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How To Remodel Your Basement Stairs To Open Staircase

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Are your basement stairs dark and ugly? Today I am sharing basement stair ideas and how an open staircase leading to the basement will transform a narrow dark staircase to a bright open space while adding investment value to your home.  Let’s take a look at our recent basement renovation and our new modern looking stairs.

Opening up your basement staircase is one of the most affordable ways you can make your basement feel custom, open and a modern look.

Basement Stair Ideas 

Before we started to open our staircase to the basement, I searched Google looking for ideas related to basement stairs.

The stairway leading to a finished basement should be equally as beautiful and often times, this is an overlooked space!

Our window allowed natural light into the basement so by removing the adjacent stair wall, the light flowed into the rest of the basement.

open staircase in a basement with iron balusters, harvest oak vinyl plank flooring, blue walls
I love our new basement stairs

One of the first things Jim said to me when we were designing the new basement plan was,

your basement stairway needs to be an open stairway and not have a wall on both sides.

So we decided to make an open stairway to create an “open space” feel.

By the way, if you are local to Massachusetts and want to finish your basement, Jim is the best contractor for the job! Just saying ….  🙂 

The biggest challenge when finishing a basement is making it feel like it’s not a basement.

By removing the stairway wall, installing iron railings and coordinating the stair treads to match the basement floor, we would be able to tie the basement stairwell into the beautiful basement.

How Do You Update Basement Stairs?

3 Simple Ways To Update Your Basement Stairs:

  1. Add oak stair treads and stain or paint
  2. Add stair risers and paint white
  3. Install a hickory or oak handrail with modern new balusters

Open Staircase To Basement Ideas 

Open basement staircase in a basement with white ceiling and driftwood floor planks
Basement stair railing ideas that won’t break the bank

Our existing basement staircase was framed from the previous owner in preparation for a wall so Jim removed the existing 2×4’s and created an opening for a handrail and balusters to finish off the basement stairs renovation process.

Often times when a basement is finished, a wall will be installed (where the railings are) with sheetrock as this is the most cost effective way to finish a basement stairwell.

When I did the price comparison of adding a wall verses and open stairway, the difference was on a couple hundred dollars which for me, was well worth it!

Here is our basement stair design before we started the basement remodel.

opening up a basement staircase and unfinished basement stairs
Unfinished basement stair treads

The unfinished basement stairs were nothing special and typical of a basement stairwell.

open basement stairway before balusters installed
unfinished basement stairs

You can see below how we framed the staircase to a slanted opening to follow the staircase leaving an open space for the handrail and balusters.

opening up a basement staircase before balusters are installed
Imagine a full wall abutting our basement stairs! It look so much better open.

Opening a stairway wall is one of the biggest things you can do in your home to make an open basement feel custom.

Staircases in any part of your home that are enclosed with walls create a dark and narrow space.

Basement Stair Railing Ideas

Once the staircase was framed, the first thing Jim did was add sheetrock to the wall portion (which also enclosed the space under the stairs making room for a closet), installed the wood handrail and drilled holes for the black iron balusters.

basement stairs with cutout for handrail and drilled baluster holes and sheetrock wall
basement stairs opened to media room

There are several railings for basement stairs ranging in price. Our goal was to stay on budget while still having a designer look.

These black stair railing balusters from Amazon were the perfect choice!

We wanted a modern stair railing look and iron hollow balusters were the most economical solution.

Installing iron balusters on an angle is a little tricky and a bit involved but maybe I can get Jim to explain in another post dedicated specifically to installing balusters on an angle at a later date.

Open basement staircase with drilled holes for installing balusters
installing black iron balusters in a basement stairwell is a great way to get a modern look

Jim used Premium Loctite Construction Adhesive to secure the iron balusters in place.

baluster holes filled with Loctite construction adhesive to hold balusters in place

We opted to use black iron balusters (shipped from Amazon in a day!) and baluster shoes (the black piece at the bottom of the iron rail) and added an adjustable square knuckle to create a custom look.

My single knuckle seems to be sold out but you can buy the balusters and knuckles as a set on Amazon. 

You can purchase our railings and materials on our Amazon Storefront or click the images below.

black stair rail

Stair Railings

See balusters

Baluster Shoes

See shoes

black stair shoe
black stair rail ideas

Iron Balusters

See iron balusters

The balusters, shoes and knuckles were so cheap but look expensive! Not sure what kind of knuckle you want?

Be sure to read our blog post, how to make balusters look expensive for under $2.

