Just because staircases are functional and constantly getting stepped on doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a little interior design attention, too. These three projects prove that stairs can be both practical and pretty.
Tile under toes
On the more difficult side of the home- improvement scale is tiling a staircase. Adding patterned tile to staircase risers is creative and makes quite an impression on guests.
“We were almost done building our home when we had to decide what to do with the staircase — it was our final project,” said Deb Delman, a high school teacher in Portland, Ore., who built her home from the ground up. “The rest of the house is full of artistic projects, so we knew we wanted to do something unusual and really colorful with the stairs. I’d tiled our bathroom before and it turned out nice, which made me think of tiling the riser.”
Delman chose a beautiful Mexican tile and got to work. The toughest part was cutting the tiles to be the right size and shape for the risers, she said.
“We ran out of tile toward the end and had to make a sort of mosaic design on the bottom step,” she said.
After the installation, Delman finished it off with black grout that wouldn’t show dirt.
“All in all, it took us about 100 hours to get the project finished — two full weekend days and a lot of weeknights,” she said. “But the end result was worth it.”
What’s up, ombre?
If there’s a project that doesn’t need a lot of time or skill, it’s this one: With a few swipes of a paintbrush, plain balusters can be transformed with an ombre paint job.
“We were in the middle of renovating the staircase and I thought it would be fun to paint the balusters in increasingly darker shades of blue,” said Angie Campbell, a marketing director who keeps a blog called Angie’s Roost about the household projects she tackles in the Brewer, Maine, home she shares with her husband.
“I thought I was so creative until I searched online and realized I wasn’t the first person to come up with this idea,” she said.
Campbell picked up small sample paint jars in nine different shades of blue. After a few coats, she had a fun, eye-catching staircase.
“My stair risers used to be plain white,” said Sharon Askew, an interior decorator in New York and writer of a blog called Serendipity. “So when I saw an online video showing how to paint chevron stripes on the risers, I thought: ‘I can do that!’ ”
Askew started by cutting a piece of heavy cardstock into a triangle shape. That way she could trace the edges for her lines and the angle of the stripes would match.
She painted a fresh base coat of white on the risers, penciled out the pattern, taped the areas she wanted to stay white and brushed over the exposed sections with black paint.
“It sounds complicated, but the whole thing took me less than two hours,” Askew said.