Landing Becomes Living Space

This week we’re helping an ambitious homeowner who’s bitten off more than she can chew as we bring her project in for a landing.

Wyndy Grice bought a home that she shares with her 4-year-old daughter, Parker.

The project we’re here to help her with is an extension of the second-floor landing that was never quite completed.

Several months ago Wyndy hired a contractor to extend the second-floor landing over the two-story entryway in her home.

Once he completed the floor system, she planned to finish it herself. But the job was bigger than she expected so we’re jumping in to help to complete it.

The Projects

Pick Up Where the Contractor Left Off

The first step is squaring off the base for the handrail, which was mitered in the corner where the landing used to end.

Fortunately, this material is a stock piece of window stool, so all we have to do is cut a new piece to length and notch it around the newel post.

Once we secure the base to the landing, we can lay out the locations for the spindles. While Chelsea and Wyndy drill those holes, Danny cuts two new sections of handrail for either side of the newel post.

We need a drill press to ensure that the holes in the rail are perfectly square. So Wyndy’s step-dad, Dana, helps Danny manage these heavy pieces of oak.

We’re recycling the rosette that was used before to support the end of this rail where it meets the wall. But this time there isn’t a stud where it needs to be mounted.

As Danny cuts a hole in the drywall to add blocking he discovers there’s attic space behind the wall.

So all he has to do is screw a 2-by-4 between the studs on the attic side to provide adequate support for the rail.

Once the first section of rail finally falls in place, we have another challenge before we can assemble the second one.

For the next section, Dana has the idea to start with the spindles in the top rail.

Eventually, all the spindles find their holes so we can connect the handrails to the posts by countersinking long screws to secure them before filling the holes with putty.

After one day of work, we’ve turned Wyndy’s incomplete landing into legitimate living space by adding new, safer handrails.

Build windowseat and bookcase around window

The window seat is essentially an open-ended box built from plywood. Once it’s assembled, we nail it to the toe kick and the walls before we begin putting together the bookshelves that go on top of it.

To hide the raw edges of the plywood and stiffen up the whole unit, we’re attaching a 1 X 2 band to all of the front edges.

Install flooring

These vinyl planks require a gap along the edges for expansion. Shoe molding covers it at the walls, but we add colored caulk along the handrail base to hide the gap there, and still remain flexible.

Add base and shoe molding

Chelsea and Wyndy survey her daughter’s books, games and toys to determine exactly what size spaces we’ll need for the design of the new window seat and bookcase.

We also:

  • Replaced a light fixture
  • Painted drywall and new cabinetry
  • Stained Railings
  • Painted spindles
  • Installed a sconce
  • Added a table/desk to room


Railings: $298
Spindles: $55.28
Window Stool: $10
Crown: $17
Base: $30
Lumber: $431
Paint: $22/gallon (2)
Stain: $17/half-pint
Light Fixtures: upstairs, $89 per fixture (2); downstairs, $275
Sconce: $89
Flooring: $1.79/sq. ft.

Post-Production Thoughts

Wyndy’s idea to expand the landing over her entryway was a great one but even after the structure was complete, she realized she was in over her head with some of the remaining details.

By re-working some of the existing handrail and adding several feet to it we’ve turned a novelty area into legitimate living space. And changing the rail stain from light to dark has taken years off this home.

The window seat and built-in shelves will make it functional for Parker but they’re also an attractive addition that will improve the value of this home in years to come.

And continuing the same flooring used throughout the house into this space not only completes it. it makes it feel like it’s always been here… and that was our goal.

Other Tips from This Episode

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
How to Correct a Crooked Board

Joe shows you how to use a table saw to cut a straight edge into a board that has two crooked edges. Watch video.

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
This Ceiling Fan is Fast to Install

Tired of complicated ceiling fan installations? This fan’s blades click into place and the LED light twists in for a simple setup. Watch video.

Watch and Learn:
How to Build a Bookcase Around a Window

Want to make the most of space around a window? Build this bookcase and boost your storage! Watch video.


Please Leave a Comment

10 Comments on “Landing Becomes Living Space”

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  • tom murphy Says:
    February 3rd, 2019 at 11:25 am

    next time you have to install many spindals, use a stiff paper or cardboard strip with holes to keep spindals aligined. to make removal easier cut from hole to edge. just watched that program.

  • Edward Schmidt Says:
    February 2nd, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    I live in a mid 50’s Cape Cod type home in the Pittsburgh, PA area, with a single car garage. Sometime in the past, a layer of concrete, approximately an inch thick, was added to the floor, apparently to level it. Where the car tires travel, the concrete has become pocked, and in some places, delaminating from the old floor. If I were to use a floor leveling concrete product, would it be strong enough to hold up to a car parking on it on a daily basis? Would water, and or salt from the winter roads, deteriorate it? Can it be sealed with a concrete sealer? What is the maximum thickness a concrete leveling product can be applied?
    Love the show which I DVR weekly. Very practical issues that can be completed by most DIYers.
    Ed Schmidt

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    February 14th, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Hi, JD,
    Absolutely. The homeowner purchased General Finishes’ Java Gel Stain.
    Good luck with your project!

  • JD Johnson Says:
    February 2nd, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    I really enjoy your show. It’s inspiring to see each step of the project and all the helpful hints. I was hoping you could provide more information on the stain that was used for the railing in “Landing Project”. I really liked how it had a great deep luster. Thank you for keeping me motivated as I work my way through all my home improvement projects.

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    February 14th, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Hi, Phyllis!
    The homeowner purchased General Finishes’ Java Gel Stain for her stair rail.
    Thanks for your question!

  • Phyllis Reavis Says:
    February 2nd, 2019 at 6:13 am

    What was the name of the stain you used to make the stair rail go from an oak color to a dark color?
    Thank you.
    Phyllis Reavis

  • Dawn Says:
    February 2nd, 2019 at 4:34 am

    I would like to find out what flooring was used in the Landing to Living Space episode. Thank you.

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    February 7th, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    Hi, Henrietta!
    First, look at the heating and cooling system’s SEER number.
    We recommend checking out these resources for more information:
    Thanks for your question!

  • henrietta Says:
    February 1st, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    energy effecent heater for a small house. suggestions please

  • Papa Says:
    January 31st, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Not everyone has that much room in their home!

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Landing Becomes Living Space