Not The Stairway to Heaven

On Friday of the long Labor Day weekend we (hubby and I—no really, both of us) decided to do a home project. It’s been a crazy summer, followed by a hectic return to school and having an extra day to get something done around our house was intoxicating. There were plenty of projects to choose from. I listed them out and the hubby said, “Let’s tackle that one—it sounds like a fun project.”

The project: Un-carpeting our stairs.



Friday night we debated and talked thru color choices. I didn’t have a ‘plan’ but we had enough building materials (I can’t resist a bargain) to have some options. Sea glass colored tile or the $5 galloon of Brown Opps paint. The paint won.
Saturday morning I left hubby and his testosterone pulling up the carpet while the 3- year- old rascal and I made the paint run. We had the main color but needed to accent it. 2 hours later I returned home frazzled, worn out and at wits end and with only 3 sample color choices (2 from the oops shelf). Sidebar: Trying to make color choices with no plan in mind while chasing a 3 year old around Lowe’s was not fun. Hubby and son had the stairs devoid of carpet, padding and numerous staples. My oomph returned.

Until I spied issue #1.

Issue #1. I don't think they are supposed to look like that!

Issue #1. I don’t think they are supposed to look like that!

I am going to try and make this short. Our house was built by builders we like to call Dumb A*& and Dumb A&*ier. Turns out they ran out of money about ½ way thru the process. Someone else stepped in to get it to selling shape. We swooped in and got the house AS IS for a bargain (that is a whole ‘nother blog). AS IS in this case is defined as: ½ done with no skill using whatever building materials are in the dumpster. Our house is full of short-cuts and semi-complete items. Door ways that aren’t square, walls with paint sprayed on in place of primer and, unbeknownst to us—shoddily constructed stairs. Underneath the carpet was the biggest conglomeration of boards you’ve ever seen in your life. Some were ½ painted as if they had been used as dropcloths, some were full of knots, some were crooked and all of them were different sizes. ISSUE NUMBER 1.
I ignored that issue and went to work. My testing space with the $5 OPPS paint grew larger and larger and larger until I had an entire wall finished. That wall touched another wall which touched another wall. Sitting on the floor painting I discovered that our baseboards were about as lovely as the stairs. While painting brown I used the sample jar of white to try and camouflage the worst of the baseboard issues. 5 hours, a gallon of paint and a container of sample paint later I stopped. Day 1 was over and we hadn’t even gotten to the stairs.

Day 2: Tackle the stairs. Luckily some brilliant woman on Pintrest had advised to work on every-other-stair so you could still access the upper regions of your house. So that’s what I did. The step board was one color, the stair risers another. The front of the stairs matched the step board. Issue #2-the front of the stairs was made out of a mis-mash of junk board. A coat of paint didn’t disguise it…in fact it made it worse. And I went ahead and painted all 16 stairs just to be sure.

At the bottom of the stairs I discovered issue#3. I hated it. The red paint for the stairs was just UGH. The front of the stairs—the focal point for pete’s sake-looked like painted sawdust and the gaps in the boards were screaming MISTAKE HERE, MISTAKE HERE.
I couldn’t solve issue 1 or 2 so I decided to tackle number 3 on my own. Once again PINTREST to the rescue. I remembered reading something about stain and aging. As a woman of action I jumped right in, opened a clearance can of black stain and went to work. As an impulsive woman I didn’t take the time to actually look up the directions so I didn’t know what I was doing but I was doing something. Let’s just say by the 4th or 5th step I had perfected by technique. Which means as soon as I thought I was finished I had to jump back up to the top to re-do the first ones. I hate back-tracking.

This is so NOT what I had in mind.

This is so NOT what I had in mind.

While I was frantically painting and rubbing and painting and rubbing, hubby was figuring out issue #2.

Day 2 ended with a little hope and a new plan.

Day 3: more painting. If it was sitting still and was in the stairwell it got painted. At this point about ½ the steps are complete, the landing is raw wood, the part stair fronts are ugly, there are gaps in the stairs big enough for a Tonka truck and we are on our last day. Hubby concocts faux stair fronts out of pretty wood. Paint those. Opps…now need to antique those as well. Patience is NOT a virtue I posess and this drying process was making me nut up. So I quit waiting. Yeah. Not my finest moment. Black stain on wet khaki paint is not so pretty.

Stenciling. In my sleepless night I dreamt of pretty, decorated stairs. Stenciling would give me the desired effect, or so I thought. I even had plans to use the baby gate with its perfect circle pattern in my grand scheme. Now that there were pretty boards to work with I can test my theory. This is the FUN part!! I grab my stencils and go to work.

Uh-GUH-LEE. Now I have wet stencil patterns on wet paint covered in gooey stain. I throw in the towel (literally). Change clothes to cover the pallet that is covering my legs and head out to the craft store for some REAL decorations.

hubby enlist help in implementing his solution while I am gone.

hubby enlist help in implementing his solution while I am gone.

I come home. Painting is done. Drying is not. At this point all the stairs are painted, stained or a combination of the 2. Tiny little toe prints and BIG tennis shoe tread serve as decorations on my newly painted and antiqued stairs—NOT the decorations I have in mind. I set about re-working (not a favorite task of mine).

HOURS later the bulk of the work is done. WHEW. Phil has figured out a solution for issue #1 and issue#2 at this point. These prove to be very time laden solutions. He cuts trim and board individually for each stair—remember none of them are the same size. While he figured that out I figured out a decorating scheme for the walls. I scrounged up some pictures to go into frames and bing-bang-boom had a plan

Enough of my froo-froo work. Hubby put me back to work. He cut while I painted—yes, more painting to make all those tiny little pieces match. Pieces painted and semi-dry he headed inside to hammer his brilliant solution into place. At this point he even asked me, “How does it feel to be married to a genius?”

Tap-tap-tap. Thud-Thud-Thud. He stepped back for my approval and…..doesn’t get it. The pieces don’t blend; in fact they don’t even match. The solutions screamed, “THIS IS TO COVER UP SOMEONE ELSE’S MISTAKE!” I don’t think I actually said the words, “I hate it,” aloud. Really, I don’t. That would have been rude. Of course I might have since his face fell and he looked like he was going to be sick all over my newly bared, semi-damp and antiqued stair case.

When in doubt…accessorize. Works for outfits- why not stairs? I had an IDEA. (of course this all started because of I had an idea). A little accessorizing and VIOLA! Problem solved.

Accessorize! See the books?

Accessorize! See the books?

At this point we were so close. So close to being ready for a Facebook picture—my definition of a project complete. The only thing left to do are the other ½ of the stairs, the landing and the hand rail. Oh, I forget to mention that. Seems as if our builder, Dumb A and Dumb Aier in their hasty attempts to finish our house put up the handrail in sheetrock—not studs. A handrail anchored in sheetrock and a 13 year old so who looks at the handrail as a tool for vaulting down the stairs does not a good combination make. This face made evident by the 3 gaping holes in the sheetrock and the handrail that currently resides in the closet. It’s 8 pm on day 3 of this project.

See those holes-yeah-those aren't supposed to be there.

See those holes-yeah-those aren’t supposed to be there.

Night of Day 3: I didn’t get my facebook picture. I did get one hole filled in with metal net and sheetrock mud. Issue #4 I used the entire galloon of brown paint on the walls. How am I going to cover up these patches—assuming the other 2 get the same treatment? Issue#5-We are back to work, back to after-school activities and out of free time.

There will be a picture. Soon. Of a completed stairwell.

Lowe’s will never ask me to advertise on my blog page.


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