Building a Staircase Vs. Removing a Staircase (How Much Did It Cost?)

January 16, 2023

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The very first time Chris and I took a tour of this house, I was alarmed at the open sawtooth stringer on the staircase. There were too many jagged lines, and my eyes couldn’t handle it wrapping around the whole entry when you come in the house! This began the start of the staircase renovation, AKA building a staircase. 

Building a Staircase

Understanding the anatomy and terms of a staircase will help to understand what I’m talking about, BUT the key thing I wanted out of my dream staircase was a closed stringer. 

Well, I got the staircase of my dreams, and in order to do that, they had to rebuild the stairs entirely. I’m almost embarrassed to share how much it cost us because it’s an incredibly high amount. But for the sake of being transparent and at the risk of my own dignity…

The total rebuild landed us at a whopping $47,000.


See what I’m talking about with the jagged open stringer?


Pedestal Table | Vase | Faux Stems | Marble Plate | Chandelier | Rug

I’m not saying I don’t love the stairs. They’re actually exactly what I’d hoped for, actually! (With the exception of I wish the railing was stained a little darker, but that is an easy fix down the road). But would I say it was worth the amount we paid? Eek, no. Knowing what we know now, we would have saved a lot of money and:

  1. Kept the open stringer
  2. Replaced the treads and risers to match the new flooring
  3. Replaced the balusters and posts
  4. Stained the handrail. 

The more I think about it, this is almost exactly what we did in our last house

You live, and you learn, I guess.

Removing a Staircase

Before the Holidays, we decided to remove the staircase connecting the bunk room to the downstairs home gym. I mentioned in this post that removing the staircase gives us not only extra square footage but also solves a couple of safety concerns! Having our kids do sleepovers in a room with a staircase that leads down to gym equipment (and an exterior entrance) isn’t ideal at all. Also, the gym has an outside entrance, and I don’t think I could sleep very soundly knowing that since it’s a separate part of the house (even with door sensors and alarms)! Here’s what it used to look like!


This before isn’t even the “before” before! Before moving in, we had all of the flooring replaced, including stair risers and treads. We also had all of the balusters and railings replaced and updated, so this was essentially a brand-new staircase! Right up until we recently had it removed.


Jules Rug | Humphrey Rug | Fur Chair

Renovating a home comes with swallowed costs like this. We couldn’t have known that we would someday remove the staircase entirely without actually living with it and listening to the home! Luckily, removing a staircase costs way less than building a staircase.

How much does it cost to remove a staircase?

For a more thorough breakdown, check out this post!

This number can fluctuate depending on where you live and who you hire, but for this job, the cost for demo, prep/plastic, framing/material, and dump fee was…


Patching the drywall, painting, adding trim, patching the hardwood flooring in the bunk room and staining, AND electrical in the gym was an additional…


We had them do it all!



I wish you could have been in this room before and after so you could feel what a difference the stair removal makes. It feels like we gained more square footage than we actually did, and I love how practical it is.

Although we’re not planning to do anything more in the future bunk room this year, we have some patching up to do in the home gym coming up soon!… Right after we finish decluttering and organizing the attic.

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What do you think?

  1. Sandra Pace says:

    Incredible expense for an AMAZING staircase! LOVE!!! You can do no wrong in my book. You have provided me with tons of inspiration and I appreciate your work. I think some people might feel a little left out because your budget has changed dramatically over the years and ours hasn’t :) Love everything you share. Please keep doing what you are doing. If anything, keep providing the look for less, or more economical room makeovers.

  2. Jasmine Agnor says:

    Thank you for your vulnerability and sharing your real Costs and true feelings about the project. This is why I love you and this blog so much Chris and Julia! My budget is different than yours but I rarely see real numbers shared and it’s so helpful for planning. I really appreciate the honesty about how you would have done it differently. I have tons of projects like this and it’s easy to believe that I’m the only one with regrets. Your advice about listening to your home, waiting and living in it is critical! You have influenced how I diy, what projects I focus on and I’ve returned countless times to source materials through you. Thank you!

    Keep in mind as the home owner it’s easy to focus on our lessons learned or ruminate on what you’d do differently. I get stuck there too. Your home is a true sanctuary thanks to your creativity and should be created. Including what you learned a long the way. Thank you for the endless inspiration.

