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“You don’t want guests in the living room or dining room when you’re walled off in the kitchen,” Swanson says.“Plus, you’re changing traffic flow, which is freeing up space in general.” Even if your kitchen’s layout works well, if its decor hasn’t been changed in a decade or two, you may want to freshen things up.But stairs often dominate the landscape, and updating them can bring a fresh and modern perspective to your home.

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Trim up the drywall edges and remove any dried glue.

If the new treads are a different thickness than the ones removed adjust for the difference on the stringer.

The first newel post comes off, and the balusters up to the next post come out easily. Note that removing treads and risers is hard work because not only are they nailed down, but they're glued down as well. Cutting through the middle of the treads can help when prying them out.

Keep the damage to the drywall along the stairs to a minimum. Never shake the can because it creates bubbles that will be brushed on to the wood ruining the finish.

Designer Jeff Swanson of Renovation Planning in the South End agrees, adding that 90 percent of the kitchen projects he’s doing start with opening up the space.