The Staircase: Dread for Treads

We're getting close with the floors. We were all a little sore and tired, so we took a little break and focused on the fireplace this week, but I think this weekend we're going to start laying the chevron in the library (yay!). So, since our floors are just about done, my eyes keep floating over to the staircase, which hasn't been touched yet.

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The plan was just going to do paint-grade wood in white on the risers and matching white oak planks on the treads. We will have to order oversized custom treads for the bottom three steps. They're extra deep on the right side because of the curve of the staircase.

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The lead time was a little longer on these and they were much more expensive that I was hoping, so I haven't made any progress here. I feel sort of stumped and sick of spending money. And when I've felt like that in the past, I usually just end up painting the whole dang thing and calling it good. And truthfully, it might be a good interim option for us.

I could paint the whole shebang from rail to tread white or black or a combo of the two and then add a thick runner to the stairs to hide the planks on the treads, which bother me (I wish they were solid planks).

Or I could take apart the railing and replace just the baluster spindles with something a little cleaner-lined? It looks like all I'd have to do is pop off the little covers to access the screws. Seems like an easy enough job.

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The curved rail is pretty simple and would be hard to replace, so I would plan to reuse it for sure.

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And I'm thinking it would be way easier to paint the whole thing disassembled, so that's another bonus. The prep would be a pain and all those curves and angles on the balusters are terrifying to think about covering at every angle.

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It's a hard choice, since these stairs are like the first thing you see when you walk in. It would be fun to have something special here. Then the other (lazy) part of me thinks, you know, whatever. Those balusters aren't so bad. A little paint would go far there. And maybe black would be really cool (although dusty looking? Hopefully my house will never be this dusty again. blerg.)

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Well, now I think I've officially talked myself into painting everything first before looking into anything else. Why not? It could look cool and worst case scenario is I'm out a little paint and some time, and then I can just move forward with ordering the expensive treads and replacing the balusters.

What would you do?

89 comments:

Crystal said...

My favorite is always just using what you have with some paint and a little DIY. I think painting and a runner would be great. Replacing the spindles would be cool, but I think they'd be just fine as they are painted.

ROK said...

I agree why not paint first....but I'll bet you end up ordering the treads. All those beautiful floors will need a beautiful staircase.

Love This Space said...

Well, I think since you are still trying to make decisions, painting it and calling it good for now would probably be the right thing to do. This gives you a chance to live with it and make some decisions that will make you happy in the long run.

I have to admit though, if I had an entryway in Phoenix, I'd be tempted to go with a Spanish style detail I saw in older homes in LA. Beautiful tile on the risers and a concrete step. That may be totally wrong with the rest of your house but I see your staircase and I think, "Ooo, Spanish!"

... said...

Paint. We have similar balusters in our house which used to be awful cheap wood and I thought we would need to replace these very soon. But then I painted them and now I don´t think they´re so bad anymore. Paint! It´s magic.

Ella said...

I like the idea of painting white and black. Especially when you're in the middle of other expensive renovations. I love seeing your progress!

Socal Preferredbuilders said...

DIY projects are one of the most sought after remodeling. Homeowners want to be more involved and work together to complete task.

Good Post!

Tanya said...

I would paint it and do an awesome runner and call it good. I think that it would look so good and be a great place to ass in some color. Also, construction dust takes forever to settle! I swear it hides and waits for you to dust and then it dumps itself:)

Nicole said...

My vote is paint the stairs and do a runner (for now) but replace the ballusters. That is a LOT of work to paint them and my guess is you won't like them. with your gorgeous DOOR and WALK THROUGHS! I think you need something a little less...common.

Jordan said...

Paint! I used a color called wrought iron by Martha Stewart. It's gorgeous, but shows dust since it's dark... just beware of that when choosing colors such as black. Although, I'm sure you've already thought of that.

Michelle Panting said...

I'm with you and the other commenters. Paint it now, return to it later when you have more money, time and energy.

http://www.fullbellywornsoles.com

erin said...

Just a thought...our house has a frillier-than-we-would-like hand rail as well. The top rail is painted black laquer and the spindles are painted matte white. The stairs are carpeted. It doesn't show off too much dust and the laquer gives it a little something more. Runners are fun or you could do that cool ombre look on the risers I keep seeing on Pinterest. Best of luck!

