Stairway to Heaven…Or just Our Loft

September 11, 2017

Two posts in one week…WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?! What’s happening is that I’m staying up too late to bring you all the good news about our stairs: we now have them!

Yes, that’s how excited I am to have the stairs finished. I was really dreading this part of the house, because our cabinets were such a headache for us. Getting everything level was really hard, and if there is ever anything you want level in a house, I think it’d be the stairs. Sure, the loft is only 7 feet high, but I still don’t want to fall off a step because it was sloping weirdly.¬†Much to our delight, the stairs were one of the easiest projects we’ve taken on! After we leveled the first step over the wheel well, everything else just fell into place. It was quite a relief.

So, the first step (get it?) was to carefully measure out the steps. Each step width and rise had to be exact, because stairs play mind games with you. When walking up steps, most people go into autopilot. Your brain measures the width and rise of the first few steps, and then goes into auto-drive carrying you up the rest of the way without even seeming like you’re thinking about it. Try it some time. Brains are cool like that. The problem comes when one step is off, even just a bit. If one step is a tad too high than the rest, you trip. If one stair is too wide, you trip. The mildest variation makes your autopilot crash.

So, planning out the rise and width was pretty crucial. I left it up to Eric because being responsible for exact measurements scares me, plus if he gets it wrong, I can blame him every time I fall down the stairs. Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, he got it right. Everything was planned, checked, measured, and drawn onto the wall. From there, we built the first box which was the base of the stairs. This box was around the wheel well, which we also still had to insulate. We cut out styrofoam board pieces to fit the exact space inside the base box. We hid the insulation with our wall paneling, and it was on to the next box. Easy peasy.

Getting this first box level was crucial as it was the base for everything else.

Added the insulation around the wheel well.

All closed in now.

After the base box was built, Eric was able to build a large rectangle box on top of it. The idea was to create a few large storage boxes within the stairs, and then add smaller boxes on top of those to even out the steps. The largest box will be where we store hanging clothes. This had to be very sturdy, because the was what the other steps were attached to. After the large rectangle was built, a smaller box was built next to it. These are our two largest storage areas within the stairs. Once those two boxes were ready, we built two more smaller boxes on top of them to create the stairs.

The first large rectangle box for hanging clothes storage.

Next to the tall rectangle we built a smaller base box.

Building the smaller boxes on top of the base boxes. So many boxes!

Testing if the stairs will hold us while building them…is this the best way to do it?

Here are the top 4 steps of our stairs. You can also see how they don’t extend to the loft floor.

One thing we decided to implement in our stair plan, was to keep the top step about 20 inches lower than the loft. We’ve found that a lot of people keep the stairs going all the way to the loft, and yet the roof is too low to even use the top step. So you’re either hunching over to fit on the top step or you’re trying to crawl on your knees on the last step, and either way it’s very awkward. We kept our top step low enough to stand upright on it, but then we could immediately drop to our knees on the loft without having to hunch down or climb weirdly on our knees on the steps. This set up is way more user-friendly, and I definitely want my house to be friendly towards me, the user.

The two bottom steps were a little more tricky, because these had to be built around the end of the wheel well. We also didn’t want the stairs to block to much of the sight lines into the kitchen area, because we thought it would really make the area feel small and closed in. Plus, we needed a way to decrease the length these stairs were taking up. To get the number of stairs we needed to reach the right height, but still not take up any more length of wall space, Eric built the second stair at an angle, and it made a huge difference. This keeps our “hallway” into the kitchen feeling much more open, and the stairs can easily fit between our front door to the loft wall. We then added a door to the largest storage area on the stairs, and got to work on staining the treads. (Will the staining NEVER end???!?!?!??!!!)

Building the first step around the end of the wheel well.

The very bottom step!

The angled supports for the second step.

By angling the step, we saved space from having to extend out the steps further and made the entry way and the hallway feel more open.

The “closet” door.

Can you tell how I feel about staining?

The stained treads on the stairs

I hate doing it, but the stain looks pretty good!

Everything was tested by running up and down them a few times, and I’m happy to report we can now easily access our loft! I can’t believe how easy building the stairs was, because I was certainly expecting the worst. The only thing I’m bummed about is that our stubby little sausage dog can’t make it up and down the stairs on her own. She can make it up, but it’s bit too steep for her to get from the loft to the first step down, so I guess that just means Eric will have to carry her down each morning. Hahaha…I’m not kidding. I already informed him of his new duties. He’s thrilled.

Anyway, this post is pretty straight forward, but it’s because we got lucky and didn’t run into any issues on this project. Hopefully, that’s how it goes for the rest of the house, although it might make for some boring blog posts, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide which you wish for. Me? I’ll take boring blog posts anytime. So, check back soon for another (hopefully) boring post!







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