painting the stairs {part 1: the taupe disaster}

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Well, we are back from our trip to visit my family in California, and as promised, I'll be posting some blogs with some of the projects we've been working on around here for the past few months.(: I'll also post a blog about our trip, but who has time for that when I recently painted our stairs!?

I mean, what would you really rather see? The California sun and ocean waves, or my newly painted stair treads?

Uh huh. Exactly.

When we moved in, the color of the stairs didn't bother me too much.
But then as time went on, and after we took the main color on the interior of the house from a mocha-brown to a lighter, and brighter sand-tan (Sherwin Williams Beach House), the color of the stairs started to grow on me.
It started to grow on me like something you wouldn't want growing on you.
Like a barnacle or something.
It had to go.

For starters, the paint didn't seem to follow any sort of pattern or sense of reason. The colors for different parts of the stairs seemed to have been chosen willy nilly.
Like a color-by-numbers gone wrong.

{please excuse the Christmas lights. The "before" photos were taken a few months ago... the end of January. Still bad, I know!}

As you can see in the pictures above, the stair treads were brown and the stair risers were white...
Except for the one stair riser after the first landing. It's blue. Like a continuation of the blue along the wall with the wreath on it. I love that color blue. I'm just not sure why it had to continue onto the stairs when all the other stair risers are white.

Then, looking at the sides of the stair treads from the ground, you can see that the sides of the treads are also white. I like this because it adds nice contrast to the blue wall. However, the bottom three steps? Yep. The sides of those steps were the same color brown as the stair treads, while the sides of the rest of the treads were white. (You can see this in the second picture above, bottom left).

Also, the wall along the lowest landing is blue, just like the wall with the wreath on it. (Third picture.) This makes sense. However, the sides of the bottom three steps below the first landing? The sides of those are the same color brown as the stairs. This can also be seen--just barely--in the bottom left of the second picture and the bottom right of the third picture. (Side note: the third "before" picture is actually an "after" picture, hence why you see the stair tread that was once blue, shown white. The brown sides still need to be painted, but we haven't found a close enough color match for the blue and we have no idea what the exact color it is.)

I'm not sure what happened here to make all this happen the way it did.
But it did.

The stairs were in desperate need of being painted anyway, because the paint was all scuffed up and scratched from years of use and wear. So frankly, the color-by-numbers catastrophe didn't even matter in the end because they needed to be painted regardless.

The scuffed paint made the stairs look like they were in a perpetual state of needing swept. But I assure you, they had just been swept when I took these pictures. Those "specks" are all scuffs! It was that bad and that noticeable.

Originally, I got this great idea that we should strip the paint off the treads and stain the wood to match the wood floors that are up and downstairs. It would be really great and really cool and really awesome to totally restore the wood to its former glory, and not have it painted that weird brown-that-tries-to-look-like-wood-but-it's-totally-not-even-close-to-looking-like-wood color, and it was all great and all swell when I realized:

The landing is made entirely out of particle board.

Not going to work. And not only that, but the particle board landing isn't even set on top of anything, it's set inside of the wood around it. (You can see this in the picture above with all the scuff marks.) Sure, we could change it. But it would require a wholelottawork and I really just wanted these babies painted now

Before I realized all this though, I did start sanding one little spot on a step and came to the realization that the stairs used to be sky blue. Yep, I said it. The stairs used to be sky blue. 

Mind. Blown.

I then had to decide what color to actually paint the stairs. I knew I definitely wasn't going to paint them the same trying-to-look-like-wood-but-totally-failing-at-it brown. I had been going through a very misguided (and short-lived) love of taupe so my natural first response was,


I'm still living in the embarrassment that is buying a gallon of taupe paint and immediately rescinding all feelings of like toward the color "taupe".

But away I went in my taupe induced frenzy. Painting at night, no less, which is never a good idea because I was probably tired and thinking taupe was a good idea when let's be honest, it never is.

Painting at night.
Never a good idea.

What could be so wrong about painting at night, you ask? Well, because when I painted this "test step", it was late and I was really trying to convince myself that it might look okay. And I was starting to believe myself.
But then morning comes and you see this:

Notice anything? Anything at all? Does the sun help illuminate the fact that taupe is never a good idea? Especially when your walls are not that much lighter in color than the color you were about to paint your entire stair case with?! 

Help, I'm trapped in a taupe case of emotion!

And yes, those are paw prints on the top taupe step. 
Say that five times fast.


Part 2 of this post is coming soon!
I just didn't want this post to be forever long.
Stay tuned to see the "after" pictures!


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