You can cre­ate a stair­way to style heaven

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - CON­NIE OLIVER

STAIRS are a unique ar­chi­tec­tural fea­ture of the home. By their very de­sign, they are dra­matic in scale (ris­ing or de­scend­ing sev­eral feet), have an in­ter­est­ing re­peat­ing pat­tern (as in the ac­tual stairs and/ or rail­ing and spin­dles) and of­fer open dis­play op­tions. While the stairs in your home might not seem es­pe­cially pretty at the mo­ment, you can cre­ate drama in this area in many ways. Stair­ways can be more than just a bor­ing through­way to an­other floor in the home. As you can see in our fea­ture pho­tos, cour­tesy of Du­lux Aus­tralia, a splash of colour can cre­ate a huge im­pact along a stair­way. The striped wall lead­ing down­stairs could be a stair­well lead­ing to a rec room or play room. The splash of colours is fun and invit­ing for a re­laxed, fam­ily space. The gor­geous red wall in the sec­ond photo cre­ates a dra­matic fo­cal point in an open con­cept space.

Small wall, huge drama

Small wall ar­eas are great places to bring in a splash of colour or dra­matic dis­plays. Be­cause of the small vis­ual area, vivid colour will pro­vide im­pact without be­ing too over­pow­er­ing. The wall space along a stair­case is a great place to play with colour without a huge com­mit­ment. If it doesn’t work out, it’s an easy enough fix. Paint, wall­pa­per or even fab­ric can be used in this area to give your home vis­ual in­ter­est. By dra­matic dis­play I am re­fer­ring to large paint­ings or large groups of paint­ings, tex­tured fin­ishes (like stone), mir­ror or tiled wall sur­faces, over­sized or dra­matic light fix­tures, art niches and so on. Drama can be cre­ated in many ways; not just with colour.

Con­sider all of the an­gles

When cre­ated a dra­matic ef­fect in a stair­way, look at the view from all an­gles. The view go­ing up and down the stairs should be con­sid­ered. Very of­ten, the fac­ing wall when de­scend­ing the stairs is quite high and can ben­e­fit from large scale treat­ments such as a dec­o­ra­tive area rug, a large paint­ing or even a unique item like a vin­tage wed­ding dress, an­tique tex­tile or shelv­ing to dis­play a col­lec­tion. Be creative.

If there is a nat­u­ral ledge or rail­ing in this area, con­sider dis­play­ing drap­ing plants or a col­lec­tion of dec­o­ra­tive items on the ledge or again, drape an in­ter­est­ing tex­tile over the ledge/rail­ing to cre­ate drama.

Ris­ers are a blank can­vas

Stair ris­ers, which are the fronts of the stairs that face you, are an awe­some place to get creative with dis­play and fin­ishes. If the stairs are not car­peted (or if there is car­pet­ing only on the treads) the ris­ers are a se­ries of small, blank can­vasses just wait­ing for your dec­o­ra­tive ideas. This area can cre­ate a huge im­pact in the right set­ting and with the right dis­play. For ex­am­ple, if you have a cen­tre hall plan with a stair­case that greets you when you en­ter the home, you might con­sider dec­o­rat­ing the ris­ers to cre­ate im­pact in the foyer. I’ve seen ev­ery­thing from el­e­gant brass house num­bers be­ing at­tached to the mid­dle of each riser count­ing up from the num­ber one, to hand-painted dec­o­ra­tive tiles glued to the ris­ers in an at­trac­tive pat­tern. For a more ca­sual set­ting, like in a rec room, the ris­ers could be used to dis­play a col­lec­tion of vin­tage li­cence plates, sport­ing but­tons/pins or pen­nants.

Paint can be used in many unique ways to cre­ate in­ter­est on stair ris­ers. Paint each riser in a dif­fer­ent colour for a youth­ful, fun look or in soft, grad­u­ated tones of the same colour for a soft, ro­man­tic feel. A bright solid colour, like or­ange or red, might be just what the house doc­tor or­dered to give your home a lit­tle piz­zazz. If you’re handy with an artist’s paint brush, you could paint dec­o­ra­tive de­signs on each riser or sten­cil a favourite de­sign or pat­tern on the ris­ers. Cre­ate a sim­ple bor­der on each side of the ris­ers us­ing paint and mask­ing tape. To add ar­chi­tec­tural in­ter­est, at­tach dec­o­ra­tive mill­work (like rosettes, acorns or other ap­pliqués) to each riser in a pleas­ing pat­tern, and paint as de­sired.

Rail­ings and spin­dles

An­other way to up­date a bor­ing stair­case is to paint the rail­ing and spin­dles in a fresh colour or two. If the rail­ing is made of a rich wood that matches ei­ther the floor­ing or stair then con­sider paint­ing just the spin­dles in a warm white to break up the monotony of wood sur­faces while still main­tain­ing the dec­o­ra­tive wooden touches. If the rail­ing and spin­dles need work then paint all of the sur­faces in a fresh colour. Con­sider fun ideas like paint­ing the spin­dles in three or four dif­fer­ent colours for a fun, youth­ful look, or wind­ing thick, dec­o­ra­tive rope around each spin­dle for a nau­ti­cal look.

Sim­ple dis­play

If you don’t feel like get­ting out the paint can or hot glue gun you can still cre­ate vis­ual in­ter­est through dis­play. Place like items (in a sim­i­lar theme) along one side each step to cre­ate an in­ter­est­ing vertical vi­gnette. Items like small bird houses, dec­o­ra­tive pots, vases, books or CDs, dolls or other col­lec­tions can be dis­played in this very unique way. Only use this idea if there is suf­fi­cient room for dis­play without cre­at­ing a safety haz­ard. Place the items on the side away from the rail­ing for added safety. I don’t rec­om­mend this dis­play idea for house­holds with small chil­dren or pets.

Stair­ways are just one more place to get creative when dec­o­rat­ing your home. Have fun and keep me posted on your projects.

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