Projects & Improvements

Before and After: A One-Weekend, $300 Project Immediately Modernizes a Dated Staircase

published Jan 31, 2022
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Mid-century Modern
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Post Image
Credit: Andrew Berkson

The stairs are an often-overlooked area of the home when it comes to decorating, but there are some ways to make a staircase look absolutely stunning — everything from hanging a gallery wall in the stairwell to installing fresh stair treads to hanging a plant (or two) on the railing.

Credit: Andrew Berkson

For homeowner Andrew Berkson, the stairs were one aspect of his home that he wasn’t wild about. The old balusters were white and traditional and “just sort of stuck out,” from the rest of the home, he explains. And since the stair railing features prominently in the living room, it was hard to mask.

Andrew wanted to refresh his stair railing to give it “a more mid-century look and feel.” It might seem like a giant task, but a one-weekend, $300 project was all it took to make them much sleeker.

Credit: Andrew Berkson

Andrew first cut off the tops of the newel posts (the large posts at the corners of the stair rail) and sanded them. Then he removed the screws attaching the handrails to the newel posts so he could pop out the old white balusters. He had to clean out the holes they were sitting in to remove all of the old glue so that the new balusters would sit firmly.

Credit: Andrew Berkson

After removing the glue from the notches, Andrew placed new black iron balusters with rectangular accents from Bulldog Stairs in the slots, making sure they were level. Then, he glued them into the holes. The balusters came with “shoes” (the black squares at the bottom of each baluster) to secure them in place.

To polish off his newly revamped staircase, Andrew cleaned the handrails (“they were filthy” before, he says) and then sealed the corner areas where he’d removed the knob-like caps from the newel posts with three coats of polyurethane.

Credit: Andrew Berkson

Andrew says the project was “easy to do if you have moderate DIY skills” and that it was a “simple project that made a huge difference.” Now, the view from the living room is more stylish than ever.