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Help: What to do with these stairs
mrytle
January 13, 2013 in Design Dilemma
What should I do with the stairs in the hallway to update our look?

We moved into this 1920s house 2 years ago and can’t decide what to do to make it look brighter/more modern. When we bought the house, the realtor kept stressing its original charm, but we’re not sure that people do regard the dark wood as charm.
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calikym
OMG, that staircase is amazing!!!!!
8 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 5:45PM
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PRO
Studio S Squared Architecture, Inc.
Your trim and stair are absolutely gorgeous, wouldn't change a thing. Looks like your floors could use some help/replacing however?
8 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 5:46PM
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mrytle
I agree the floor does need attending to.
4 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 5:53PM
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Darzy
Maybe just paint the risers?

5 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 5:55PM
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jansgirl
The staircase is beautiful as is but I can understand your wish for a more updated look. I would suggest a runner in a modern simple pattern. This would add color and make the stairs more quiet at the same time. I would try to tie in the pattern from your stained glass. Maybe someone will post with some suggestions! hint, hint
3 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 5:56PM
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krystenm
Its not the staircase! It's the floor
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 5:58PM
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calikym
I don't know what your budget is, but those stairs are so gorgeous as is. Start with re-finishing your floor and staining darker if you want or lave natural. Then revisit the staircase because it is already gorgeous, one of the prettiest I've seen.
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 6:00PM
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feeny
Let me assure you, people DO regard the dark, original wood on the staircase as "charm." Indeed, I would describe it as gorgeous!
3 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 6:01PM
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kmislick
Keep the staircase. My problem is that there are too many dingy yellow tones here. Keep the staircase as is. Paint the walls (maybe a crisp gray/white) and add a new rug (with lots of blues or reds) to cover up the wood floors until you can refinish them.
3 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 6:59PM
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kimdee24
Oh, they just don't trim out houses like that anymore! Love the stairs and trim (and that stained glass), so much character!
3 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 7:07PM
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Eva Tuersley
Love the stairs and the stained glass. The wall definitely needs painting. Not sure what your pallete is to even start suggesting. When that's done, hang a huge work of art in that wall. One of my faves is an enormous antique mirror I picked up for $25. At auction.
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 7:19PM
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anthip
Excluding the floor - which looks to need sanding and re-staining - again, I think it's your walls that need a better colour. Something with a nice green or the crisp grey/white that kmislick suggests? If you want a modern touch that still fits in to the look you can get some great kilim style runners. I love the green textured wallpaper in the last image.

[houzz=Cottage Dining Room]

[houzz=Victorian Splendor]

[houzz=Viewridge Craftsman Spec]

[houzz=Acadian Home - Entry Hall]

[houzz=Los Angeles, CA Residence]

[houzz=Staircases featuring runners and Zoroufy stair rods]
0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 7:19PM
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tvannorman
I'd paint the wainscotting white in semi gloss, paint the spindles and the risers. Leave the tread to match rest of hardwood floor. Crisp and classic, you could even paint the handrail darker when you refinish the floors.
2 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 7:20PM
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PRO
AJD Interiors
You can certainly brighten things up by painting (as others have suggested) the walls and re-finishing the floors. I also think an interesting runner would add some warmth and texture, or even wallpaper going up the staircase wall. You have a lot of beautiful wood tones here; you just need to add some texture and depth.
2 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 7:22PM
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groveraxle
Don't touch that stair! Please, I beg you.

Okay, now let me get serious. You also posted about your fireplace and leaded glass doors, wondering if they were worth keeping. You have purchased a beautiful craftsman home and don't realize what you have.

Please do some research, look at pictures on houzz, start an ideabook. I'm sure you'll come to appreciate this style in time.

Ideabook: American Architecture: The Elements of Craftsman Style
Ideabook: Renovation Detail: The Tapered Craftsman Column
Ideabook: Houzz Tour: Scarboro Craftsman
Ideabook: My Houzz: 2 Generations Unite in an Oregon Craftsman
3 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 7:22PM
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Eva Tuersley
I agree. They've inherited a harp, and they think it's a banjo.
2 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 7:27PM
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feeny
You have to understand that to those of us who cherish the rarity and architectural beauty of Craftsman homes, talking about painting the wood work is like someone saying they want to replace the glass on an original Tiffany lamp.
8 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 7:30PM
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judianna20
Eva, feeny, a cute way to describe what they have. Isn't that staircase the best?


