Elsie’s Stairway Makeover

I’m so excited to share our very first before/after reveal with you today! This post is sponsored by Kichler, who makes beautiful and affordable lighting that is also energy efficient.

In December, we closed on this home and the first thing we wanted to take care of was updating the flooring. The upstairs came with original hardwoods that we decided to match in the basement as well as the stairway, creating a pretty dramatic before and after (cue the dramatic music!).

Isn’t that SO MUCH BETTER??

Here’s a view looking down (sorry, the angle isn’t exactly the same but you get the idea!).

Let’s talk about the lighting first. As you can see in the photo above, the lighting was outdated and boring. Upgrading lighting is one of the simplest ways to update a home. In our case, we wanted to update the lighting to something new that was energy efficient, but also felt authentic to the mid-century style of our home. Throughout our entire home we will replace almost every single fixture over the next few years, and we’ll be careful to choose lighting that fits the era of our home, which was built in 1965. Here’s a before/after of the lighting—what a HUGE update!

We chose the Brettin LED vanity light. They don’t require bulbs, so you they will never burn out and need to be replaced, which is a huge win. They are so beautiful and modern, but with a nod to the 1960s, which inspires me! This same style comes with one, three and four lamps. They also come in polished nickel or matte black, but you know I LOVE gold and it’s all gold everything in my home. I am planning to use more of these in one of our bathrooms when we get to that phase of our remodel as well.

You’ll also notice we used our first color paint here! It’s no secret that I LOVE white walls (all the walls in our new home are Bit of Sugar by Behr, which is a nice **bright** white), but I wanted to use my first pop of color at the bottom of this stairway, and we chose Loveliest Leaves by PPG. I tested a lot of greens to find the perfect light pickle green for this spot. I’m hoping that we can use it in a few more spots throughout our home as we go!

The art print we used in this spot is by Jennifer Ament. I love this print and have moved it over and over to different spots in our old (and now new) homes.

Here’s our coat rack. It’s really cute—I’m going to use the larger version in our laundry room to store all our reusable bags.

At the top of the stairway is a print from our new ABM print shop (launching very soon!!!). At both the bottom and top of the stairs I added a basket. These are to store shoes since the bottom of the stairs is our garage access where we enter and exit as a family all the time.

We also added some hanging plants at the top of the stairs.

When we first purchased this home, I wanted to close off the wall here. But after really thinking it through, I didn’t want to lose the stone since it’s a fun ’60s feature. I wasn’t in love with it though. Then one day, the first week after we moved in, I woke up and visualized a row of hanging plants above the ledge. I immediately rushed out to find some plants (random memory, but this was also my last pre-pandemic normal shopping experience for a while … RIP). And I ordered some hanging planters (I’ll link them all below, a few were from a local shop).

Hanging planter links: Speckled set, macrame plant holder, ceramic planter.

Here’s a link to a similar rattan mirror.

*Note: Some of these had drainage holes on the bottom, which I covered with tape (inside and out) and left the plastic containers inside the hanging planters when they fit.

(I’m so happy we kept the stone!)

Thank you so much to Kichler for sponsoring this post! I’m so in love with our new lights.

If you have any questions about our stairway makeover, I’d love to answer them in the comments. It feels INCREDIBLE to be making some progress on our new space. Thank you so much for your love and support throughout our remodel. xx- Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Project Assistant: Collin DuPree. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • I’ve repainted my home office 3 times and couldn’t seem to find the right color. After seeing this post, I went out and got a sample of this exact color (Loveliest Leaves) and I’m in love. Thanks for the inspiration!

    One note: it’s not made by Behr, it’s made by PPG. 🙂

    • Thanks for letting us know! We’ll update the post 🙂

  • I’m surprised with toddlers with vision issues and small dogs that you don’t have a runner on your stairs. I love the clean look but sadly I cannot convince my husband to go no-runner and we only have an aging dog. Has it been ok so far?

  • How hard was it to redo the stairs? We have a carpet runner built into our stairs(there is wood trim on the sides that is the same height as the carpet), and I’d like to explore other options. The tan builder-grade carpet when you first walk into our house is kinda blah.

    • Same question as Isabel: how do you hang the planters? And do you take them down to water? I made a macrame plant hanger recently but am too nervous to hang it. Worried it will pull out esp. when it’s heavier after watering. Thanks!

    • I think it depends on your home, but ours were pretty much rebuilt because there was not hard wood under the carpet at all. XX

  • A note about LED lights – they do have a bulb and will eventually burn out (20 years or so is their lifespan I believe?)

    Some LED fixtures come with LED light sources built in, and these cannot be replaced so you will need to replace the entire light when it eventually dies. LED bulbs are also sold that can be put in most light fixtures.

