Jenny: Liquid Courage: Stairs

Because I’m tired of talking about kale, I’m making plans for painting the cottage.  There’s an insane set of stairs up to the loft/attic, really steep, really narrow, really dark, and no room to replace them with something better.











Which means I’d better come up with something that’ll make them easy to see and worth paying attention to.  Solution: better lighting and Painted Stairs:




















Or this one:



Or one of these . . .









This cottage is going to be the best art project EVER.


59 thoughts on “Jenny: Liquid Courage: Stairs

  1. Pamela says:

    Ooh, those are fabulous. I bet those of us with less artistic skills could use wall decals to mimic some of the really ornate ones.

  2. What fun! I want a house with stairs I can paint. Actually, I’m feeling all inspired to paint my Ikea furniture. I mostly have black and white furniture and accessories and live in a beige apartment. Bleh.Blah. So If I paint the various non-fabric/leather surfaces, I will have color at a cheap price And it will be that fun MacKenzie-Childs or Mary Englebrite sort of color, all crazy and childlike and fun. i won’t paint the black leather couch or the lime-green faux-leather chair. But the naked pine table top for my desk that I was just going to coat with poly to keep it water- and ink-proof? I think now I’ll paint it a very pale and kind of distressed powdery blue or buttery yellow and THEN coat it with poly.

    I want to Paint ALL The Things!

    Jenny, you are such an inspiration. And I don’t have a spouse or roommate to complain about the color!

  3. Oooh, a lime-green faux leather chair. Does it have any wood on it? Because there’s a ton of lime-green and blue fabric out there right now. Which I know because I have a stash of it.

    Go, Skye, you can do it!

  4. I was thinking that some of those had to be decals. And they have wall decals now everywhere–Target, Hobby Lobby, etc.
    Mostly I just want white walls and blue stairs.

  5. The only wood on this chair is the little legs. I bought it at Home Goods (TJ Maxx home store) last year after i moved back to Houston. It’s awesome … when you can see it! (It’s is too much of a catch-all right now.) But the fabric would make great pillow covers! Maybe even a cover for my Ikea storage ottoman.

    Of course, it would help if I had a sewing machine. That’s on my list: a 2nd-hand, simple machine.

  6. You know, I’ve been so stressed all week, I’ve been recovering a chair by hand. I find it really restful. It’s very slow going, but it’s quiet and simple work.

  7. Micki says:

    How did I miss this post? It says it went up Jan. 19, but I wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t caught the comments.

    LOVE those stairs. At one of my schools, they put math problems on the thingies under the steps. I would have loved those as a kid (-:. If I used decals and inspirational quotes, I could switch them out every year or so . . . .

  8. Risers. The thingies under the steps are called risers.

    And you missed it because I wrote it last week and it saved it to Jan. 19 even after I revised it. I just fixed it. Because I am slow.

    I love the school that put math problems on the stairs, though. Excellent thinking.

  9. I love these. And for the record I am pretty good with a paintbrush. I also travel with my own wine and yarn so I’m an easy house guest. Just sayin.

  10. RedwoodKim says:

    Those are gorgeous, and that quote? Even better. Exactly what I need posted on my refrigerator (and my bathroom mirror, and over the changing table, and in top of the tv…)

  11. Kim says:

    Those are some amazing stairs. I never thought I would say this but now I want some stairs that I can paint.

    Next on the ‘to do’ list, is cleaning my craft room so I can do something fun, even if it’s not painting groovy colors on stairs.

  12. Reb says:

    The 4th last one. You’ve got to have that! Because who doesn’t love migraines?

    Thanks for that. You made laugh at the end of a crappy day.

  13. Micki says:

    LOL, thank you, I thought I was going insane for a minute when I came here and it was Jan. 24. Also, thank you very much for “risers” — one more niggle solved.

  14. Micki says:

    Somewhere, I read a reflection about stairs and their symbolism. I can’t remember where or when, but I remember how they are magical places, neither up nor down but somewhere in transition. Places of danger (falling, tripping), places for spying on adult activities down below, places for rambunctious fun (sliding down bannisters). A stairway going nowhere, just for show.

    I’ve always been fascinated by the spaces under stairs. I once managed to lock myself into a cabinet under the stairs; Harry Potter lived in a cupboard under the stairs; there are those lovely ideas where they transform the space under the stairs into book nooks and mini-offices.

