Most songwriters come across songs they wished they’d written.  I’m going to assume this following article holds that same envy and admiration for designers and homeowners alike (my hand is up, for sure). Cool thing is, this is a DIY project that anyone can accomplish, and with a long weekend at our feet, we’ve got plenty of time to follow these to-do steps and ultimately enjoy the steps of our newly renovated staircases.

Posted Jen from on 03/26/2009

decorate a staircase

Stencil staircasespell out a warm welcome with your stairsOne reason I’d love to have a house someday: a lovely little staircase. I dream of a staircase to run up and down, be my seat in the morning as I throw on shoes, and become a ritual ending to my day as I walk up to the bedroom each night. And, of course, I’d want the staircase to have my own personal stamp – a little something special. I think my favorite way to decorate a staircase is to stencil a few stair risers. The stenciled staircase above was photographed by Alexandra Rowley, an amazing photographer, surfer, and overall super sweet gal. (Alexandra’s site is being revamped so you can check out her portfolio on Faucher Artists.) We shot this story together at a location house outside the city— I had so much fun producing a bunch of instant home makeovers for the feature. The location’s staircase was already painted turquoise, and then Jen Everett, the stylist, did a great job of stenciling the risers. The stairs were instantly to get this look: The key with spelling out a phrase on your stairs is to keep it playful. Skip a step and stagger the words to add a little drama and movement to the design. I picked out 3-inch Original Alphabet stencils. You need large letters so that they boldly stand out on stairs. For the paint, I chose Benjamin Moore 2011-30 latex paint. To prep the stencil, first tape the letter stencils together to form a word, so that your letters don’t look crooked. Stick the stencils to the stair risers with blue painter’s tape. Then stencil away using a stippling brush to paint (be sure to use a jabbing motion when you’re stenciling.) Let the paint dry and then repeat for a second coat.Check out more amazing ways to make over a staircase.rainbow staircase

create a rainbow running up your stairs

This is one of my favorite DIY ideas from the dearly departed Domino. The color choice here is key.

how to get this look
paints used: Benjamin Moore Mocha Brown #2107-20, Peach Cobbler #2169-40, Olive Moss #2147-20, and Seaside Blue #2054-50.
Domino makes a good point that a rainbow staircase works best in a space that’s modern or beachy — you might edge toward the circus look if your interior space is already packed with color and pattern. White or dark walls would be the best backdrop. You’ll need to lightly sand stairs that are already painted (then vacuum, damp-mop and let dry.) Next step: prime stairs. Let dry and then move on to the color. You’ll need two coats of a semi-gloss latex paint (let paint dry between coats.) Since we’re talking floors here, you’ll want to seal the paint job from scuffs with 3 to 4 coats of clear polyurethane. The stairs need to dry and cure completely (a day or two) before walking on them, so you can paint every other tread. Let dry and then paint remaining treads.

painted stairs

why buy a runner when you can paint one?

I spotted this painted stair runner on Apartment Therapy Boston. You’d use the same painting steps as the Domino stairs above, but before painting, you’d need to measure and use blue tape to mark off the section you’re painting.

wallpaper stair risers

wallpaper the risers of a staircase

Wowzer, this is so fantastic — as if I wasn’t already head over heels for ways to decorate with wallpaper. The wallpaper used above and below are both from favorite Ferm Living. I spotted the gorgeous stairs above on Door Sixteen — and found my way to Clever Spaces where I found Christiana’s stunning staircase below.

wallpaper stairs

Check out Ferm Living’s blog for how to wallpaper stair risers.

Number stairs

count your way up the stairs

I love this stencil idea, too. I wouldn’t do black, though. I’d probably choose a color like a moss green or turquoise blue so the numbers are more subtle.
{photo found on pink wallpaper via the happy haven}

moma rainbow stairs

And this is just a little eye candy (kids, don’t try this tape project at home) — a photo from a MoMA exhibit on color. {photograph by jodi mckee}

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