    So just something to be aware of! These lights will eventually need to be replaced — far in the future 🙂

  • So surprised to see a non-white paint wall in your home. So many gorgeous finds! I’m so excited to see it all, thank you for sharing the journey with us.

  • Wow looks amazing!

    I’m indoor plants newbie, are these real plants? If so, does it leak when you water them?

    • Hi! I covered all the holes on the inside and outside. I do this often when I love a planter for indoors but it has drainage holes.

  • What is the color of your molding? The same as the white walls? I’m closing on a home and all the walls are crazy colors. We are wanting a fresh palette so we want to paint all the walls white with new molding ( they had painted the molding crazy colors too) any advice for new homebuyers?

    • It’s Ultra White by Behr- which I believe is the same as un-tinted. I like to do my trim brighter unless it’s already white (then I like to save a TON of time lol)

  • Love this and love the green!! Green is just my favorite paint color in most shades. My bedroom is actually painted a similar color!

  • you are SO talented! even though I would not choose that color, the ensemble of your design with the many well chosen accents is stunning! I especially love those stairs; congratulations on your new home!

  • So psyched to see a piece by Jennifer Ament in your home. She is one of my favorite artists!

  • Love the floor color, could you share details on the refinish/top treatment? Thank you!

  • Will you paint this stone? I know you were painting the other stone I believe a fireplace? Not sure where they are in relation to each other.

  • I’m so glad you kept the stone and adorable half wall! It looks great!! And that green is Perfect for the age of the house!!

  • Elsie, this is GORGEOUS!! You have inspired me in my home vibes so much in the past. I am Uber excited to see the rest of your reveals with this new beautiful house. Great work and congrats on your new home!!

  • How are the color temperatures on those Kichler lights? I’m currently looking for something to replace a super cheap, builder-grade vanity light in our master bathroom. I’m always a little wary of LED lights because it’s hard to tell if they’re going to skew towards the colder end of the light spectrum, and I prefer warmer lights.

    • Hi Erica, I just posted a story on @abeautifulmess insta with a video. But it’s not too cold at all in my opinion. I know what you mean- I don’t like any “blueish” lights and favor very warm lights as well!

    • Always look for the correlated color temperature (CCT or listed as Kelvin)…. you’ll be looking for something that says 2700K or 3000K. Hope that helps.

  • I had an almost identical green in my kitchen for years. I had very little wall space for paint, which helped. But literally, every time someone new walked in my house, and saw the green, they would gasp. Guessing not in a good way. But I have always loved that green. I ended up painting the walls red(another gasp), but I still am jonesing for that green. I loved it so much. My kitchen is due for a paint job again. You may have given me the courage to do it again. I mean, the rest of my kitchen is stark white, except for my black countertop, and cabinet hardware. Hmmm…

    Sorry, tangent ALL about me!! I love the planters so much. The lighting is great. So glad you didn’t enclose the wall, the hanging plants look great, and gives a little “pop” of color.

  • I love it—especially the green wall! Can’t wait to see more! Just a question—how warm is the color from the lights? I know a lot of LED lights tend to be brighter and cooler.

  • I love it! And I love that you refer to it as “pickle green” 🙂 My new couch is that color, so I’ll be using pickle green from now on too!!

  • I love it! Are you also using the color a Bit of Sugar for your doors & trim? I am having such a hard time deciding on a color.

    • Hi! For the doors and trim we went brighter- Ultra White by Behr.

  • Looks great! Would a strip of wallpaper on the crown molding above the stone be a crazy idea? I know you love a good wallpaper!

  • I love it so much!!!! And that green color for the wall OMG! Would you mind sharing the brand and name of the color? Meggie

  • i love the pop of green and you definitely transformed the staircase. a few questions!
    1. what is the name of the zigzagging plant
    2. where did you get the first basket you show that has the shoes in it?
    3. where did you get the pink and gold accent table?


    • Hi Samira!
      The zig zag is called a fishbone cactus or ric rac cactus or “Selenicereus Anthonyanus”

      The first basket is older from Target I believe.

      The pink and gold table is older from West Elm. XX

    • Hi! I have a similar basket to the one you asked about and purchased it from Cost Plus World Market – if this is helpful! https://www.worldmarket.com/product/large-natural-rattan-eve-basket.do?sortby=ourPicks&from=Search

  • I understand why you are happy! The result is perfect!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  • THOSE LIGHTS ????? Also, I LOVE the green! So cheerful! And I’m glad you kept the stone. Can’t wait to see more!

    • omg elsie I am IN LOVE with the stone! absolutely beautiful and I am so glad you kept it, too!

    • Love that green!!

      Which hooks did you use to hang your macrame planters? I’ve been making my own macrame plant hangers, but haven’t worked up the nerve to hang them up yet!

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