The modern knock on the Victorian style is that it is both too busy and too gloomy, like the Addams Family. The modern taste runs too simple and light. Still, it is hard not to be awed by the lush craftsmanship that went into this paneled Victorian wood staircase, the rich, heavy panels, and generous proportions and dimensions. And yes, it did need to be refinished, one way or the other.
It had been originally finished in a warm but dark brown. This finish was chemically stripped and hand-sanded until the surface was as near to the original unfinished wood as possible. Instead of a dark stain, the wood received three coats of a much lighter finish. This brightened the space and gave the Victorian woodwork a new look, more in favor of modern preferences.