Our Bright White Stairway

A bright white stairway!Here’s a fun little before/after story from Jeremy’s and my renovation process! When we purchased our home the stairs looked like this…

Our stairway (BEFORE)Because of the homes age (it was built in 1885) we knew there probably would be hardwoods under most of the carpets, but we couldn’t know the condition of everything until after moving in.

On closing day we got our keys, did a little happy dance, and started ripping up carpet! It was exciting and a tiny bit scary.

We were pleasantly surprised that almost all of the wood floors were in decent condition and would be in great condition with just a little buffing and sealing! The stairs were already painted (a not-so-lovely shade of green). And after talking over options with our painter, we decided that the most practical choice was to paint them again.

First, we chose white base boards with black steps. It was a mistake. An expensive mistake… oops! But you know, in every renovation story there are one or two slightly expensive mistakes.

Our black stairs didn’t work for our lifestyle because they looked instantly dirty… even hours after being mopped. We have a fawn pug who sheds a lot and, it was just bad.

In addition, my grandmother came over and commented that it was hard for her to see the steps when walking down (yikes! and that was in the daylight) so we decided to bite the bullet and have them repainted.

Our stairway (AFTER)After! We had them painted while were out of town for the weekend, because the heavy duty sealant needed a few days to cure. When we got home, late one night, we were shocked by how bright and beautiful they looked. SUCH an improvement! Yesssss!

White painted stairsAfter months of living with our white stairs, I am so happy with the choice. They are easy to clean, bright and cheerful.

I will warn, though, that painted stairs are notoriously slick, and we will probably consider adding a runner to them as our family grows. For now, we’re in love!Mustard yellow doorAt the top of the staircase there is a small landing with a closet. We painted this door mustard yellow, and I think it’s really fun. I want to add a cute knocker or a hook to this door soon.

White painted stairs + stenciled statement wallThanks so much for reading! Have you ever painted a staircase? I’d love to hear about your experiences. xo. Elsie

  • I agree with Carrie–what brand of paint/name is that mustard yellow?? It is absolutely gorgeous.

  • I have been loving your home renovations! Keeps me dreaming of the day that my hubby and I will own our own home! I know we will be revisiting these blog posts for inspiration! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • It looks beautiful! I’d love to have white floors in our house, but for now we’re only renting. One fine day…

  • we have the same problem with our new house. beautiful hardwoods everywhere, but horribly painted wood stairs underneath even worse carpet.

    i’m not sure we could get away with white, since it’s a very high traffic, straight from outside stairwell and i’ve got two young kids, but it is great inspiration!

    i just wonder how labor intensive this would be to do it ourselves.

  • I lobe the white with the accent wall and the mustard door, it all pulls together really well!


  • I LOVE your stained glass window!! Absolutely gorgeous.

    xo, Victoria

  • I love the white stairs! I don’t think you can have too much white especially when you have amazing features like the stained glass window and post. Door also fabulous!

  • I like the white staircase! 🙂 And though I’m not typically a fan of the yellow mustard-y color, it looks great on the closet door surrounded by all the white! 🙂

  • I have a fawn pug too (his name is Otis) and I started giving him 1/2 a tsp twice a day of apple cider vinegar to help with another issue he was having and it ended up really improving his skin and coat and now he sheds less than half as much as he used too. Google it, it works wonders!

  • Last fall, my girlfriend and I bought a house in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago and have been slowly but surely renovating it ever since. (A little old lady lived in it for the past 50 years–and quite possibly died in it–and, while in good shape, it *looks* like an old lady lived in it for the past 50 years. Hence… a lot of work, almost entirely done DIY and with our four lil hands.

    One of the most satisfying things we’ve done recently (after finally finishing demolishing, reframing, insulating, drywalling, and painting the upstairs) is to paint the stairs, which were brown-painted wood in bad cosmetic shape, covered with reddish brown rag carpet. ICK! They are now glossy pencil-lead grey with a bright teal racing stripe running along the outer corner. AND I LOVE THEM.

    So glad to see other folks making homes their own!

  • Love just how clean this looks!

    x Sara from tinysugarbee.blogspot.com

  • Amazingly bright and beautiful! I love the idea of adding a knocker to the mustard door. Accent walls are something that I don’t think I’d even thought of… I do accent nails when I paint my nails, so why not have an accent wall as well?! Now I just need to buy a house…


  • I love love all white as a base. It’s perfect for growing into.

  • What an improvement! I love the moldings around your windows, too. I’m assuming that was original with the house? Can’t wait to see more pics!


  • Lovely update..you cant go wrong with white color..


  • Such an amazing difference, the whole space looks so bright and the mustard door… good shout!

  • The white looks wonderful! And the mustard door? Perfection!

  • Love how bright and welcoming it is now!

    xo Jennifer


  • If you really wanted to renovate, as opposed to just mitigate, you should’ve returned the stairs to a natural wood. The house looks like a hospital. Aside from the carpet, the old color was far better. Horse wall paper? Call it what you want, it’s got no place in a victorian. You think it’s “fun” but it’s going to grow old in about a week. Maybe less.

