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Before and After: Restoring a Victorian Staircase

Last year, San Francisco renovator John Clarke Mills bought an 1890s Victorian that needed a ton of work. So far, he's worked on everything from the foundation to rewiring.

His latest challenge has been tackling the staircase, which had been separated. The house had been divided into two rental units in the past, and the lower banister had been removed decades ago.

John writes, "Since the house was split into two units at one point in its life a wall was put up between the upstairs and downstairs. We were hoping that inside the wall we would find ourselves a banister like our neighbors did, but no such luck. Obviously whoever did the work on our house didn't have the foresight that the neighbors did. Anyway, we were only left with one choice; rebuild it ourselves."

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To see the results of John's hard labor,

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John turned to San Fransisco Victoriana to help re-create the components of the banister, based on how it looked in the upstairs hallway. The results are impeccable, and a wonderful re-creation of the original staircase.

John writes, "After 5 days of working straight for ten hours and a lot of follow-up work including stain, multiple coats of varnish, and paint we are finally finished. I think it turned out wonderful and couldn’t be happier about the results. It was a great learning experience and not all that complicated as long as you have patience and some good do-it-yourself experience. The pride of building something like this yourself and saving thousands on highly skilled labor is enough to make me want to do it again someday."

Have you ever taken on a house project this challenging? Read more about John's renovations on his blog.


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luvluvg luvluvg 7 years
Beautiful!
girlie871 girlie871 7 years
looks great!
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
Lovely! I've always had a thing for beautiful staircases.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 7 years
I love staircases that are old and pretty. I live in a studio so I don't have one in my room, but the one in my building is generic. Does the job, but it's not very elegant or rustic. And it smells different every day (not in a good way). Maybe if I own a house or multi-level apartment I can have a more attractive one :-)
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