Nicole said...

http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2013/08/how-to-install-iron-balusters/

Check out the inspiration pics on her post. And it seems she has links to some inexpensive and easy to install sources. Good luck! You do beautiful work!

Angeline Edgar said...

I'd paint them - but if it's going to be apart anyway...(slippery slope!)... some straight balusters would be really pretty. I was just looking at this today: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/6685099417102855/

Kimberly Hannon said...

If you are going to paint the treads why not speckle and fill the cracks between the panks first?

Laurie said...

With everything you're doing around the rest of the house I would DEFINITELY replace the balusters while you have it all taken apart. I think painting the stairs is a good move though

Unknown said...

I would paint the spindles white, paint the risers white. Leave the
railing and treads as is, put down a runner. Call it a day. It is a classic look. You can always revisit it later when you have some extra money set aside. You have sooo much still to do. Once you have more furniture in the foyer, art on the walls, etc. your staircase won't be the only thing to look at.

Pbkmaine said...

Paint black and white. It's the best decision from a cost perspective, and if you don't like it, you are out a can of paint and some time. I think it would be a different decision if you had a firmer idea of what you wanted.

Pbkmaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
philologic said...

it would look so much better/cleaner if you took down the rail entirely and painted the stairs white

e58cd6bc-1be0-11e3-9b1b-000bcdcb8a73 said...

I would paint the risers white and the rest a dusty turquoise or whatever your favorite accent color is. Maybe keep the underside of the railing white and/or the spindles for added contrast.

Erin said...

I also like the idea of painting them - I'd vote for black treads and risers (with runner), white spindles (less dust showing), and either black or white railing . As for using the existing spindles vs. new ones - clean lines are lovely, but there's something to be said for working with what you've got. Do you think the sprayer will help you move this project along more quickly?

Kathryn said...

I picture the balusters painted white and the center sphere on each spindle a bright color.

Jennifer Ramsey George said...

I think painting would be a waste of time if you don't like the shape of the balusters. They appear to be oak and the grain would show through, which would really bother me. Keep the handrail, though, and fill the grain with joint compound, then paint. As far as the expensive stair treads, can't you just piece together regular sizes with some epoxy? That's what I would do. I use marine epoxy (like West System) all the time for specialty projects like this. It's so easy to use and sets up within 6 hours. Good luck with this! The shape of the staircase is really beautiful, so whatever the finished product, I'm sure it will be the highlight of the space.

Emily said...

Paint- dark charcoal gray, and on the rails add a couple of stripes like you did on your schoolhouse light over sink-- in peacock blue!!!

Nicole Malcolm said...

That is a tough one...
But, you have gone to all the trouble to replace the floors, and it would really be a shame to just ignore the stairs, especially since it is such a gorgeous architectural piece!! Replace those ugly treads and get it over with now while your place is dusty. Live with the railings for now and see if paint changes your mind.

suzanne said...

I faced this same dilemma and I get it - stairs are so expensive! If I were you, I'd paint for now. I painted my railing black and spindles white and I love it! (We did replace the stairs but man that is not cheap and I think paint could go a long way in your situation.) I also had the rounded bottom step but we removed it and added a chunky post. If you'd like to see pictures, feel free to check out my story. Good luck. I know whatever you decide will be stunning!

http://www.4inspirationsphotographyblog.com/suzanne-mcgrath-photograp/2013/08/thrifty-thursday-or-notwood-stairs-details.html

Carrie Turner said...

I'm with everyone else here on painting, at least for the stairs. The balusters bother me too, so if the cost was minimal to simplify them, that might go a long way to making the whole look simpler. And if you're going to paint the stairs, I'd definitely try to use caulk/wood filler/whatever (I'm sure you know exactly which application would be best!) to fill in all those cracks planks. Filled/sanded, painted, and with a nice runner (or not)- I'd bet you'd never even know they were there!!

Carrie Turner said...

ΔΔΔ Supposed to say "...I'd definitely try to use caulk/wood filler/whatever (I'm sure you know exactly which application would be best!) to fill in all those cracks *between the* planks..." I got too excited about my idea, lol!! ;)

Vicki said...

