Victorian Staircase Restored September 18, 2009

Victorian staircase restored

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.

Before and After

Victorian staircase before and after

Before we had a huge dividing wall separating the downstairs living space from the staircase. This made the entry feel small and blocked the light from traveling further back into the first story of the house. Now we have this grand Victorian entrance with a matching banister throughout the house that hopefully pays homage to what this place looked like 119 years ago.

All of the pictures can be found on the Victorian Staircase Restoration Flickr Set.
There are many more posts where this came from. Here is a list of the all the posts in chronological order in case you missed any:

jayne September 19th, 2009

That looks wonderful! Taking out the wall made such a big difference, and the bannister and newel post are beautiful.

Niki September 24th, 2009

Hi John – Found your site via a post on Apartment Therapy. The results are gorgeous!

We have a similar project to tackle in our 100 year old home on the West Coast in Canada. Except, not only do we have a wall where there should be a banister, the ceilings have also been artificially lowered. I can’t imagine why people ever changed these old beauties. Your house is lucky to have you. :-)

[...] copied from the upstairs banister. For the past five days of the build I have been blogging over on where you can follow the story and see all the photos. [...]

lauren September 25th, 2009

Just beautiful! VERY well done, I must say. What is your next project? I grew up in a 1910 flat on Nob Hill and also lived in a 1908 flat in Noe Valley.
–Former SF Girl

Kate September 25th, 2009

Gorgeous work on the staircase! We’d love to feature this project on C&H.

We’ve also got some resources you may find helpful for the Bay Area. October 1st, 2009

Great job on the staircase. It truly is amazing now. I bet it opens up the space too! Nice blog BTW… cant wait for more updates. Im subscribing.

-1916home October 1st, 2009

In looking at your pics of the project, call it overkill, but I would have somehow tied in the underneath bolts of the post to the crossbeam running in between those bolts. You still probably could. Nothing wrong with some extra strength!

[...] San Francisco Victorian October 04, 2009 | Rick Wedding | Comments View commentsComments I want to share one of my favorite new houseblogs, San Fran Vic. The homeowners have chronicled the ongoing restoration of their 1890’s Victorian home in San Francisco. The post that really caught my attention was the restoration of the Victorian staircase. [...]

[...] Flickr via Charles & Hudson comes this beautiful staircase part of the restoration of a San Francisco Victorian home. The homeowners began by removing a wall that had been put up to separate the upstairs and the [...]

Techgirl Somer November 16th, 2009

This is gorgeous! I have a question for you that is not related to the staircase but maybe you can help. Do you have any radiators that are in the floor? I just bought a 1905 highwater bungalow and our heat source is the radiators in the floor. They have been working great except that yesterday my toddler who is potty training stood over the grate and peed on one of them! It wasn’t on but this morning when I turned it on it started to smoke a little and now the whole house smells like burnt pee! I turned it off pretty quick when I saw the smoke but I have no idea what to do at this point. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated or if you can even recommend who I would contact for help, that would be great too!

Liz April 6th, 2010

Looking for a supplier of Victorian exterior porch railings, spindles, posts etc. Can anyone recommend a manufacturer – preferably in CA.

John Clarke Mills April 6th, 2010


We got our parts from SF Victoriana ( I’d give them a call. They are great and right here in SF.



bungalowbliss November 23rd, 2010

Amazing job. Really, it’s stunning! Your home is lucky to have you there, returning it to its original glory. Kudos!

[...] like the staircase we built two summers ago, the Library will also be built of red oak. The bookcases themselves will [...]

David March 17th, 2012

Are you able to restore a 1876 victorian stairway? It needs to have old paint removed, then sanded (/), sealed, varnished. We want its natural colors to be shown.

John Clarke Mills March 18th, 2012

Sorry David but I’m not a contractor. We are DIY restorers with regular 9 to 5 jobs. Good luck with your project!

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