the neverending story

August and September have brought some pretty intense schedules around these parts. Travel, meetings, work, and a lot of time off of work, juggling around doctors and sickness and jury duty, etc. So last weekend M planned to catch up in the office and catch up at home while the girls and I were out of town. When those plans fell through we decided to try and stick with a portion of that plan anyway. Plan A (no wife and kids) meant that he could remove all the stair treads and leave them off for the weekend. The stair treads are bolted through heavy steel brackets and the massive stair stringers (all exposed) six times. Each. Times thirty-three stringers. It’s not an easy on-off relationship. Plan B (wife and kids) meant that he had to be much more careful with tread removal, and we had to stay out of the house as much as possible. It made for a pretty exhausting weekend for everyone.

Here’s why the stringers need to come off the wall – the don’t actually touch the wall at all. Our stair is a floating stair that only attaches at the bottom and the top. It’s held away from the wall by one inch – and that inch is impossible to work within – with a drywall knife, a sander, all the electrical work he’s been doing lately, and then finally, with a paintbrush or roller. 
He did manage to remove just a few random treads when he was rewiring the stair lights a few weeks back, but even then it was a little freaky to walk up our already floating stair (with open risers) and then skip over a huge gaping hole every few treads. We would always make sure to lock F’s door gate at night, and put big barriers at the top and bottom of the stairs just to startle / wake up any random late night wandering. And then I would dream about the fire alarms going off and the two of us dashing up the stairs to rescue the girls, only to step through the first hole, plunging to the floor below. So I’d stack up a few more barriers, and M put up the ironing board as well. If the fire alarm had actually gone off, we would have slumber-stumbled into all that stuff and ended up more annoyed than scared. It didn’t stop the weird dreams.

The alternate (temporary) fix was to reinstall the treads with only two of the six bolts – they technically weren’t going  anywhere when affixed that way…but they did squeak and moan and give just a tiny, tiny bit when you stepped on the loose ones – enough to be a little unnerving when running up and down them.

I talk about the design of the stair more in depth here and here, but I will say this about it now. There is a reason we have pushed this work off for thirteen years. It’s not easy, and it’s not fun. It’s the room that will not end. You think it’s merely a dining room, but it’s not. It’s a dining room with a ceiling that morphs into a stair that turns into a second floor hallway with a ceiling that again turns into stair and then you have a third ceiling and now you’re thirty-five feet up in the air and you can see slivers of the floor thirty-five feet below. If you don’t like heights, this is not the house for you. There was quite a bit of drywall work – mudding and sanding to do in here, and the process can seem endless at times.

But after a hard weekend push by M – with some additional late night help from me (2:45am on Saturday) – we managed to get quite a bit done. It’s a lot of surface area – priming, painting, cutting in around windows, doors, stairs, etc. There’s at least another hard weekend push or two to get it finished. The new paint looks so, so good in there, that it’s hard to get discouraged. I’ve got big plans for these big walls.

We did get the light fixtures ordered for the four new locations and they will be in Friday. We went with the Lucy pendants (similar to the one below, but with a shorter stem for the wall mounted ones) to match the rest of the stair lights. 


They are now discontinued, but we were able to locate the parts that we needed from a supplier. We still have to purchase a remote transformer since they are low voltage – we already have one transformer for the stair lights on the third floor. We’re going to be so light and bright and coordinated, we won’t hardly recognize ourselves as we move from floor to floor, effortlessly, and with no hole-jumping.

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