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Staircase-Turned-Showpiece: After

Who: Marie Hespen
Where: Saint Charles, Mo.

The enclosed staircase in Marie Hespen's foyer made the room feel like a tunnel—not an ideal place to greet houseguests. To open it up and create a brighter, more welcoming entry, Marie demolished the offending wall and replaced it with a new balustrade made from shapely white-painted wood spindles and a handrail and newel stained jet black. She then ripped out the wall-to-wall carpeting covering the treads and stained the bare wood to match the new red-oak floors that she'd recently installed throughout her home's main living area. Using a TOH tutorial as a guide, Marie topped the stairs with a floral-patterned runner that she cut to size and stapled in place. To draw the eye up and riff on the vertical lines of the spindles, she striped the wall below the new balustrade with a warm beige paint. Marie couldn't be happier with the results, but it's her family members whose opinions she values most. "My husband, Scott, will tell anybody he meets about the time he came home from work and his wife had torn out the wall," she says. "He's so proud of my work."

Shown: An open balustrade and new stair runner make it welcoming.
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