Stairwell Makeover at the Quirky Old Home

It’s been a long, cold, and snowy winter here in the middle of the country. It has been so cold that we have worried about frozen pipes and learned, through experience, how really drafty an old house can be.

In spite of the extremely frigid weather and my desire to bundle up under layers of blankets and just read a book, I have been working hard on completing my list of winter projects before the warmer weather gets here – and I hope it gets here someday soon! I decided my goals for this winter would include getting the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom, the stairwell and back hallway, and main floor bathroom painted and decorated.

I deferred the kitchen makeover and the rest of the house for next winter. There is a part of me that needs to feel that the changes are right before I tackle making them, and I’m just not feeling those changes yet.

DSH and I finally finished re-doing the bathrooms, and I was going to share them first until I realized that the bathrooms – one of which is at the top of the stairwell and the other of which is at the bottom of the stairwell – were completely tied to the changes I made in the stairwell and upper and lower hallways.

Stairwell Looking Upstairs Before

This is a picture of the stairwell going upstairs before the changes. Yes, the stairwell is very steep and narrow. The step heights are not standard. We have learned to measure stuff we intend to take upstairs before making the trip.

We are learning to deal with the idiosyncrasies of older homes.

What bothered me the most about the paint colors was that the wainscoting was brown. To me, wainscoting should be white. So the decision on what color to paint it was easy.

Stairwell Looking Down to Cellar Before

Here is a picture of the stairwell going down into the cellar. It is even steeper than the one going upstairs. There were a few other issues to deal with here. One was a broken, brass light fixture with missing pieces. The door was installed to function as a pocket door which was nice since a regular door wouldn’t work here anyway. The problem was that the door was not functioning properly on the track and the brass door knob prevented it from opening all the way.

The other issue for me was what color should we paint the upper walls? I knew that whatever color was chosen would tie the upper and lower floors together and would, naturally for me, lead to the color choices in the two bathrooms.

Stairwell from downstairs looking upstairs

Here is a picture of the stairwell going upstairs after it was painted. After I painted the wainscoting a satin finished white (to offset the high gloss white trim), I was excited about the difference and couldn’t wait to add a color on the upper wall other than the neutral tan!

As you can see, I chose a gray. I was worried about choosing gray. Thankfully, my friend, Laura, helped me to choose one that had blue undertones rather than the brown ones. I love the look!

Stairwell looking down to cellar entry

Here is a view of the stairwell going down to the cellar now. What a difference re-painting it made!

We added a new aged bronze light fixture to replace the one that could not be salvaged. DSH fixed the door so that it would now slide on the tracks which was good since closing the door eliminated a lot of draftiness coming up from the lower level. We also removed the door knob and replace it with a recessed, aged bronze door plate. This one little piece made such a difference not only in tying together with the light fixtures, but in allowing us to completely open the door when taking stuff up and down the stairs in this tight space!

Stairwell from upstairs looking down

Here is the stairwell looking down from upstairs. You can get a sense of how difficult it is to move stuff up and down it, but you can also get a sense of what a difference the color makes to the feel of the space!

Upper Hallway After

I put some final touches on the upper hallway by adding the picture frames of four of our kids that include locks of hair from their first haircuts.

In case you were wondering why I’m missing one kid’s picture (we have five kids and only four frames with their locks of baby hair from their first hair cuts) – our second oldest daughter didn’t come to live with us until she was 13 so we don’t have a lock of her baby hair.

I found the old sewing machine base at an antique store and used a marble top that my sister had that used to be on a table from her now deceased in-laws. We love the re-purposing and are now on the hunt for another base for her to use with the other piece of marble.

Stairwell After with pictures

Here is the stairwell with the high school graduation pictures of my kids. I have to admit that I have already hung more pictures in this home than I did in the last one. I just feel more connected to this place.

I haven’t included pictures of the main floor hallway. Let me just say that this house has virtually no closets. There are no linen closets or coat closets.

When we painted the main floor hallway, we removed the brass light fixture which I spray painted aged bronze and re-purposed. DSH discovered that the ceiling in this space was lowered by a few feet. We don’t know why, but if it had been raised, the space would look so much more open! This may be a project we tackle in the future.

What we did do, however, was include a row of two coat rack hooks which we re-purposed from the garage space. We also reused an old black shelf unit which holds six canvas bins to store dog treats and related stuff, bathroom supplies, and other cleaning things. It’s not very tidy at the moment since so many winter coats and jackets are clogging the space, but once they are put away for the season, it will be neater. I did not feel like cleaning it out just to share a picture so I will leave it to your imaginations to visualize.

The entire project involved paint, spray paint, one new light fixture, and one piece for the door – all in all a very cheap makeover since everything else was re-used or re-purposed!

I am so pleased with how this turned out that I can’t wait to show you the bathroom remodels!

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