Transforming a Landing into Living Space

Landing, photographed after makeover, with vinyl plank flooring, art hanging on the walls, a windowseat bookcase and a bench
With the right furniture and decor, a landing can serve as another room.

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’ll 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 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

Landing under construction, with just two stair rail posts and a hanging light.
This landing remained under construction when we first saw it.

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 stepdad, 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 a legitimate living space by adding new, safer handrails.

Windowseat bookcase built around an arched window. The bookcase is filled with toys and books.
This window seat bookcase appears built into the home.

Build window seat 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-by-2 band to all of the front edges.

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