0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 7:33PM
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John Seiffert
You can hire a professional to clean staircase and French polish to bring up shine if you think that's what it needs. Painting would be a mistake. New paint and interesting artwork on stairwell wall may be a better fix than painting the stair.
3 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 7:34PM
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tvannorman
It's just paint and wood, it can always be restored. Maybe you don't play the harp and you want your home to reflect your own story and not someone else's.
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 7:48PM
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Darzy
@feeny...I usually agree with you but painting some of the wood here can't be compared with replacing glass on a Tiffany Lamp! myrtle...I can see why you'd like to lighten the space and update. I think it can be done without losing the "original charm". This is YOUR house and if you want to paint some of the wood, go right ahead. I'm not saying paint all of the original wood,but it can be done tastefully and keep the original craftsmanship and charm of the home. Make this house your own.

2 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 7:55PM
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Darzy
@Eva...they didn't inherit a harp and think it's a banjo. They bought a charming house they want to to brighten up and make their own.
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 8:05PM
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Jayme H.
People pay a lot to replicate that look nowadays! The floors need refinishing/a runner would be gorgeous, some wall repainting &.....and the results should be astounding!
0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 8:08PM
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Eva Tuersley
...and I'm sure they will. There's LOTs of great input.
0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 8:08PM
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wildfan
I think the staircase is gorgeous and charming. I think it's a shame to paint beautiful wood, but it's your house and you get to do with it whatever you like. I love dark wood, but do you?
0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 8:44PM
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Darzy
myrtle..don't get me wrong. I love beautiful wood and charm of older homes. I've seen so many people (and here on Houzz) live with real wood beams and beautiful dark mohogany wood paneling and hate it for years because it is "dark and gloomy" but won't paint because it is "real wood and quality". After they paint and lighten the space they have no regrets. But, did you buy the house because you love the dark wood and craftsmanship and "charm" of the home? Can you brighten elsewhere to love the home without painting the wood? Trust yourself. :)
0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 9:23PM
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PRO
A Crew of Two
I would paint everything white except the handrail and main post, stain them darker along with the stair treads and then find a gorgeous wallpaper for drama.
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 9:28PM
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cyn222
I love the mixed look of white paint and wood treads.
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 11:45PM
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saraj11357
Love the stairs! I think the floor needs to be redone! Looks beautiful!
1 Like   January 14, 2013 at 12:37AM
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Dani Pollard
I would paint the risers in white.
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 12:46AM
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slowedownnow
I just showed my husband your pics and he literally started coughing/choking. We are lovers of the beautiful woodwork and all its charm. Living in a 1970's builder grade subdivision home with no architectural interest except for bay windows we added we both covet your stairway/entrance. A runner on the stairs can more easily be removed than layers of paint. Paint will brighten/warm up your walls and then they seem to be the absolute best place for either framed artwork or (my favorite) a family gallery of b & w photos in complimentary frames. Cherish your home's character...there are lots of us out here who think it is stunning.
1 Like   January 14, 2013 at 1:21AM
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orangecamera
If they are going to paint the stairs, is there a paint that strips easily if someone wants to remove it in the future? I spent years stripping many layers of old paint off a stairway like this. What a pain!
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 3:22AM
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inkwitch
Well, looks like everyone loves your staircase, and quality work is hard to come by. (3" baseboards out of plastic? Yuck.) There a lot of things you could do to the facing risers, and houzz has done at least 1 ideabook on that topic. I caution against painting anything you think you'll have to strip later -- tastes do change over time! Depending on your plans and age, resale value may be an issue.

The one thing I would change is that doorframe facing the staircase. There can be too much natural wood, and it may make a big difference to blend that with your wall paint in some way (not necessarily the same color) -- and remove the mirror. I'm sure you're aware of the flooring issues.
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 3:39AM
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PRO
Ironwood Builders
REFINISH THE FLOORS! You bought what is, in essence, a historic home, the slim slat oak flooring screams it as does the staircase. Embrace your choice! Go period styling, club chairs and oriental rugs, dark woods and colors from the Benjamin Moore decks. Look at Old House Journal, This Old House, Period 1900, American Bungalow...all mags that help!
1 Like   January 14, 2013 at 4:17AM
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mrytle
Klinton you posted an interesting photo. What is on the risers, wallpaper or carpet?
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 5:55PM
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mrytle
Thank you for all the fantastic suggestions. It seems that the floor is the major problem.
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 6:04PM
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cjenkins1992
If you want to make it more modern without destroying the integrity of the old style, stain the wood darker and paint the walls white.
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 6:13PM
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PRO
A Crew of Two
Wallpaper...great way to add your own flair and maintain the integrity of the home. And I love that you can splurge and do something really cool.
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 7:07PM
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Michael Armstrong
mrytle,

