Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dill House Diary: Rail Works

When we purchased it last July, our house had one original closet. It was built over our stairs and had the cutest little door with the cutest little key hole. I envisioned stocking it with Mark's camping and hiking gear. Unfortunately, Mark's father, a carpenter and remodel-er, pointed out that the closet, combined with the narrowness of our staircase, would prevent us from getting any furniture up the stairs. At first, I panicked, thinking--Oh my Lord, I'm not going to have any furniture upstairs at my house! Then, I was sad to lose the cute little door with its cute little keyhole. But sometimes, things have to be done, whether we like it or not.

So, we removed the closet, an act which in turn required us to remove our stair rail. Dumb new-home-owners that we were, we thought "Oh, we'll just put that rail back." Think again. Once we removed the closet, the rail--which had run into the side of the closet--no longer fit. Who knew how expensive replacing a rail could turn out to be? Well, as it turns out--it can be quite costly. And this on top off all the other renovations we had planned. But this scenario, ladies and gentlemen, exemplifies the reality of living in a reno. Renovation work is thing after another, with several surprises along the way.

All that aside, Mark and I (mostly Mark) set out this past weekend to erect a new stair rail. If you have never undertaken this task....you cannot imagine the pain in the booty that it can be. Mark and I nearly lost our religion, ended our marriage, and left town over this rail. If Hell has torture rooms, eternally building a stair rail has to be one of them. Also, I'm fairly certain that I turned into a frizzy-haired, mascara-streaked banshee--a monster that probably made my husband and puppy consider moving.

All that aside.... we gritted our teeth, managed to laugh past our exasperation, and prevailed. This project was certainly a testament to the saying "if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, and then try again." It was also a testament to my husband's problem solving skills.

To give you an idea of what we started with:

Blah. Ugly laminate floors. Off-white walls. Itty-bitty floating closet. It had to go.

We bought our railing and newel post at Lowes.  Before installation, we stained the pieces with a Dark Walnut stain, also bought at Lowes. The wrought iron balusters we got for a steal via Craigslist. A piece of advice: if you're remodeling, consider Craigslist as an option for materials, especially if you're working with a small space.

Staining was my main (only) contribution. From there, my abilities ended, and I became the gopher. This seems to be how our remodeling adventure works: I paint/stain and Mark does everything else. Although I have become quite handy with the screw gun and finish nailer. Oh yes. You better watch out.


Attempt number one to install the balusters. 
Let's just say it ended with me getting bonked on the head and collarbone with wrought iron sticks as they fell out of place. We quickly realized that this method was not going to work. (Incidentally, this is also the part where I turned into the mascara-streaked banshee.) Thankfully, saner heads (Mark's) prevailed. 

Some problem solving skills born from years working with his dad and in the form of Liquid Nails came to our rescue. We had a "duh!" moment and decided to build the rail and then attach it to the wall. Noted, this method probably would not work on a long stretch of railing, but it worked for our little section. 

Once the liquid nails had set, we were able to slowly and oh-so-carefully re-position and reattach it to the wall and floor. Mark screwed the newel post and base back into place, then tightened those-other-thingys. (Sorry to any male readers out there. My hardware and carpentry vocabulary has its limits.)

And, viola! Our lovely new railing! I love how the large tree photo seems to be shining heavenly beams upon Mark's handiwork. It adds to the "Ahhhhh" effect.

Also, yes, we realize that the handrail is still the original stain color. We plan to remove and replace it with something similar to this rope rail.

What do ya'll think? Personally, I'm relieved to have this project out of the way! On to better things!

P.S. Don't you love Mark's neon shoes? They remind me of Surge.
Wait...did I just date myself?


  1. Your new railing looks awesome!! And I'm loving that photo on the wall! So beautiful!

  2. Love it! Thank goodness for handy husbands.


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