Im liking the idea of a runner. Something fun. Might be a practical choice with reducing noise.

schrockthehouse said...

Paint. You totally hit the nail on the head.

"It could look cool and worst case scenario is I'm out a little paint and some time, and then I can just move forward with ordering the expensive treads and replacing the balusters."

sara said...

Have you thought about replacing the balusters with iron? We had a very similar staircase and the balusters drove me crazy. Ours were white though but I hated the shape. It was actually pretty inexpensive to have a company come out and replace them all and I had a lot, 117 to be exact.

Unknown said...

It sounds like paint is a good first step. Why not?

Unknown said...

It seems like paint is a good first step. Why not?

sledgehammerwithstyle.com said...

Paint first. I vote for a very glossy black and white with a fabulous runner. All are much easier than replacing virtually the whole thing.

You could also throw in a punch of color on the spindles - something bright and modern to tone down the traditional shape.

Kara said...

The planks on the stairs bother me, too. I wouldn't be able to live with that... but maybe if I saw how expensive the right treads are I could. I'm pretty cheap, but that's just not what stair treads are supposed to look like!

The last picture shows an awkward transition between the bottom tread and the base of the (decorative?) rail that comes out of the wall. Could you remove that whole thing? Well, not the whole thing -- the spindles and rail on that side and the "plank" piece. Then replace the bottom tread with one piece that wraps around the wall?

Sheila said...

I know you are a more modern decorator but I think your staircase would look very elegant with a nice paint job and a chic runner. Delores from Vignette Design has a gorgeous vintage home with a painted yet gorgeous staircase with a leopard print runner that is to die for. You should check it out. Anyway, good luck on your endeavors and I know whatever you decide to do it will be great.

Swash + a Sprinkle said...

Have you considered having your builder straighten out that angle on those last few stairs? I correct it in my head every time I see it! Not the wall or the left curve of the staircase (hallway-side), just evening up the last three steps so when they land on the ground floor it is flush with the wall, then you'd lose that half baluster on the right (door side). although you'd have to fix the flooring a bit. Whatever you decide will be gorgeous! Good luck.

Swash + a Sprinkle said...

Have you considered having your builder straighten out that angle on those last few stairs? I correct it in my head every time I see it! Not the wall or the left curve of the staircase (hallway-side), just evening up the last three steps so when they land on the ground floor it is flush with the wall, then you'd lose that half baluster on the right (door side). although you'd have to fix the flooring a bit. Whatever you decide will be gorgeous! Good luck.

Elissa Romines said...

I hope you aren't tired of hearing opinions!! My husband and I recently helped a friend refinish his stairs while he saves up for new hardwood. We ripped up the carpet (gross) and painted the plywood subfloor black using industrial oil paint. It seriously turned out fabulous and has sold me on painted treads and runners forever. It doesn't look dusty! If I were you I would be over spending money, too...hang in there!

I would definitely change the balusters to just a simple craftsman style for now. Super cheap and I bet it would change the feel dramatically. I would paint the treads for sure and paint a runner as well using industrial oil paint. If you paint that allows you to fill in/even out the planks with filler or plastic wood. A great place holder for new treads! Unless you want to fulfill a dream of mine and install this brass beauty...http://www.houzz.com/photos/1796909/Hall-traditional-staircase-new-york

Every change you've made has been truly beautiful! Push through!

Elissa Romines said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brittany said...

Paint it! I'm assuming you could use your new spray gun?

Lori said...

Treads in black, risers in white, balusters in white, handrail in high gloss black, leopard runner. Or, a little bit different would be to do the balusters and handrail all high gloss white.

see http://www.elementsofstyleblog.com/2013/06/stairway-to-heaven.html/photo-1-12-2

syndir_guss (live) said...

To save time on the spindles, I would paint just the stairs and the railing. It would look pretty with black stairs, a neutral runner, and white railing (or vice versa)-just to save time. Of course, anything you do is always amazing!!

C a i t l i n said...