Open Basement Stair Ideas

So many of you emailed and asked how to figure out what color baluster to use.

We opened up our basement staircase and installed black iron balusters  because the rest of the basement has black sliding barn door hardware and I felt like the black iron balusters would pop against the white trim and coordinate nicely with the door hardware.

Be sure to check out our basement reveal post to see the door hardware.

If you are not a fan of the black iron balusters, you can opt for wood balusters. I personally like white wood balusters as well.

black iron balusters with square knuckle
black iron balusters
Open basement stairs with black iron balusters Installation
This is such an affordable basement stair idea!

What kind of wood should I use on basement steps?

There are several basement step ideas and ultimately, we purchased new treads in red oak for our basement steps and stained them the same color of our hardwood floors in the main part of the house.

Basement steps typically have a lot of foot traffic so the easiest way to hide wear and tear is to install a stair runner or paint the treads a floor paint.

This picture below shows the balusters, handrail and the oak treads (more on the treads and staining the stairway soon) installed.

Securing the iron balusters in place takes a little time and patience but well worth it!

What a difference our open staircase design made in our basement.

open basement staircase with black iron balusters and custom lally column
Our downstairs staircase looks so much better!

To create a cohesive look, the  stair treads are stained the same color (Cognac by Valspar) the hardwood floor throughout the house and the stair risers are painted Extra White color by Sherwin-Williams.

Interior Designer Stair Tip:

Basement step ideas: If you are thinking of basement stair color ideas, be sure to consider the amount of traffic your basement steps will have. Darker paint or stain colors will hide dirt and scuff marks. I love lighter paint colors but basement stair treads may be better in a darker color. If you chose a lighter tread color, consider a stair runner.

basement stairs with iron balusters, harvest oak vinyl plank flooring, blue walls
basement stairs open to media room

Note: The wall color is lullaby by Sherwin-Williams.

How can I make my basement stairs look good?

  1. If your basement stairway has a traditional wall, consider cutting out an opening so the stairway is not a dark path that leads to the basement. You will be amazed at what this small change will do for your basement stairway. 
  2. Consider removing the builder grade steps, installing new treads and a white stair riser
  3. A stair runner is also a great option to add a designer look or spruce up your basement steps.

If you are looking for more stair makeover ideas, be sure to visit this post,

How to: Basement Stair Remodel

Refresh any basement stairwell by installing custom iron balusters for added detail! This easy project will bring your basement into the 21st century and add an open, airy feel to any space.
Print Instructions
basement stairs with iron balusters, harvest oak vinyl plank flooring, blue walls


  • Drill
  • 1-inch paddle or spade drill bit

Instructions : Step by Step

Prepare the staircase

  • Remove the original railing and frame in the wall with drywall.
  • Install the new railing

Drill holes for balusters

  • Use 1-inch paddle drill bit and drill holes 4 inches apart.
  • Drill corresponding holes 4 inches apart on the bottom of the railing.

Install the balusters

  • Add Loctite adhesive to each hole.
  • Place the shoes on each baluster and position them in each hole.
  • Allow each baluster to dry in place.


When you install the new handrail, make sure it’s completely parallel with the base where you will be installing the railing. If it’s not parallel, the railings will not fit evenly.
To make sure each corresponding hole lines up perfectly, use a level or even a laser level.
Author: Jessica Bruno

It’s a good idea to check with your town for local building codes before tackling a diy basement stair remodel.

I hope you found these basement staircase ideas helpful and are inspired to start your own basement stair remodel. Click through this post “basement makeover and cost” to see the full finished basement renovation and new living space.

Meet Jessica

What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.


  1. Chris Pecherzewski says:

    beautiful transformation!!

  2. What are the boards on either side of the stairs at the bottom? Mine looks like your rough opening right now and I can’t figure out how to make it look complete.

    1. We had cement showing (the foundation) so we covered them. Is that what you talking about when you say boards?

  3. Hi! We are attempting to do something very similar right now (but opening staircase on BOTH sides!) so I was very happy to find our post. My question is about the length of the balusters (spindles). Did you have to cut as you got to the top, or do they come standard that way? Also, are those 36″ balusters? Thanks in advance and good luck with the rest of the reno!!

    1. Hi, yes we had to cut them on an angle as we went up (b/c of the angle) but not all of them. We used a chop saw to cut the angles πŸ™‚

  4. How do you install (make) the molding boards on either side of the stairs. They are the white ones that appear to be 1 x 10’s?

  5. Looks so beautiful. What is the color of your floors. I love them.

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