    And then I have a friend who changed the placement of her stairs three times (at least). Major remodeling, that. Have to say, it was an improvement most of the time. I was amazed at how the flow changed with that one change.

    (-: Rambling. I better go climb some stairs . . . . Speaking of which, there’s some twee British saying about taking the long, long road to Bedfordshire . . . . That could be a cute quote on stairs. I wonder what else would be particularly appropriate to staircases . . . .

  15. Stephanie says:

    Oh I wanted to do this to our basement stairs for years. Thanks for tanking this idea for a test drive.

  16. I’ve been playing with the idea of peelable wall quotes for a long time. My problems it that what I want to say keeps changing. For instance, I’ve been doing the breastroke through a particularly hideous five day patch of hell.

    Day one, I started out neutral, and then Bam! I found myself whispering:
    “Keep Calm and Carry On”
    Day Two, I needed one for contained terror:
    “Unless you’re going to puke, faint or die, keep going.”
    Day Three, I required a little self-talk:
    “Tough times don’t last, tough people do”
    And now, at Day Five, having had 2 cups of coffee, and a good sleep (thus being temporarily water-proof) I am dwelling in Hallmark land:
    “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

    Heaven knows what I’ll be saying in a few more hours.
    I’m thinking it will be just one word, said over and over again.

  17. *sigh* There’s a least one dropped word, and one typo in the above. You want a barometer of my emotion? Check out how many dropped words/typos are in each post. Learning disabilities, they’re like roaches. They b*ggers keep coming back.

  18. I live with a man who thinks all things natural wood are best. I’m trying hard to convince him that paint would so spiff up this 1980s dark wood place…okay maybe not the beams in the family room, but how about the kitchen? A little whitewashed finish on those golden oak cabinets? And remove the 28-year-old wallpaper? Hold a good thought for me, Jenny…I’ve got to drag him kicking and screaming out of 1983.

  19. Me, too.

    I had very steep stairs in our Cape Cod, but very small children at the time so I had to carpet them. Boring. Jenny, your cottage is going to be awesome beyond words. And when it’s all done, you can do a “Lake Cottage” magazine spread like your friend!

  20. Hi
    I love the ones with writing and I like the set that has different scenes on each step. The ones that have the geometric design are too hard on my eyes. I don’t need the visual illusions while trying to navigate stairs. Looks like a lot of fun!

  21. OMG – I’m going to have that Adam Ant song in my head all day now! Good thing I love it 🙂

    Those are some awesome ideas. I’d probably use wall decals because 1) my paint-writing sucks and 2) I like to change things too often.

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with in the cottage. It’s going to be like a full-scale collage!

  22. How absolutely timely of you, Jenny! The steep, dark, painted-ugly-brown stairs to my office must be repainted as soon as possible. I’ve been dragging on the project because the brown is so ugly. Now all I have to do is make up my mind. Yay! And BIG thank you.

  23. Borders. Places that are neither one place or the other are magic. Edges of forests, dawn, twilight, bridges, crossroads . . . that’s where the magic happens.

  24. Oh, love! My only comment: use outdoor paint. I lived in a house that needed a lot of TLC on a frayed shoestring budget and had to paint stairs (ugly reclaimed wood) and the bathroom tile (bile green/yellow). I used indoor house paint the first time and it wore off quickly. The second time I used outdoor house paint because I figured if it could with stand Arizona sun it could with stand clomping feet (stairs) and water (tile). I did the grout with an eye liner brush. It worked beautifully! And, no one even realized that the soft dove gray tile in the bathroom had been painted!

  25. Jen Wyatt says:

    Any print shop worth its salt could print custom word decals for you in the font and color of your dreams. I don’t think it’s that expensive, either.

    What a fun dilemma to have!

  26. Jane says:

    I love these! Especially the song lyrics. I don’t have any indoor stairs, but if I could come up with a good 3-line quote I could do the outside porch steps.

    If the stairs led to my bedroom I’m not sure I could resist “Stairway to Paradise” or “Stairway to Heaven.” Because I’m literal and hoky like that.

