Do you remember the “before” pictures of the stairs at Magnolia Cottage?
They were super groovy, with a colorful pattern painted by a local artist. It was pretty, but you can see how over the years the chips and dings weren’t repaired (it would be pretty hard to patch, wouldn’t it?).
Here’s video of the “before” if you prefer to see a literal walk-through:
When we rented Magnolia Cottage, painting the steps was a part of the overall design plan that I presented to the owner, and she agreed that this would be an improvement to the value of the home. It was definitely a big job, but so, so worth it!
(The hallway to the right is the pantry that goes through to the kitchen.)
I tackled this job back in July while my family was gone. It was just me and the pets, so that minimized traffic up and down the steps–always a bonus.
The how-to’s are pretty simple. I debated whether it made more sense to paint the risers or the treads first; in the end I opted for the risers. I started by vacuuming and wiping the stairs off, then sanding lightly with a mouse sander.
Note my wine glass; this was a big job that was accomplished during the evening hours!
The paint pattern on the steps was pretty thick and it was impossible to sand it all away during this century, but I did the best I could. Once I had the risers and spindles painted white–and yes, it took two coats–I taped off the edges and the spindles before I painted the treads.
As you can tell, Frog Tape had to hit the auxiliary power button at their factory because I singlehandedly depleted their world supply!
I painted the treads from top to bottom and then left the house for two days to go meet Amy in Richmond. During that time, the dog was being boarded and the cat was outside killing small animals for sport, so there wasn’t any traffic on the steps.
When I got home, the treads were still slightly tacky. I used Valspar’s Satin Latex Porch and Floor Paint in Kettle Black, so obviously it was intended for this sort of application, but it was the peak of summer and the heat and humidity levels were high, even in the house. The good part is that the stairs aren’t even remotely slippery.
I did have to paint the banister, spindles, and the trim on the sides of the steps since there was no way to match the existing black and white. I listened to Where the Crawdads Sing on audiobook (the whole thing!) while I was painting (read my review of it here).
I opted for a satin sheen since the glossier the finish is, the more it shows flaws. Older houses are full of charming imperfections (also also some not-so-charming imperfections!) and that means a gloss finish isn’t always the best choice to show them at their best.
I intend to install a seagrass stair runner in the near future. The steps are pretty steep and that will make them safer for both people and pets.
Also, as much as I love the black and white, the black shows everything (99% of which is Harley’s fur). I really should vacuum them every day and it looks bad if I don’t. Just food for thought if you’re considering a similar project.
Here are a few photos of the upstairs landing (more to come soon since I just painted it yesterday and these pictures were taken before that). I love having the landing space; it’s one of those quaint little touches that you don’t see as frequently in newer construction. Also, I don’t know if you can tell from the photos but the railing is kind of low and would never meet code in a new house.
Back down to the dining room…you can see Harley’s favorite spot to sleep during the day.
This is what happens on the other side of the camera–I had to push the dining room table and chairs out of the way to get a clear shot of the stairs (#reallife). Harley continues to sleep on in the corner.
I’m thrilled with how it turned out; it made such a difference in the feel of the house. My sources are below but please let me know if you have any questions.
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Black paint: Valspar’s Satin Latex Porch and Floor Paint in Kettle Black
White paint: Sherwin-Williams Duration Home satin paint in Extra White (straight from the can)
Dining room paint: Sherwin-Williams Repose Gray
Upstairs paint: custom mix
Frog Tape by the truckload
Cane barrel chairs -vintage
Gold bullseye mirror – vintage (similar here)
Full-length gold mirror upstairs – vintage (similar here)