Making stairs and steps look fabulous!

My friend, Halifax realtor Thelma Farmer, is in the midst of renovating her new townhouse and she sent me the before-and-after pictures of her staircase. The stairs were covered with old, outdated blue carpet when she took possession.

Thelma  removed the carpet, refinished the wood on the steps and painted the risers (that’s the part at the back). Quite a difference!

Here is a photograph of the staircase in my house. When I moved in, back in 1992, the risers were painted white, as in Thelma’s house, but the paint had aged badly over the years. I had them stripped and refinished.

Earlier last year, I had my old oak flooring on the main level of my house removed (it was beyond repair) and replaced it with bamboo. Unfortunately, there was a piece of moulding shaped in a semi-cirle that disguised the gap between flooring and the bottom and step that broke when the installer, Slava, tried to remove it.

Slava’s solution was brilliant. He cut (or “ripped” as the guys like to say) a piece of bamboo and left it in the sink in water overnight so it became flexible. The next morning, he simply bent it into shape and nailed it. The trim looks amazing, don’t you think? (The cat sure thinks so.)

I was showing a house this weekend where instead of the typical berber carpet that we often  see on stairs, the owners had used a burgundy patterned carpet, and only on the staircase, not on the hardwood floors on the main or second floor. With the lush burgundy paint scheme on walls and crisp white trim, those stairs looked absolutely gorgeous!

I once viewed a home in Montreal where the owner, a designer, had put a runner down the stairs that was striped in vibrant shades of blue, brown, green and beige. Stunning!

Last year, we were getting ready to list a house that had back steps in terrible shape thanks to wear. The risers had been painted so many times that they were a mess.

The tradesmen brought in melamine sheets, ripped them to fit the risers, and glued and nailed them in place. He did the same on the steps but using laminate strip flooring The result was incredible — the steps looked brand-new, at a fraction of the cost of replacing them (in fact, they looked just like Thelma’s)!

So overall, it doesn’t matter whether you prefer stairs covered with carpet, stairs with crisp, classic white risers, wooden stairs, or even laminate, there is is a solution for all of them to show them off to their best. Just be careful not to use high gloss finishes; remember, steps can be slippery.

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2 Responses to Making stairs and steps look fabulous!

  1. Thelma’s steps look stunning, but I think your option is more practical. I’ve had experience with painted risers chipping with shoe and luggage, etc.

    • Peggy Blair says:

      I have found that painting the risers/stringers can be problematic because they need to be touched up so often. But there’s much to be said for that lovely classic look of white and wood, and I’ve seen some homes where they’ve done the railings in black which sets off that colour scheme beautifully!

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