  3. Rachel says:

    I know it’s a private home so the lines for people are blurry, but guys: it’s also their business. That pays (how many now) people enough to a) not have other jobs, b) move cross country, c) is growing like crazy, are you watching the follower numbers. These people have multiple businesses — that we know of, there are probably more — bc they are talented af, which is why we are all here. Go ahead and take the sticker shock personally if you want, have you priced a construction project lately? but if you read this as throwing $50k of personal income at a whim, you’re not paying attention.

  4. Diane says:

    I really welcome the transparency of the post. A few thoughts popped into my head while I was reading this: Yes, it does look beautiful – and I think, if possible, you should have your home exactly how you want it; however, when it comes to selling the home you will not recoup the monies often spent on ‘custom’ work. Sometimes a staircase is just a staircase. I’ve really enjoyed following you for a couple of years now, but realize that I’m no longer your audience. I enjoy the inspiration, but there’s very little that I can relate to now. Your staircase is two years salary for me (struggling artist with a Masters degree). So while I have enjoyed the earlier posts, everything now just seems excessive. Wishing you the best on your journey!

  5. k says:

    thank you for sharing the costs! it keeps things real and this information is hard to find.

    beautiful results, both for rebuilding and removing the staircase :)

  6. Christine says:

    Would love to share our staircase odessey. When we were unable to find someone to re do ours because it was too small a job (not a 10,000′ new construction). My husband and watched some videos amd apied some creativity and about 2000$ in materials and a bit of labor later jave a gorgeous curved railing stained red oak and wrought iron ballisters. Truly beautiful and unique

  7. Jenn says:

    I have a carpeted staircase that I loathe. Now I probably wouldn’t pay $47,000 to fix, but I definitely think there is a significant sum I would pay as it would change my whole entryway. So I understand wanting to make as beautiful as possible when you have 1000s of people watching you.

  8. REK981 says:

    I am not a stairs person (ranch for life!) but I much prefer the closed stringer. Just visually the open makes me dizzy. I have a special talent of being able to fall UP and down the stairs. :|

    You made a profit when you sold your last home and you are taking that and making this home exactly what you want. Inflation and supply chain setbacks and material cost increases are all part of it. You are continually showing me that we can roll with the frustrations and make do and then ENJOY the outcomes even if they are not 100% what we envision. :)

    • Kris d. says:

      Been following for a while but never commented yet. I love seeing your projects and beautiful transformations. While my budget is very different than yours I am so grateful for your transparency and being vulnerable so that I can enjoy seeing your work and being inspired but also have realistic expectations for my own projects and what will work with my budget. It helps to have ideas of what is worth the money for us and what is not. Thank you for all you share.

  9. Michelle says:

    I have followed you since the beginning. So I am sad to say I just can’t afford you anymore. Your renovations, your purchases, anything DIY is out of my league. I’ve loved knowing you and I thank you for years of inspiration.

  10. Dianne says:

    The transformation of both staircases (even given the expense of the front staircase) is fantastic. Removing the staircase leading to your workout room is a solution that works for your needs; you can’t put a price on safety. Your bunk room “after” represents a room that has flexibility; I can imagine the many changes over the years as your girls mature. I’m just curious as to your bunk room lighting — will you provide a description as to why you chose the fixtures?

    • Katie says:

      Those light fixtures were put in when this was their home office for all the CLJ employees. They put them over their desks/work areas. I’m sure they will change them when it is fully renovated into a bunk room.

  11. Maggie says:

    I can never decide what my favorite room in your home is, but today the entry has my heart swooning the most . Gorgeous and inspiring as always.

  12. Jen C says:

    Your staircase is beautiful. Your design was a great decision. A much needed improvement for the rec room. The security issue would concern me also and as a plus you gained more space. Thank you for the information on all of your renovations and design tips.

  13. Ines says:

    I appreciate the transparency. Whenever you put yourself out there and share such personal info it requires vulnerability. Thank you for that. I also think it’s important to have an idea of what these things cost realistically.