You seem to have good instincts on whether you can work with a design problem or not. You should trust your belief that you can paint it and make it work as is. Like Kara, I'm wondering if you can knock off that entire decorative piece on the right side. It's awkward but might be code. Speaking of which, are you needing to get permits for any of the work you've done? You can't as much change a lightbulb where I live without a visit first to permitting!

Erica said...

I'd paint the stairs but replace the balusters. Good luck - I'm so enjoying watching you transform your home!

Kelli @ Life at 818 said...

Yes! What Lori said - and that is exactly what I want to do with mine :)

Unknown said...

I vote for removing the railing and balustrades. My mother in law had a cool Pietro Belluschi house in Portland with out a railings and is was so chic.

Hillary said...

I vote keep the railing, lacquer it black and replace the spindles. Replacing them would clean and update the look a lot. As for the stairs, paint them for now while you rest and save the money and make that splurge later. That's my two cents but I would trust your gut way more than mine. You know your shiz. :)

Sickan said...

I know you're not exactly asking for advise, but i would clad the spindles and make it a covered ribbon staircase. It would take a color better and make it a sculptural monolith in the space and help give it the presense needed in all that space that surrounds it. This style could be made as traditional or contemporary as you would like. The area is so light and airy so i wouldnt worry about covering things up.

manuela said...

I would go for painting. But maybe replace the spindles. Your foyer looks to modern for those scrolled poles.
I also like the idea of a runner. Maybe you find some inspiration on this side:
http://cooledeko.de/interior-design/coole-treppen-vorleger-leben-sicherer.html
I like the blue-beige carpet in the picture with the kitchen.

tokyojinja.com said...

Just be careful about white painted stairs. While black will show dust, my white staircase, while lovely, shows every bit of dirt and every scuff mark. I've been trying to figure out a solution for a while - runner? dark treads, etc...

[elaine] said...

What about painting the stairs a green-grey. (Like a darker version of your chosen wall color.) I think it'd pair beautifully with your new floors, and with a graphic (black and white?) runner it would look fantastic! (And as a bonus it wouldn't show scuffs OR dust :) )

Quatorze said...

What about stripping and staining? Dove grey for balusters and dark charcoal for handrail. Paint risers to match wall color.

Those pieced steps are strange, and i would think, against safety codes. A runner for now and solid step treads to be installed as budget allows. Staining/bleaching of wood will not gum up the works for when the stair needs to be disassembled for the installation of new treads later.

I did like the one comment about covering, replacing the balusters with a solid curving wall below the handrail, perhaps with a few cut outs, very sculptural idea.

Chris and Katie said...

What a dilemma! We had a similar one when we first moved - but I was SO reluctant to paint the actual stair treads since they're one of the few original details in our 1920s rowhome. So we decided just to add a little trim, then paint the baluster/railings and wall the same color. There are a few after photos here if you want to check them out: http://dateswithdrywall.com/its-a-celebration/

The poor old beat up treads are still there, though - staring at me every time I walk over them!

Either way, I'm sure you'll figure it out. You always do, and I LOVE watching how it all progresses - thanks so much for sharing the journey!!

-K

Elz said...

I really like black and white staircases. I think it provides drama without seeming like you are trying too hard. Plus, I want you to do it first so you can post any lessons learned!

joanne said...

I have watched you transform blah to BEAUTIFUL so many times with paint! You should definitely go with paint for now; I know your finished product will be jaw-dropping! Plus, I think the contrast would look great as opposed to wood everywhere.

Mrs. Ward said...

You will undoubtedly make the best choice. We are all excited to see what you do.

However, you sure do a good stairway overhaul. I'm in favor of your paint the the thing and put in a runner. I think that would be a good option. That way you are married to your choice. It is a fun focal point in your house. It's really lovely. I'm excited to see some furniture in your newly shaped rooms! It's been a long time coming, bless you, you're a mega trooper to your vision!

Kackie said...

I am sure it will look cool whatever you do...BUT...runners are not cheap,either, so if you really want the stair treads solid...you will do it eventually. Why not go for it now and wait on some other project $ wise. I usually regret saving money on something I feel strongly about.

Krista said...

