Before and After: 2 DIYs Transform a Dingy Staircase into an Artistic Centerpiece

published Dec 2, 2022
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About this before & after
Home Type
House
Project Type
Stairs
Style
Colorful
Skill Level
DIY
Rental Friendly
No
Before: the top of tan carpeted stairs

You’ve (probably) seen it on Apartment Therapy time and time again: A blah, beige space gets an ultra-colorful redo. (After all, who doesn’t love a dose of color in their life?!) This time, we’re serving up color inspo staircase-style.

Homeowner, YouTuber, and DIYer Marcel Dagenais (@brewcitybuilds) gave a set of stairs in his house a little (OK, a lot of) color because “the before situation was pretty rough,” he explains. “The stairs were covered in old, worn-out carpet. There was a pretty large rip on one of the steps and they smelled like dust and dog.”

Credit: Marcel

As for what he wanted the “after” to look like, he knew when he bought the house. He’d seen his friend, interdisceplinary artist Trish Andersen, use textile art as a runner in her own home, and knew he wanted to replicate the look in his Milwaukee pad. “When [Trish] started her rug line, I knew I had to have it,” Marcel says. “Since I painted most of the walls white in our house, I wanted a bold color statement in the heart of our home.”

He ripped up the dirty beige and completed the project in two parts. The carpet removal, sanding, hole-filling, and painting of the walls and stairs happened before he left for a trip to New York, and the runner installation happened when returned for a quick visit home — in a one-day (!!!) project. “I think it was around $3,500 all-in for the paint and runners and everything else,” Marcel says. “Luckily, I got the bestie discount from Trish, so I saved a bit in the runners.”

Marcel was glad for the time in between to let the paint properly dry and cure (and because it took a couple of months for the rugs to be made), but the tight turnaround to install the runner was a feat. “It was a little harder than I imagined, as most DIY projects are, so I’m proud that I was actually able to finish it completely in that small window of time,” he says.

Credit: Marcel

Marcel used Behr’s Ultra Pure White paint on the walls and stairs, Sherwin-Williams’ Super White for the trim, and Valspar’s Noir for the handrail.

Marcel added new stair nosing, and, after vacuuming the stairs to make sure they were clean, he attached three of Trish’s colorful runners with double-sided carpet tape and 18-inch staples, using clamps to make sure the 25-inch-wide runner was centered and taut all the way down. “If anyone plans to install a carpet runner on stairs themselves, they do need the proper tools to do it right,” he advises. “It wasn’t the easiest project to get done, but it is possible. I break everything down from start to finish … on my YouTube channel, so check that out if you plan on taking on this endeavor.”

Credit: Marcel

The hardest part of the project, Marcel says, was adjusting the runner — especially when accounting for the bullnose (the thick overhang part) of the steps. “I’m a perfectionist when I take on any home reno project, so it took me a bit of time to get the tension right and tight on the steps,” he explains. “It was a legit workout to hold them taut while securing them with staples. It was a pretty sweaty project, to be honest.”

But the (literal) sweat equity was worth it. “I just love how much color the stairwell has,” Marcel says. “It looks like dripping paint coming down the stairs, and it’s amazing. I sometimes catch myself staring at it when the light is just right in the afternoon. It’s just so bold, so it makes me happy. I tend to lean to more minimalism in our house, but I think it adds something special, especially when people enter the hallway and see it for the first time. It’s fun to see their reaction.”

It’s a grand entrance indeed!