  27. Oh! Oh! Oh! I have stairs exactly like that in my house. Steep and can’t be fixed because of where they put the chimney! They are worn and a bit slippery. But I could paint them! I love to paint.

    The question is how to get them painted and dry before the kids have to go upstairs to sleep? Put a ladder at one of their windows and they go up that way?

    Does painting stairs make them slippery? Because I’ve already slipped and fallen down them once. (In broad daylight.) I don’t want them slipperier.

    Paint! Paint! (Oh lord how I love color!)

  28. Robin S. says:

    There is a primer out there, I think it is spelled Ugli, not sure, been awhile, but it is for priming all things. Even tile. It then gives your paint a surface to stick to so it won’t turn around and peel off.

  29. Ylva Hedin says:

    Love it!!!!! Ohh how much fun you can have with those stairs and the wall beside it… aahhh Im feeling a bit envyus… I mabye have to paint something…

  30. Diane (TT) says:

    I love the painted risers (although I, too, would worry about reading and walking and falling down). Is there something you can put on the treads to resist slippage, without carpeting?

    But I also prefer natural wood to paint, so long as we’re not talking about knotty pine. I was so sad when my parents painted over the mahogany paneling in the house I grew up in, in order to sell it. But the current fashion is for light and bright, so that’s what they had to do.

    And, after all, they weren’t going to have it any more either way!

    The stairs to my attic are also narrow and steep, but, since it’s a rental, I’m not making an art project out of them. I just put those little circular LED lights on the wall, because the light (which operates on a pull-string, not a switch,and is rigged to pull from a distance, because the flooring up there is NOT sound enough to walk on, so far as I can tell) turns on from the TOP, which is pretty weird.

  31. As long as that one word includes “breathe” you’ll be fine, and you’ll keep going. That’s all we ever have to do, really. Keep breathing or die. The rest is optional.

  32. Good stuff. I love painting tiles. Jenny, you’d make it look gorgeous no matter what. And if you need a painting assistant, lemme know. I love doing detail work as well.

  33. Yay to painted/sculpted/embellished risers!

    How about sprinkling clean sand underneath the final layer of paint on the stair surface? That way you can control how much is there. Even make patterns with it. Heck, use glow in the dark paint on the risers as well.

  34. Actually, I have these gorgeous Art Nouveau fireplace tiles that I want to do something with and what are the chances I’m going to find modern plain green tiles to match? Haven’t tried yet, of course, but still . . .

  35. You can also have tiles made. I bought locally made tiles for my old bathroom. A friend went to them and had a handful of custom tiles made by them to match what she had. So go to a place that does tile or ceramics. And maybe you can paint your own there and fire them!

  36. @inkgrrl – I was thinking sand, too. And maybe a matte-finish protective coat that will protect the paint yet make the sand add that non-slip effect.

    I also love the idea of glow-in-the-dark paint on the stairs so you don’t miss them and fall!

  37. Briana says:

    Oh, I love the painted stairs too.

    But, I am a child who grew up in a always-being-remodeled house. So my first thought…and it persists….is what about a spiral staircase? They take up less room than traditional and are more open (less dark).

    Depending on size available, they can definitely be large enough to be comfortable (or tiny enough that you have to hunch, but it still fits in the space).

    You could still PAINT the stairs. They would just go round and round!

  38. The stairs seem very nordic to me. Those folks have some of the steepest stairs I’ve ever used. Not sure nordic designs should inform your paint choice, but thought I’d toss it in as an option, because they also paint things like crazy too, so there’s bound to be some examples.

  39. Nope. It would either block the front door or take about four feet from a room that’s already only nine feet wide. There is no room.

  40. Learning disabilities, they’re like roaches.
    Oh hell, Leigh, we’re even more alike than I thought!

    How about this?
    You can do it!

    (Simple and affirming enough?)

  41. Rebecca says:

    I know a decorator who always uses Benjamin Moore Cameo White over paneling. It’s a nice warm white and creates a great backdrop for color.

  42. Thanks for the tip. I’ve always used Porter Paints Cloud White, but I may be ready for a switch to something softer. Cloud white has a lot of blue in it.

  43. Michele/Twin Betty/Cherry Squared says:

    I now have the urge to rebuild the basement stairs in order to do this to them. It would give me an excuse to go down there and keep it more organized.

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