About a year ago we finished our attic renovation and opened up the staircase but unfortunately the old treads were a not so pretty pine unlike our beautifully refinished original oak floors. Instead of paying the big bucks to replace all of them we went the black and white painted route and used porch paint on the treads and rail (black) and we love how they turned out - super durable and glossy. I actually think its more striking than if we would have done them to match the floors. Everyone that comes over comments on how they love the staircase. It does show some dust and dog hair but I think it's worth it for sure! Yours would look so pretty in all glossy black!

Hernando House said...

For now I would probably paint the spindles and risers white, maybe paint the treads black, and put down a runner. The other part of me says to replace the treads and spindles now, because otherwise it might not happen? Kelly at View Along the Way makes it look pretty easy to replace those, she used iron spindles.

Nancy said...

I vote for painting too - and why not a fancy paint job? There are so many of those floating around the internet.
But I also vote for replacing the balusters - they are so NOT my style.

Brittney Knight said...

I think paint would look awesome on this for now. Didn't you post once on making a runner to go down the stairs? I think something like that could be breathtaking.

Catherine Hansen Peart said...

Oh, I have always wanted to paint a stairway white on the treads and risers and black for the rail and spindles with a dash and albert striped runner. So that is my vote! I think those spindles would look much better black. I really need to buy a house so I can play around with it...

Dina said...

I'd paint for now. This picture of black and white is similar to your staircase and could work:

http://www.houzz.com/photos/701662/Curved-Staircase-eclectic-staircase-minneapolis

Have you thought about painting and adding tile to your risers? Or stenciling your risers? Or adding those o'verlays to your risers? There are some cute ideas on pinterest, and I bet you would find a very sophisticated way to pull it off. Either option would distract from the plank seams that a runner wouldn't hide.

Laura said...

Would look amazing glossy black with a stair runner!

Bervgirl said...

I am in no way affiliated with this company but I think I'm going to use their product when I rip out my carpet on my own stairs. They are called NuStair and their product may fit your budget a bit better? I love your blog so much...you are such an inspiriation!

Bervgirl said...

I am in no way affiliated with this company but I think I'm going to use their product when I rip out my carpet on my own stairs. They are called NuStair and their product may fit your budget a bit better? I love your blog so much...you are such an inspiriation!

L Chapman said...

I agree with Nicole: Paint the stairs and replace the balusters. You could always fill in the treads with some wood putty before painting to get rid of the grooves.

Laura Montoya said...

Try basketball court paint. Its genius and very durable!

Torey said...

I'm sure you've seen this by now, but it seems fairly easy and inexpensive to replace the balusters.
http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2013/08/how-to-install-iron-balusters/

Bobbie said...

FYI, I just ended doing my stairway.(had carpet not pretty). I took the dimension of every riser and had them cut (for free) at Lowes. They were done in plywood with a smooth nice front I primed them and painted them white.Turned out great. This would help you two ways. 1. Covering with one continuous riser no splits And 2. Bring some brightness into the space. I had 10 stairs and 2 triangles landing. Cost $19.00 Also, my treads were crappy. I searched on line and found " retro-threads. They fit over your exsiting treads Lowes carries them. Found them cheaper across town. Went to lowes. The gave me the same price plus 10%. Good luck

Bobbie said...

FYI, I just ended doing my stairway.(had carpet not pretty). I took the dimension of every riser and had them cut (for free) at Lowes. They were done in plywood with a smooth nice front I primed them and painted them white.Turned out great. This would help you two ways. 1. Covering with one continuous riser no splits And 2. Bring some brightness into the space. I had 10 stairs and 2 triangles landing. Cost $19.00 Also, my treads were crappy. I searched on line and found " retro-threads. They fit over your exsiting treads Lowes carries them. Found them cheaper across town. Went to lowes. The gave me the same price plus 10%. Good luck

Patty Livingston said...

I'm mesmerized by your skill and creativity. When you first showed the house I thought to myself, "That is the weirdest, ugliest, strangely proportioned house I've ever seen." I really didn't think even you could fix it, but you are making magic happen right in front of us. So, so excited to watch you do this.

Laurie Swartz said...

