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Before and After: This Stairway Got a Glamorous Makeover

updated May 3, 2019
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This little stairway landing is so pretty. It’s got hardwood floors, a gracefully placed window worthy of Vermeer, a dramatic work of art, and an intriguing vintage table. Its owner did not feel so positive about the space, however, and saw potential for so much more.

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Seriously, wow! I love the notion of a stairway accent wall; as you’ll see below, it’s incredibly inviting from below. The two scalloped gold pieces—mirror and table—work perfectly together without matching exactly, and I love the way the black-and-white wallpaper unites the white planter, white tabletop, and black chandelier. The sculptural necklace and natural fiber rug add texture and warmth, but they could both be removed if Ola of J’Adore Le Decor, who’s responsible for this makeover, decides to change things up. By the way, if you like that beaded chandelier, Ola has a tutorial so you can make your own.

And now Ola is here to share some truly fascinating insight about how this space is used:

This is a REALLY narrow area. It measures only 36″ wide by about 14′ long. Before we’d just run through the space just to keep from looking at it. It was sad looking. We wanted something that was aesthetically pleasing to pass through. Especially since this is such a high-traffic area that must be used to get to just about every other space of the home.

Most people just pass through their hallways. But our hallway actually functions as a “room.” This is where I sit on the steps to talk on the phone; my husband shaves and cuts his hair here too. It also serves as a “hair salon” for me, as well as a makeshift studio when I want to practice my singing. Sounds crazy I know. But when you live in a small space you have to make use of what you’ve got to work with.

As someone who doesn’t have to use this space for anything other than gazing upon, I’m sorry, Ola, but I already loved the space before!

But the space looks great now too, and I can definitely see how much better suited it is to the couple’s needs. The mirror would be especially useful for shaving and haircuts, but it also opens up the narrow space and helpfully reflects light onto the darker stairs. The bold wallpaper draws you up, while all of the art and details reward the journey.

Here we can see that the window used to be (at least partially) covered by a dark shade that paired well with the dark, rich, frame. Ola explains what it took to get from this to the final result:

This change was completed in less than six weeks. About four weeks to be exact. The total cost was less than $500. My husband and I did all of the work ourselves. Locating furniture pieces to fit the tight space was a challenge. To add to our dilemma, NONE of our inside walls contain studs. So we had to come up with a creative solution to hang the heavy mirror. We suspended it from the ceiling using an art gallery hanging system. Finally, stringing that chandelier was no joke! By far it was the toughest DIY I’ve ever done. I love the way it turned out though.

Now the window is covered by more easily adjustable white shades that suit the tropical decor. The basket under the table adds storage without increasing the footprint, and it’s fun seeing how Ola changes up the accessories. The doll-head mug is from ENDEceramics on Etsy, Ola has a tutorial for the necklace, inspired by a South African piece, and the bowl (placed upside down) is from Torre & Tagus on Amazon. The wallpaper was found on Houzz, and Ola likes it as much as I do:

I love the wallpaper choice. It was a bold move and SO worth it. Also, the natural fiber rug hides the dust and cleans up easily. Last, the space allows me to be flexible with decorating. Because we were on a tight deadline, we didn’t get a chance to seal the second landing (not shown in the photos submitted). That meant having to redo them. Not fun.

This aerial shot reveals that the table is even more beautiful than I thought it was (that piece is a real find), and that the newly pale floor looks fantastic. Now that this small-space, huge-impact remodeling job is over, Ola has some insight to share:

My advice to those considering a renovation project is to take your time and learn to install and finish things properly.

I also recommend mixing high and low ticket items for a simple yet layered look. The wallpaper was quite pricey, but the other decorative items were pretty inexpensive. Never settle on quality. It will show if you do.

Thank you, Ola of J’Adore Le Decor!