After painting the basement walls and laying down some cheap vinyl plank flooring the stairs to the basement seemed out of place. In the evenings there was no natural or artificial light to see where you walking. The carpet was old and in rough shape. But most importantly there was no side rail to keep small children from falling over the side. Oh yea, I was trying to keep the entire project to about $200. (Ended up at about $210)
I took some measurements of the existing stairs and the walls above. To my surprise the stringer and wall above were not in alignment. My solution had to involve a slight twisting of the handrail from vertical to slightly rotated. Things got intense when at one point I had to dust off my memory of how to bisect an angle from geometry class. Huh! I actually did get to use this in real life!
One way I saved money was to build up the handrail by laminating some 1x pine together. I then rounded over the edges to make it feel comfortable.
In lieu of regular spacing the balusters I worked the math in a way to create a slightly different pattern ensuring no opening was greater than 4" across to meet code. I then created temporary stand-ins for the balusters and glued some spacers into place.
Here you can see a "stop" located on the underside of the handrail and top of the stair stringer for me to lay the balusters against.
The one piece of the railing I had to buy as is was the newel post. I wanted something a little nicer than a rectilinear post so I paid about $50 for this oak one. I drilled 2 holes in the base so that I could get 2 lag bolts through it into the stair framing. It was important that this piece was very secure to keep the railing from moving any. Once the bolts were in I cut a dowel to use to cap the 2 holes.
Overall I'm quite happy with the pattern. And the white trim paint I had laying around looked nice on the railing and further brightened things up.
The next piece was to install a light. I wanted something that wasn't too bright and didn't look out of place. To do this I was looking for a wide wall sconce to put over the stairs. After some shopping around I was not able to find any so I took 2 smaller vertical sconces and rotated them and put them together to make it look like a single unit. Didn't turn out half bad, eh?
I trimmed around the opening with some base trim and painted the walls with some pain I mixed from several left over cans of pain. The final step was to find some discounted carpet remnant at the local box store. After some experimenting I decided to remove the existing tack strips and just staple it to the stairs.
The stairs are definitely a lot more child friendly and inviting.