  14. Christie says:

    Hello, Julia and Chris, first I would like to say thank you for your blog. I consider it a joy and blessing to share your journey. What I have a hard time understanding is the rudeness and down right meanness of others. We all have our own loves and life’s. If you like something or not there is a way of giving your opinion to others in a classy and kind way. I wish some other commenters agreed and would think before they speak. I am strong and definitely opinionated but always try to think how would I want someone to hear me.. Thank you again for your blog

  15. Dev says:

    I prob make around that as an ER and ICU registered nurse with 2 degrees, one BA psych and one BScN nursing, (if I don’t pick up overtime shifts). So I totally feel you on this, that being said I love CLJ and they give me a ton of inspo for my home ❤️

  16. Amanda says:

    We did the same thing in 2016, except we have 3 floors and also replaced 2 floor stairs, I live in center city philly had a master stairs maker do the work pine stairs, mahogany posts. Cost 13,000 plus 2,500 for staining stairs, 1,500 for drywall repair. Inflation ahhh

  17. Bre says:

    I have mixed feelings about knowing how much you paid for one staircase. I make less than that as a teacher with a master’s degree! Makes me feel like a loser but I guess that’s what social media and the internet does! I enjoy all the pretty pictures and the wish fulfillment your account brings, it’s hard to know “how the sausage is made” as they say. 😂

  18. Tori says:

    The cost of things today is mind-blowing. You paid for your staircase what we paid for our whole first house 37 years ago. 🤯🤯🤯
    I think it turned out pretty, but wow, that is a lot of dollars!
    You got a much better bang for your buck taking the other staircase out – totally worth the money!

  19. Olivia Furtado Frias says:

    The stairs are stunning and I would have never known about open stringers or closed stringers before your renovation and even though it was a huge expense to me it’s worth every penny. Sometimes whether something is worth or not is not always neat measures monetarily. If it makes you happy then it’s worth it. To me that change was well worth it. Too many lines for my Mind too. Love the change in the Rec room too – what a difference. Live it all.

  20. Sunny says:

    Just curious about the blue contraption in the playroom???

  21. Susanne says:

    I’m glad they were EXACTLY what you wanted! oh, “With the exception of I wish the railing was stained a little darker”. Please make it make sense.

  22. Joanne Holt says:

    The cost is staggering but closing in the stringers was the right call imho. That alone made a bigger impact apart from matching the wood. I can’t figure out what happened to the room with the hidden door. I’ve watched the house tour but thought that was skipped. Sharing these costs is really to give perspective to those doing renos or planning to. My biggest takeaway is to live in your house for a year or more before jumping into expensive & extensive projects. I learn so much from following you.

    • Emily Wickstrom says:

      I think it became a storage room for extra rugs (from their line) and decor! and they will add shelving later.

  23. Jamie says:

    I hope this is helpful for people! We went the opposite direction from what you did with your curved stairs. We had very basic drywall enclosed closed stringer stairs and we changed them to an open stringer with pretty trim. It was a nightmare. Our staircase is beautiful but it held up our renovation by over a month and I don’t even want to know what it ended up costing. Such a mess. The stairway is beautiful, but I don’t know that I would have put the amount of money and time into it if I would have realized that I could still have beautiful stairs with a closed stringer.

  24. Janet Clarke says:

    Thanks for sharing – warts & all!

  25. Susan MacEachern says:

    On the staircase, removal, the true cost would be the initial improvement that you made to the originals stairs, treads and risers? But I really appreciate how honest you are and that we all make mistakes so many influencers don’t show that part of the renovation project.

  26. Lauren says:

    Removing that staircase was a great idea! The room is huge now! Where do you keep all the girls’ toys?

  27. Erin says:

    This may be my favorite post of all time. 1.) I hate open stringers and also hired out someone to close it last year. Ours did not turn out nearly as well as yours—and I keep reminding myself that you get what you pay for—and now I can see just how true that is! I also love not giving into the sunk cost fallacy with the second staircase. The number of things we keep simply bc we paid for them…

  28. Jessica says:

    We are wanting to remodel our staircase as well. Looking To completely replace the balusters and handrails, new Knewel posts. Replacing metal with wood that will most likely be painted black. Any chance you have a budget breakdown? Thank you for being so transparent!

  29. Nicole Mangum says:

    The upstairs room looks so open without the stairs. It’s frustrating to feel like you wasted the money redoing the stairs only to take them out, but that’s part of renovating!

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