Before and After: Paint and Elbow Grease Totally Transform These Sad Stairs

published Mar 18, 2020
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About this before & after
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Project Type
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Rental Friendly
Before: Plain white stairway with wood steps
Credit: Tanya

We’ve said it before, and we’ll happily say it again: You can customize a rental to make it feel homier and more inviting. Sometimes, if your landlord is on board, that can even include common areas or spaces leading up to your apartment. Tanya, who blogs at Dans le Lakehouse, wanted to help her mom make a more inviting entry for her rental apartment. “The before is the entryway leading to my mom’s apartment. It was painted a few different shades of beige with worn wood steps and cheap rubber tacked on,” Tanya says. ” It was a drab and dreary welcome for my mom, and I wanted to help my mom feel as much at home as possible in her new digs,” Tanya says.

Credit: Tanya

Luckily, the landlord was OK with a redo, approving a paint job for the area and even covering the cost of a new floor runner.

Credit: Tanya

Over the course of a few days—most spent “waiting for paint to dry,” Tanya says—Tanya, her husband, and her mom all pitched in to create a completely new stairway. First, they painted the top part of the stairway white to coordinate with the white walls of the apartment. They painted the bottom half blue-gray (Behr’s Calligraphy) for a cool color-blocked effect, then painted the stairs to match. Once dry, Tanya and her husband installed a runner purchased at a local carpet store.

Tanya’s mom scrubbed and refinished the wood railing to let the natural wood tone shine through. The finishing touch? Framed vintage posters hung on the wall, plus an IKEA chest to serve as shoe storage and a landing spot at the base of the stairs—and since that came from Tanya’s mom’s apartment, it cost no extra money. “Those little details made such a difference!” Tanya says.

Credit: Tanya

“I love the colorblock—that was mom’s clever idea!” Tanya says. “The apartment is painted white so it carries the white into the stairwell for cohesion. But then the bold grey looks so cool on the stairs and makes the entryway feel modern and fun. I’m so happy she wanted to try such a bold color because it really makes the art pop.”

The budget-friendly upgrades made a seriously big impact, says Tanya. “Now the entryway is welcoming and stylish and it has made my mom so much happier!”

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