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Greenleaf's Pierce 3: The Pierce Staircase - Keep or Ditch?

 I've heard many people say that the Pierce staircase is one of the most challenging dollhouse staircases.  Aside from assembly, the way it connects the first and second floors creates "dead" space in the dollhouse. Some of this area can't be accessed nor seen after assembly from the back opening nor from the windows. If you are a purist, you will still want to decorate this area. However, be forewarned...any decoration must be done before the second floor is permanently installed!

Window view of 2nd floor landing and attic ladder.

Some people decide to eliminate the staircase all together to have a larger area in the downstairs. Some people decide to use custom spiral staircases to save space and still have a way for their small people to access the 2nd floor. Others use the staircase, but relocate it to another part of the room to change the shape of the first floor layout. Yet others will embellish the staircase by customizing it with shelving or adding a closet. I've seen houses where the stairs are left out all together!  Last, some people even use customized spindles and railings rather than the ones supplied in the kit.  There are a lot of  pictures on Google Images that illustrate these variations if you type "Pierce Dollhouse Staircase."

Closet under the stairs

I decided to go traditional. I knew I was going to "upgrade" my first floor with wainscoting, and using the paneling from my own real life home's staircase, I designed my own.  First I used tracing paper and a flat, peeled crayon to make a rubbing of the staircase sides so I could work out my wainscoting dimensions without a lot of trial and error.

Rubbings of staircase pieces.

Then I cut matboard pieces to fit those shapes and dimensions, gluing them to the assembled staircase.

Matboard shapes glued to staircase.

At this point, you have to know if you're going to paint, stain, or do something else.  You can paint over stain, but you can't stain over paint. After researching a lot of blogs and other people's work, I decided to paint the staircase the same color as the Wainscot and stain the stairs, risers, and railings.  So first, tape off all the stained parts and second, prime and paint. I wish I had remembered to put a protective coating of Modge Podge or another sealant over the staircase. But at that time, I only thought that was for floors or wallpaper!

Staircase with primer.

Someone may wonder why I did not discuss putting the staircase together. Probably because I do not like reliving painful memories! You will find the staircase and the tower roof are the most difficult parts to assemble. I will say that it is best to follow the instructions, make sure to keep the risers and the steps separate and in order as you assemble, and pay special attention to the placement of the ceiling on the underside of the stairs between the landing and the second floor. It matters! Last, if you're going to add some kind of flooring to the second floor, account for the additional floor thickness and make an adjustment for it on the last railing. I had to shorten my topmost spindle significantly to install the second floor. So I added a small block of wood to close the gap and painted it to match the rest of the staircase.  If you enlarge the photo you will see it under the last spindle.

View of second floor landing from master bedroom.

Last words of advice before you install the 3rd floor. Put in whatever trim like baseboards or molding you desire in the stairwell before gluing down that 3rd floor. No hand can reach back there to add those little details! The reason I can't stress this enough is because Greenleaf's instructions direct you to assemble the stairs right after the foundation. I strongly recommend you do not glue the stairs to the first floor as the instructions state. It is best to leave it unglued until you are to the point where you will be gluing in the walls.  Next up: Paper and Paint Before, During or After Assembly?

Wall mural, coffered tin ceiling, and parquet floor.  Chandelier incomplete.


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