  • Intrigued to see what they looked like with black as well! But love the freshness your white stairs bring. 🙂


  • Love the WHITE! Might you be able to tell me the color and brand of paint??? Thanks!!! <3 Jill

  • My parents have painted stairs as well and the slippery part was an issue for them also. They found some sort of paint additive (I think at Lowe’s) that makes the stairs feel kind of sandy for some grip as you walk on them. I’m not sure how that would look with bright white, but it could be an option if you decide against the runner.

  • I LOVE your white stairs and that mustard door. I have two little boys and could never have white stairs, but I’m so happy that other people can and that I can enjoy theirs : ) Beautiful!

  • Wow,those white stairs look so amazing and it gives so much light to your room!I think the cutest thing is the mustard yellow door,soo sweet!


  • that staircase looks great! i love white stairs. we had them in our old house too! 🙂


  • My stair case was a dark brown and when I painted it white is made a world of difference! So clean and crisp and-you’re right-so easy to clean!
    I LOVE your mustard door too.

  • I would have expected white to look dirty quickly, too. Looks great though, and I am so in love with pony accent wall. LOVE. Adds a lot to that space.


  • Your house looks so beautiful!


  • Your stairway looks beautiful! Very fresh and clean looking and the dark wood bannister and post are striking against the white. Happy Easter! Linda

  • Wow what a difference! It wasn’t bad to start with but what a difference the white makes….love the paper and the mustard door too!

  • love the all white! so bright and crisp and that horse pattern wall is perfection with it!


  • Reading that kind of post encourages me to decorate my home, I love the way you’re doing it!


  • Yes, we painted our stairs with a sandy kind of paint that made the steps safe to walk on. The grain doesn´t show much at all, I highly recommend it!

  • Wow! The before and after photos says it all! I love the white stairs…very pretty and clean looking.

  • love it! in fact i love how you decorate your house, its very creative! and its always a pleasure to follow your journey 🙂


  • Could you share the name of the white paint you used? It’s looks perfectly warm but still bight. Thank you!!

  • Oh my… Carpeted stairs should be banned ! I love it afterwards though…


  • it looks so unbelievably good! I love white painted floors as well. thought it would be very hard to clean, but they look incredible in your place! love it!

  • this is such a cute stairway!
    i love the mustard door!


  • I’m having complete stair envy! I live in an apartment in Dubai and really miss stairs. The white is beautifully fresh, airy and a perfect canvas for such stunning features as your window and door.

  • Beautiful stairs, white is the best colour!!! In the past I helped a friend painting her stairs ‘gold’, which was beautiful for a while, but now it’s white and looks much better.
    Have a great weekend.

  • You did a great job! I totally love clean white designs! 🙂


  • How beautiful and bright. I have a fawn pug as well. And dark wood floors. I know all too well the battle of the pug hair. My floor is NEVER clean.

  • I was just at beautiful theatre and the lights were dimmed and the stairs were extremely hard to see, but they had these gold linings on them (across each step), and were so pretty and made it manageable to walk on.

    These are the stairs at a local shopping area:

    And I know you guys could pull something like this off (maybe at the top of each step so you can see them better! Also, hmm having a musician husband!):

  • Love the white staircase. We have the same in our house, currently arguing with the boy who wants to out carpet down!

  • It looks beautiful !!
    New post up: http://www.thestilettoholic.com/2013/03/24/cotton-candy/
    Kiss from Paris

  • thanks for sharing your mistakes and all, it’s one of the reasons your blog is so beautiful:)

  • I love it! It looks so tidy and clean. I have painted stairs once … It was in an old rented house I shared with 4 other ladies at university. The home had previously been occupied by 5 guys and was a mess but the rent was fantastic and we were happy to have it. We were each in charge of a major decorating project before moving in and I got to paint the stairs and hallways. I went with brown paint. It didn’t end up looking as fantastic as yours but it was a major improvement over what was there before.

  • I remember it before, tha wall with horses is really soo nice. Have a great weekend.


  • What a great change! I love all white decor with colour touches! Living in the north of Germany, where the sun and the light are nowhere to be seen, it’s very important to create the brighter atmosphere possible!
    I love your house!

  • Hello!
    I think your white stairs are beautiful. I still live with my parents so it wasn’t I personally who repainted our stairs but in my home the stairs are a bright red glossy colour and the floor in our hall and some doorsteps around the house are also the same colour and I absolutely love it! It does get kind of dusty but we don’t have any animals so at least it takes more than a couple of hours before we need to clean them again 🙂

  • Love the horses! Just pinned it on pinterest. Mahalo!


  • Amazing before and after!! I love that about houses that history to them and you can restore them to such beauty!!! I lived with a mustard carpet for a couple of years before realising we had the most amazing hard wooden floors – beautifully polished now!!!



