First steps (Townhouse #3)

First project in the new house was one of those with the most dramatic impact.

As shown in last post’s plans, the basement staircase led directly to a cramped corridor barely 24″ wide.


That corridor extended several feet into the rec room (this photo foreshortens it a lot).

1744 basement 2

It made sense that the staircase would be closed in, but I couldn’t figure out why the corridor to the rec room had been built so narrow or so long, and why you had to go all the way down to the rec room to do an about face and access the storage/laundry area.


Back side of the closed in stair and corridor:

basement to bedroom

These walls were non-load-bearing and so simple they weren’t even anchored into the concrete. I planned to simply rip them out entirely.

1744 Webster HD final basement plans

Down with the walls!

First I closed off the odd doorway from the rec room into the storage area and opened up the corridor. You can see its old footprint in the concrete. See how long and narrow it was?

stairs wall before

Then the stairway wall came down almost as easily. Looking downstairs:

stairs before looking down no wall

After one very…. um… educational false start with a new stairway stringer – and may I never lift and transport a 2x12x12 ever again – I started laying new, wider stairs. The old 28″ treads came up very easily and I found some lovely 36″ wide solid oak treads to replace them with.


stairs looking down before


new stairs looking down


stairs before



I still have to transfer the old banister – tuck it away behind the newel post – and I have yet to make risers. I would leave the stairs open in the hopes of it seeming more spacious, but though I added an extra riser on the outside, I never moved the original outer riser so now the three are awkwardly out of center and need to be hidden.

Still… pretty promising start, if I do say so myself. :)


Can’t wait to see them stained and finished.

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