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23 March 2009

The Dilemma of the Sh*t Brown Stairs

Slowly but surely, the colours for the main room are coming together (yes, I know it's been ages but I'm still searching, vainly so far, for the right pink- and yes, I know you told me to paint it green).

One question on my mind at the moment is what to do with the stairs, which face directly into the main living room and are currently painted the most revolting shade of diarrhoea brown.


I've posted up a couple of ideas here and here with other staircase inspiration, but was flicking through an old Livingetc yesterday and came across this picture of Orla Kiely's staircase in London which I rather like (though it is intrinsically a much more beautiful staircase than ours).  Though not in red.


What do you think? Have you seen any other good painted staircase ideas anywhere? I'm worried that painting a stripe will add an extra layer of complexity that the room doesn't need, but it IS much more fun than just painting the stairs white.  The other option of course is just to find a door to replace the one which is currently missing, which we may still do whatever we end up doing with the stairs.


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We have the door. It's in the basement. Would a stripe down the middle not serve to make the stairs look even more narrow than they already are?

What you are witnessing is the complete breakdown of communication in a marriage... but I'm excited that we have the door...

I saw a very beautiful set of painted stairs this morning, just as I was leaving the house...

Why not paint the uprights and sand back the top bits to natural wood, like we did? Less slippery for herself to fall down, too...

If you don't get a move on you will be back in England before it's done :)

I like the look of painted stairs (not sure about that stripe/pretend stair runner, though) but aren't they a tad on the noisy side? I'm just imagining the racket from the size 11's (not mine!) in this family clomping up and down.

i think you should keep it open & paint the stairs for sure. exposed stairs always make me curious & feel a bit like a fairy tale.

what about a stripe that isn't far from white, something really subtle?

Oh, love the stripe myself.

L, I don't think we can be bothered to sand...

D, no chance of us going back to the UK in the foreseeable future, given the state of the job market

Liz, yep, they are noisy. I try and make this family change into slippers when they come in though in a vain attempt to the keep the house somewhat clean.

A, now that IS a good idea...

K, you're just confusing me now

I came across two links with a few ideas. One uses white and a light gray, and one leaves the middle stripe unpainted wood. Painted stair runners: Girl Meets Glamour and Apartment Therapy.

Megan, those links are GREAT. Now I'm seriously considering sanding the stairs, though I suspect the wood underneath will be UG-LY.

I can't decide whether a faux runner would make the stairs seem narrower or maybe a bit wider (optical illusion and all that). What do you think? And should we replace the door?

If you decide to paint the stairs, you should plan on not using them for a few days in order to let them dry (assuming you are going to use oil based paint, which I would recommend. If you use latex paint, it will be not be as durable and you'll be needed to repaint within a year). Dark stripe in the middle makes them look narrower. Lighter stripe in the middle makes them look wider.

white! it needs more light and bright in that stairway...

but i do like the blue stripe in the 4th picture here:

How about mosaic tiles, mexican or morrocan style. That would keep you busy and out of trouble for a while. Also, what about one of those tube skylight? Adding one has literally transformed my kitchen from depressing to summery.

ha ha ha - mosaic tiles? the chances of me finding the time to paint them, are, as Di noted, infinitesimally small...

OOOh - I just painted my stairs the most lovely shade of eggplant today - voodoo from C2. The walls are a pale pale blue called Oxygen, also from C2. I'm debating about whether to keep the risers white. BUT if you follow your heart and do pink and carry it up the stairwell, a dark color may be just the trick. I do love Orla's stairs, too!

oh, and they make some great latex enamels these days that dry quicker and aren't nearly as stinky as the oil based stuff.

I know I'm coming to this late. You've probably already made a decision and finished the painting! But I just wanted to provide these links - both of painted staircases that I love. The blue somehow seems really cheerful and doesn't make the staircase narrower or cramped.

If you can do it, little lights low on the walls leading up the stairs would be stunning - that would definitely open it up.

Or you could do black stairs, white railings and a cool wallpaper on the stairway walls.

Or, to be honest, you could go with white paint and a stair runner. Maybe it's traditional but it would be really inviting to see a carpeted stairway leading off the living room.

Your house looks lovely by the way. I love all that panelling.

Good luck.

Also looking for an alternative to carpeting my stairs .. found this pic; which is not exactly an alternative, but its fun:

I think blue would be perfect to make it more lively. To be sure, make the wall white with the linings of blue. And it would look very inviting if the interior has a motif of a puff of blue and yellow.

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