  • Absolutely beautiful! I’m hoping my man will let me paint a colorful door like that when we have our own place. 😉

  • Before = ugly. After = really Rad! Love what you did with it. Opens up the area so much.

  • I don’t often comment but I have a weird question. Where did you get the container you have at the bottom of the stairs with the number 8 on it? I have one almost identical to it but missing the handles and with a different number on it. Hmm…

  • I have been dreaming of light filled, white interiors recently! they just breath fresh air into a home!
    xoxo Amie @ Spoonful of Vintage

  • pony stencils on the wall!?!
    omg, my inner eight year old is squealing with joy right now.
    it’s all coming together beautifully, doll!

  • WOW! The white is so clean and airy. Also love the stain glass and original molding. What a beautiful home!


  • great stairs, but that accent wall…wow! actually holy cow, i thought it was wallpaper until i clicked through! you’re amazing! xo


  • The white stairs look so much better than the carpeted ones! Love the horse wall, too!
    xo Heather

  • Is that stained glass part of the original house? I love stained glass. – Leah, wisestyle.wordpress.com

  • Oh that stained glass is incredible! I’m so happy for you two and your gorgeous place:)

  • What is with people covering up gorgeous hardwood with fugly carpet? We bought an 1899 Victorian last summer, and there were two bedrooms upstairs with terrible carpet. The second we closed, we went straight to the house and ripped up that sucker in both rooms. In the master, there was just plywood, so we wound up laying poplar a few months later, but in the guest, there was the most gorgeous original wood from the 19th century, so a little refinishing is all it took and it’s my favorite room in all of the house!

  • I am so in love with those white stairs. They are perfect.

  • This is amazingly beautiful. <3



  • Love the mustard… and I hate carpet! I really like what you did!


  • I’ve never painted stairs, but I did want to mention something about your pug. We have a black pug, Murphy and off-white carpet. His hair would show up everywhere. Someone told us to have him shaved, so we tried it. He is seriously so handsome now. Anyway, it dramatically cut down on the amount of pug hair in our home and made cleaning much easier.

  • Your home is so amazing! It has so much character and so many personal touches. The stairs look great. I love how you aren’t afraid to take risks with your decorating.


  • Painting these stairs was a genius idea! I currently looked at a home with the same carpeted ugly stairs and would have never even thought to rip the carpet up let alone paint the stairs white. Very clean look and makes the staircase look bigger.

  • I love the look of the white stairs! I actually have never lived in a house with stairs, so I had no idea that it was such a process painting them!



  • Your home is so pretty and spacious! Love the white stairs! 🙂

    Lulu xx


  • I love the white stairs! They look fab!


  • I painted my stairs white, and chose three shades of pink/lilac for the base boards. I love the gradient effect, and how girly it is without being too much. Too bad to hear about your first experience though, as black ‘n white stairs sound amazing!

  • I like the pop of mustard, but I am not so sure how I feel about the white stairs. I think they will accent a runner nicely though.

  • I think going all white was a great decision. The black probably detracted from the beautiful wood banister anyway. White complements the wood tone and allows the detailed carvings the banister to pop against the contrast.

  • Love the stairway and the light filled stair well. That wall is perfect.

  • I have not repainted any stairs, but we have been planning too for the past year and just haven’t gotten around to it… Anyway, love how yours turned out! I love how the mustard door really pops against the white.

  • beautiful! what a great choice! we’re in a rental now with ugly carpet stairs (when i say ugly, i mean the typical dirt colored carpet that a lot of rentals have so you can’t see the dirt) and i’m counting down the days till we move so i can do some stair remodeling. i love the idea of painting the riser a different color form the step. i see chevron in my future 🙂

  • Your house looks lovely! Especially the stairs! The stairs have such a charm to them :’)


  • I love them! They are seriously beautiful. I also still love your horse accent wall a lot! It adds so much to the character of your home!

  • This is an absolutely gorgeous little space of your home! Thanks for the sneak peek. I love the white walls with the mustard door and especially the little horse accent wall. I love older homes because of these types of accent in the homes. Our home is newer and doesn’t have any of this charm! Beautiful.
    ♥Emma Deer

  • A bright white crisp stairway is such a breath of fresh air in a home. You’ve done a great job.

  • it looks absolutely beautiful Elsie! And the mustard door pops on the all white stairs. Love it!

  • Carrie- I will check on that when I get home (& update the post). I’m not sure!

    • Were you able to check the paint name for the mustard door? Looking for a color like that!

      • Sorry! It was so long ago I have no way of locating it! My suggestion is to try a few colors that look similar- you have to find which one is right for your home/lighting anyway! :))

  • Love the white stairs!!

    I wonder if you could tell me the paint name for the mustard door. Our front door is a touch too yellow, not enough mustard, and yours is perfect!

  • These stairs look so gorgeous!! I have almost a completely white-walled house and now I am eyeing up my floors, lol. I love how white makes colours pop, like your beautiful window. Good to know that they are easy to clean, too! I’ve pinned these for my next home!!

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