Wednesday, January 26, 2011

steppin' up

(sneak peak!)

So i appear to be working my way out of the basement in January, and have spent a lot of time in the last two weeks trying to improve the stairwell that leads to my basement.

Allow me to walk you through it.

When we first bought our house, our basement stairwell looked like this:

It was very....woodsy... like paul bunyan used to live in our basement........

And that wouldn't have been SO bad if there hadn't of been two different kinds of wood on the wall- one is knotty pine (higher up the stairs) and one is real wood paneling (bottom of the stairs). Wait- are knotty pine and wood paneling the same thing? I suppose- but they definitely looked different. Not to mention the "cool" molding that separates the wood from the drywall on top.

Fed up with the dark and dungeon-y looking appearance, a few years ago, I painted the entire hallway in a bright white to add some cohesiveness and light to the stairwell. It came out looking much better after this step, but it still just wasn't working for me. It was too much brown vs. stark white.

I even painted the undersides of the stair treads, and you can see how our old kitchen used to be with a door to come in the house right at the top of the stairs! (Which we remedied during our kitchen reno).

Speaking of the kitchen renovation, when we were all done, I painted the drywall (top portion) of this stairwell the same color as the kitchen; a nice subtle cream with gold undertones. Unfortunately, the stairwell still had some issues. For one, the stair treads are in really bad condition. It looks like they were never poly'd so they're just stained, and this makes them difficult to clean, easy to collect dirt, and they're dinged and dented all over. Not to mention, our dogs have had incidents slipping and sliding on them as they race down to their food dishes. Not cool! The paneling had been in equally as bad condition; there was even a portion at the bottom of the stairs that looked like it had been chewed on/clawed at by an animal (before we owned the house, I assure you!).

So, as I thought about how I wanted to sand the stair treads down, re-stain and poly them, add a stair runner, and paint the paneling the same color as the top part of the stairwell, I realized, if I'm going to do all that, I might as well try something that I've been wanting to try for FOREVER, but have been too scared to....filling the holes in the paneling for seamless walls. It's a small enough area to not be too overwhelming, and the paneling is already in bad shape, so why not try it, right?

So, first I had to decide how I was going to fill the holes. Mind you, this is real wood paneling, not the fake looking kind, so the gaps between were more substantial. I decided to do a test run, and did one small crack at the top of the stairs with wood filler, and another small crack with drywall putty. I left it for a day and when I came back to check, the wood filler had hardened up pretty nicely, and the drywall putty had already cracked.

So, I proceeded to fill all the paneling cracks with the obvious winner- wood putty! It really didn't take me long at all, and I waited about 4 hours for it to dry before sanding it down with a medium grade sandpaper.

(before sanding)

However, while the wood putty did a nice job of filling the cracks, it didn't exactly leave the whole seamless effect I was going for, so I did a nice thin skim coat with the drywall putty over the walls. This also solved the issue of the dings in the paneling! After I did a light sanding on that, it was already looking pretty promising!

Now that I was completely done sanding (thank goodness, my arms were really starting to hurt!), it was back to the stair treads. A little stain and a lot of poly later (4 coats to be exact) things were looking a bit more promising for those once-sad-looking treads. (No pic, they look about the same in photos as before even though it's a big improvement)

Next up: prime the walls and the molding (which was also in pretty bad shape). And then paint! I painted the molding first (Dover White by Sherwin Williams), and then the walls (Gilded Endive, Valspar).

I was so excited to see the finished product I got to stapling the rug in before the wall paint was even dry! hehe. Ready for some saweet afters? Here ya go!....

The stairwell rug is actually two indoor/outdoor runners from Can you see where I connected them? No? Well I musta done a pretty good job then ;)

Tune in next week for the artwork on the wall details! Obviously the frames are empty right now, but you can kinda get the idea of where I'm going with it....

Yes, my husband has a man cave sign, lol! And something definitely still needs to be remedied about the flooring at the bottom of the stairs....

And now for the fun before & after shots!!

Linking to:

All Things Heart and Home


  1. this turned out AWESOME!!!!
    I love white and dark wood together!

  2. What a great transformation...your hard work paid off! Laurel@chippingwithcharm

  3. it looks wonderful free spirit :)

  4. S, very nice job. It looks so bright and stylish, I think you need a woMAN CAVE down there too! Nel ☺

  5. This stairway so much brighter and modern. Great job!


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