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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Open Floor Plan: Rancher With Open Center Stairs

A renovated 1970's rancher style home with open center stairs.

About two years ago, our traditional ranch-style home went from having small, dark, boxed in rooms to light, bright and completely open. 

I took you along for the entire process of the renovation, but never shared in depth detail and pictures of the open center stairs.  

There's very little inspiration on old ranchers with open center stairs, so in an effort to help others who plan similar renovations,  I'm sharing a closer look at the design and layout of our open-concept center rancher stairs. 

rancher open center stairs

Before I get to the renovation details, let's take a look back at how our home looked before we started tearing down walls and opening up the stairs. 


1970's rancher before


A large amount of traditional 1970's ranch-style homes have stairs that run down the center of the home.  The plus side of this design layout is that it allows the basement to be fairly open.  The downside is that the stairs divide the first floor in half between the kitchen and living room, which severely limits the open concept layout and renovation options.

Here are a few options to consider when deciding to open up this style of traditional rancher homes. 

1. Open only the kitchen wall to the stairs.
2. Remove the kitchen wall and create a walkway through to the living room.
3. Remove all walls and add a knee wall all the way around the stairs.
4. Remove all walls and add a railing all the way around the stairs.
5. Remove all walls and add a combination of a knee wall and railing around the stairs.


I knew I wanted an open feel in our home, but I also wanted to keep some division and warmth between rooms.  I felt the best option for our home was to remove all walls (and a closet) and wrap the stairs with a combination of a knee wall and a black metal railing.  

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any inspiration pictures of exactly what I wanted, so I worked with a kitchen designer who was able to bring my vision to life with a 3D drawing.
3D renovation renderings

3D renovation renderings

I am a visual learner and creator, so having a 3D rendering of the kitchen was extremely helpful when designing the layout of our open stairs.  If you are planning a similar renovation, I highly suggest you invest the time and money into having similar renderings created for your own home. 


The kitchen, dining room and living room walls around the stairs (as well as the walls dividing the dining room and entry/living room) were all removed.  We added a bulkhead and two support columns since the majority of the walls removed were load-bearing.

Removing stair walls in rancher style home


I had my heart set on a black horizontal railing, but I couldn't justify the cost of having one custom made to fit our space, so I went with an outdoor black deck railing from Menards.  It's a great alternative to a traditional railing and I love its simplicity.  (Unfortunately, our exact railing is no longer available)

It also ties in nicely with the black cabinet hardware, black metal sconces and black vintage industrial stools.

rancher with open center stairs

rancher style home with open center stairs

The two support columns were framed out in craftsman-style molding to match the cabinets and board and batten molding throughout the rest of the house. 

rancher with open center stairs

open center stairs

Open center stairs in rancher style home

rancher with open concept center stairs

I painted the stair risers on the basement stairs, Iron Ore to add a bit of contrast to all the white in the now open space.  
Iron Ore painted stair risers

Iron Ore painted stair risers

I hope the more detailed views of our 1970's renovated rancher with open center stairs are helpful to those who may be planning a similar layout and renovation. 


- White Board and Batten Walls: Sherwin-Williams Super Paint Semi-Gloss
- White Trim: Sherwin-Williams Super Paint Semi-Gloss 
- White Walls (that aren't board and batten): Sherwin-Williams Super Paint Satin 
- Stair Risers, Doors/Windows, Dining Room Walls: Sherwin-Williams Emerald Iron Ore Satin
- Entry and Living Room Walls: Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige
- Floor Stain: 3/4 Minwax Special Walnut mixed with 1/4 Minwax Dark Walnut (our floors are red oak)

Would you like to comment?

  1. I just want to thank you for your blog. I purchased a house of similar age and layout as your home. Your main floor remodel was my inspiration. Our house was built in 1968 and also had stairs right in the middle of the house. I loved you answer to opening up the space. Our main floor looks a lot like yours. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Thank you for the great ideas.

    1. This makes me incredibly happy! I'm so glad you found my renovation helpful and that you were able to incorporate some elements/design into your own home. Thank you so much for following along and taking the time to comment!

  2. Thank you sooo much for this post!! We are wanting to remodel our ranch home too and we have the dreaded staircase in the middle of our house too. This is giving us so many good ideas! Thanks soo much :)

  3. Thank you for the post! Super helpful and your remodel looks beautiful!