I would go all the way and replace the treads now. Paint with a runner is a distant third place compared to everything else and it's best to do it now while you are in the thick of it. I don't think this is a DIY that will compliment what you have done thus far. Although- after seeing the laundry and mud rooms- I don't know what DIY you can't master.

ABBY LOW said...

You are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G-! (Would you ever consider removing the abbreviated banister on the right hand side of the base of the stairs? If it isn't terribly useful -- more decorative -- it might look nice without it and simplify the look.)

ABBY LOW said...

You are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G-! (Would you ever consider removing the abbreviated banister on the right hand side of the base of the stairs? If it isn't terribly useful -- more decorative -- it might look nice without it and simplify the look.)

ABBY LOW said...

You are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G-! (Would you ever consider removing the abbreviated banister on the right hand side of the base of the stairs? If it isn't terribly useful -- more decorative -- it might look nice without it and simplify the look.)

Emily said...

Don't take off those balusters, Jenny! That sounds like way too much work. I would just tape and cover the surrounding area, then spray it.

If you want to get extra fancy, I love the black and white stairs: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/218495019394704218/

Ivy Lane said...

Paint...and a funky/cool runner... not sure black will go with the light floors..may be too stark of a contrast... I love the balusters and spindles just the way they are...

Can't wait to see what you decided to do!

949alison said...

I would use paint and a runner. Down the line, you can replace the treads and risers. Once painted, the balusters will be fine. I would paint the risers and balusters white, and paint the treads and railing either black or a very dark gray. I'm sure you can find an amazing runner to tie all the colors together. This staircase http://www.savvyhomeblog.com/2013/09/beauty-in-details-beach-cottage-with.html has fussy balusters that look much better painted white.

Gwen, The Makerista said...

I think I would paint first too. Black and white are always my favorite options, but the worst for cleaning, aren't they? Black shows dust and white shows everything else! I will say this, we painted our handrails white and they look so dirty all the time. I'm always having to scrub them down and touch up paint. I think painting a wide runner would be amazing! I know you can make it special with paint, and if you aren't absolutely in love with the outcome, you can save for what you really want. The floors are looking great though!

Meg A said...

Pull off the domed screw covers on the spindles and fill in with wood putty. Paint the spindles semi gloss white and the stair risers semi gloss white. Paint your banister semigloss black. Sand the stair treads and have a professional stain and seal them to match your floors. If sanding and staining of the treads is not an option then paint them a color that blends with your decor colors. Or paint them black to match bannister.

dearmolly said...

Jenny I love everything you do - but here's my idea...

A runner is a great but so too is carpeting the tread. What I especially love is being able to go up and down the stairs without a huge amount of noise every time. I can also see kids sitting on soft carpeted stairs in your great entry.

I do like another comment that suggests taking off the screw covers and when painted white I think the balusters will look good.

It's all a bit amateur compared to you but I did tackle a similar job a few years ago
http://dearmolly.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/stairs/

Can't wait to see what you decide!
Lynda

Janet said...

Paint the risers white, the treads, rails, and balustrades black. Find a great runner. Crisp. Quiet. No sock feet slipping on the stairs! It will be lovely! (Definitely remove the wood plugs.)

Abdullah Home Textile said...

Good work in progress. I have seen this in black and white. I love this combination.

Laura S UES said...

I agree with many of the above comments--I'd paint it all and go with a runner until you feel passionate about something else. Plus, you can always swap out the runner as you like if you change your mind. This way you have something that you're not giving the side eye to because it's pulled together, but leaves you with the flexibility to change later on. Good luck, I can't WAIT to see the results :)

JWB said...

My favorite staircases were very different styles and materials but they were all painted with a matte metallic paint that made them look like old iron. Your balustrades would look old and substantial in dark matte bronze. Maybe even flat black paint wiped on the details.

jelly andrews said...

Why don’t you just try to put wallpapers on it? There are lots of wallpapers with great designs. It is cheaper than paints and easy to install.

charley333 said...

Gorgeous stairs you have there. Definitely worth painting them for now and seeing how you feel later. I had the same thing with some stairs of mine and just went nuts gathering images for inspiration. Have a look, some are fun, some are ok but see if anything here helps :)
http://www.charleyworks.com/decorated-diy-stairs/

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