.  She wanted her nasty old carpeted stairs updated so the New Baby would not think poorly of her when she came to her new home come May.  I brought four babies to my home and for each one of them, I prepared and cleaned and redid things like the Queen (or King) was coming for a visit.  With one child, we opened up our roof and added a room to accommodate a 7 pound 2 ounce baby.  So I know the peculiarities of nesting mothers.
E/A had her main bathroom redone this past summer after a particularly bizarre storm accident.  Strong winds toppled a large limb of her aged tree in her back yard to the very small vent pipe on her roof taking out the plumbing on her whole house.  The construction crew that did the redo, professional that they were, did not take care to protect the not so tidy carpet on the staircase.  E/A did not mind so much since she was clearly looking for an excuse to rip the demon carpet off the old stairs.  Problem was: Project Bathroom Redo eliminated any budgetary requirements for any other home project.  Especially if the steps were going to need more attention that was assumed.  A year ago, in my last winter week long visit, we indeed peeked under the demon carpet and saw that perhaps the job would not be too daunting.  E/A and I are always up for a project for most of my visits.  Wouldn't be a true visit unless we spent some time at Lowe's or Joann's. The grittier that better. We love trying to make a plan work by using our brawn and brains rather than depending on our pocketbooks.  Absolutely thrilling, really.
So it was with a great deal of enthusiasm for the Grandmotherly Nesting Instinct, that I packed my 'work clothes' and headed for Cincinnati.
It should be mentioned that these projects always bring a great deal of fun for E/A and myself.  We usually laugh and giggle at our own determination to make something work.  We love the challenge that an elderly women known for falling off ladders and a pregnant lady with a replaced hip and a nearly three year old bring to the table.  I will tell her, 'Get off the ladder right now!'  She says, 'Oh just look the other way!'  She will say, 'MOTHER! What are you doing!?' And I say, 'Oh just look the other way!'  Miss Viv is getting into the rhythm of our projects by being able to identify sandpaper, Phillips screwdrivers and Mimi's special paint brush.  
In Training.
Eldest/Admin's home was built in the mid 80's.  The steps were never finished, just carpeted over probably a few times.  However, the treads were in good shape.  The risers were made of particle board, sufficient but not pretty.  We reflected on many different ways to cover this shortcut and I think what we came up with was a dandy idea.
The whole rehab cost us less than 25.00.  Seriously.  I don't count brushes and things I shall reuse.  Those are investments.  Here is the breakdown of the process and the costs:
  1. Ripped up carpet and pad, tack boards and staples.  No cost.  Came up easy-peasy.  And Miss Viv helped.
  2. Hand sanded treads.  No cost.  And Miss Viv helped.
  3. Painted woodwork.  Primed Risers.  4.00 spray Kilz.  No cost for the paint;  had paint leftover from our last project last fall.
  4. Purchased a textured wallpaper to cover the risers.  It was a corduroy type wall cover, perfect to hide the roughness of the particle board.  A huge roll was 18.00.  And much left over for the next project somewhere else.
  5. Polyurethaned the sanded stairs.  Purchased a random can of stain last summer at Lowe's from their reduced table.  1.50.  Originally 13.00.  Seriously.  And the perfect stain color; a perfect balance between her staircase and oak flooring.  There was absolutely no fumes and this was a big concern for this Mimi.  Chance?  I think not.....
  6. Painted the spindles on her staircase to update the look.  We decided to leave the banister and face plate the original finish.  Good call.
Do you have any idea how much I love helping my Big Grown Up Kids with their projects?  Whether it's planting flowers or sewing costumes or renovating their lovely homes, I absolutely thrive helping them in their day to day lives if only for a few times a year.  It is when you are co laboring with them that you see them at their best.  You see them working toward the goal of making their lives cozy and comfortable for their beloved families. The care that goes into their projects, warms my grammy heart to my very core....

So when New Baby is old enough to scoot down the stairs on her little patooty in a year or two, this Mimi will smile, remembering the sanding, the painting, the being serenaded by Miss Viv and her musical daddy and me listening to the hum of my Eldest's very own household while I busily, happily bustled about my task for the visit....

God Bless This House....


  1. Cool idea, Mimi. Love the outcome. At least I know who to call when new house begins forming this summer.

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