My New Staircase Railing & Book Give-a-way!!

Nov 30, 2014

As you know, my home has been undergoing renovations for many months now is coming together with the instillation of the staircase railing!! The journey selecting the design was so fun that I wanted to take you along!!

Years ago, Alba Custom Iron Works created the back staircase in my home. The company, bought by Bill Pena and now named ACI Metalworks, LLC, continues to install the most beautiful iron railings. This amazing home featured in my new book, Segreto Style, was done by Architectural Consultant Sarah West. Look how lovely this staircase is!!!

To gather information and ideas for my new handrail, I made a trip to the Alba Custom Iron Works shop and was so inspired by what I saw! Specializing in custom metal creations including railings, gates, light fixtures and metal windows, I was astonished to see the range of their artistry and craftsmanship.

I began by looking at the individual features that would be combined to create the perfect railing!  There were so many!! Here is a small sampling of the decorative elements that could be welded onto a post!

Above, an example of a top railing called a lambs tongue. Most top railings are about an inch and a half wide. This a bit weightier at two inches in width.

This beautiful railing has simple posts mixed in with a decorative element. Becoming overwhelmed with all of the choices, Bill referred me to King Architectural Metals, a vendor for staircase railing parts.

If you go to the website and shop by concepts it brings you to their catalog which is filled with hundreds of drawings of staircases; providing you a visual of how mixing different elements would look! From clean-lined to contemporary to traditional, they have examples of them all!!!Above is the collection I chose but constructed in a much simpler repeat. I liked the balustrade to the far left with one decorative element inserted every fourth post while the rest remained simply round or plain.

I also like the gentle curve of the end of this staircase railing different from a big curly cue or a straight lambs tongue feature.

While their office was finalizing the specifications, plant manager Jose took me on a tour!! With an endless display of custom orders, they had so many stunning light fixtures and lanterns all of which were completely unique!! From ornate lanterns to candelabras, there was a style to appeal to every aesthetic!

I loved being able to see the process in which each custom piece was created! Before any work begins the item is drawn to scale, then the metal is hewn and welded together by expert craftsmen.

Once constructed, the metal is sanded and primed a deep red, then painted and customized with a finish.

While Bill was at my house he noticed something I’d noticed over time –  my front two windows were rotting! Those sprinkler heads over the past 28 years had sprayed water onto the frames and, although we had bondoed them over the years, I didn’t want to take the risk of my new wood floors being ruined by water getting in!!! I have always loved what metal windows have brought to a room! Shown above, these windows were installed in a home we completed the finishes for with designer Bret Duhan of Boxwood Interiors. They are painted in a light color rather than the traditional dark tones you often see– stunning!!!

While I was at his shop, Bill showed me all the metal windows he was currently making. In Houston, with all of the humidity and heat, it is crucial these windows are made correctly or they can rot from the inside out! Make sure that you use a heavy gauge steel or solid steal for construction. They should be properly primed twice for insurance and painted with an appropriate all weather paint. Insulated glass is a much better option and, if installing your own glass, make sure they are experts with the glazing or sealing of them.

The new design will be thinner in profile and have less mullion bars-from 35 down to 15!

Here is my railing mid-construction! It is so incredible to be able to watch the progress!

It seems just like Christmas at my house with the new staircase railing being installed!!!! Although I loved the steel raw, without any coating, Bill could not guarantee it wouldn’t rust by simply applying a sealant. So, after it’s completely installed, my Segreto team will have to do their magic to soften its appearance through paint.

Creating the slight curve where the staircase bends was a difficult detail for both Goodchild Builders and ACI Metalworks to construct but I feel it was a crucial element in Ken Newberry’s design!! I also love the slight curve at the end of the stairs and how the rounded top cap appears seamless!

For me, a black plain metal railing although beautiful, reads a bit like sprayed patio furniture.  Applying glazes softens and adds sophistication to the staircase railings giving them a furniture feel. For my finish, I put a gray and umber wash on top to tone down the black and soften the staircase.  I then added gold to the top of the handrail and on the decorative elements of the spindles, enhancing them in a worn fashion while warming up the coolness of the gray glaze.

What a change!!!  I hope I love it as much furnished as I do just bare!!!!  Thank you so much Goodchild Builders, Ken Newberry and ACI Metalworks for transforming a space I always felt was awkward to one I adore!!!

Had to show you the before and afters again!!  Everyone did an exceptional job and I am so appreciative to all!!!  I am so exited to be that much closer to completing the renovations in my home! Dont forget the Berings Free give-a-way is still on!!!


All you need to do is make your way over to Bering’s Hardware Facebook page and give them a ‘Like’ to be entered to win a signed copy of Segreto Style!!! The contest starts in honor of small business Saturday and will run through midnight, December 4th which happens to be the evening of the Season of Style Event!!!


I hope to see you all there!  To see some of Ellie’s tablescapes scroll down to the blog below!!! Till next week!!!!

  • Wally West
    Posted at 08:43h, 16 March Reply

    I really like the staircase railing. My wife and I want to do something like that for our house. We have been doing some remodeling and we want to do something to our railings. I think that it would really look great and I hope that we can get the right color. We want it to match the rest of the remodeled house and so it will need to be a specific color. I can’t wait to see the end result.

  • Angel Bogart
    Posted at 19:44h, 19 April Reply

    Thank you for the suggestion to apply generous glazing on your custom wrought-iron metal railing to imbue it with sophisticated elegance and a fabulous furniture feel. This is just the kind of top-up that my mom would appreciate that her custom metalwork artisans provide all her projects with them. Since she’s planning to have nine spiral staircases installed in her nine-unit Sacramento apartment, she wants all of these glazed according to each unit’s customized theme and design.

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 06:30h, 22 April Reply

      Hi Angel! I have loved mine, I am sure she will love hers! Sounds like she is a busy lady!! Have a great week.

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