I'm going against the majority of the people here. Though the staircase is nice and the paneling along the side is good feature, The whole of the staircase doesn't look 100% original to a 1920's home to me. As a simple search for staircases on here can show you, there are tons of options out there. Here's how I'd modernize the area;
- paint the risers (maybe even with a chevron or geometric pattern
- Replace the panel areas with doors or drawers beneath the stairs or even open shelving painted a rich deep contrasting color to your walls.(pending there isn't a reason to keep you from that such as another set of stairs).
- Paint the walls the walls with gray paint of similar intensity to the current wall color or go pure white.
- Refinish the flooring to match the stairs or even darker than the stairs.
- Replace the newel post with a more stylized version (similar to the ones judyg and Darzy posted)
- Replace the pickets with new style and pattern (again see judyg & Darzy's posts)

Of course this is all dependent upon budget and or your DIY skills.
0 Likes   January 15, 2013 at 11:20AM
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PRO
Granite Grannies
Definitely don't paint that beautiful wood. "Charm" is not about trendiness. It's about quality, thoughtfully designed and crafted elements of the home. I would painting the wall a brighter color (that taupe is a bit drab). Painting the wood itself would be a very permanent move. Use less permanent things to brighten and contemporize like a nice light in the hall, eye catching artwork on the stairway wall, and a cheerful runner in the hall.

If you try to completely modernize/ remove any traces of historic character from your home, you will be doing the home an injustice and will end up with a very disjointed look. You simply can't make a 1920's home look like it was just built. And that really is a benefit. You're home has quality that you just don't find any more. What you can do is carefully blend and balance modern and historic for a unique and stylish result. For instance, a modern light and modern artwork on the walls in the hall would contrast wonderfully against the historic "charm." Use modern furniture with clean, simple lines to set off the detailed craftmanship of the wood.

Most importantly, don't try to fit a style into the home that it is resisting. Work with your house, not against it. You wouldn't try to bulldoze a New England yard to install all tropical plants. It just wouldn't look right. But you could introduce elements in the form of yard furniture, a pond, or certain zone appropriate plants to suggest a tropical bent. It's the same with your home. When renovating and decorating historic homes, you must work with the history and location of the home if you want to get a truly magnificent end product.

Good Luck!
1 Like   January 15, 2013 at 11:31AM
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Carrie
I'm a "wood painter", but in this case, I think I'd go darker, say even black. You could try a dark linseed oil first to see if you like it. I do think the walls need to be repainted as well in a very pale, light grey. Add a floral stair runner in black and white and think it will be beautiful.
0 Likes   January 15, 2013 at 12:07PM
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treeg
Your stairs are beautiful. To give them a more up to date look, I would paint the wainscoting,rails, and risers an antique white (creamy white - not too bright not too yellow). I would also add wall panel wainscoting to the wall going up the stairs -- equal in height to the railing -- and paint it the same white to add some interest. Above the wall panel, I would paint the rest of the wall another color to give some contrast and depth.
0 Likes   January 15, 2013 at 12:27PM
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PRO
ShamikoDesign
Ok.. An inexpansive way is to have beautiful tile embossed sticker on the vertical side of the stairs to break the monotony of the wood. Won't spoil your wood.
The other option is to have a runner carpet on your stairs to give some Color.
0 Likes   January 15, 2013 at 5:00PM
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Eva Tuersley
Thank you Judy and granite for appreciating my bit of humour. I LOVE having FUN with redecorating. My house is 120 years old.
What a great forum to see how many of us are equally enthusiastic about keeping the integrity of fine workmanship intact.
0 Likes   January 15, 2013 at 8:34PM
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imaheartnurse
I absolutely would not change this stairway! For those who don't appreciate the magnificence of wood, there are plenty of homes with painted "wood work." If there needs to be more light let into the area, look for ways to add natural lighting. More use of mirrors on the walls to reflect light from windows; perhaps there is a wall in which a window could be placed to let in more light. If the wood does not fit your personality, perhaps you are in the wrong house.
0 Likes   August 14, 2013 at 11:30AM
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RosemaryR
Paint the spindles and risers.
0 Likes   August 14, 2013 at 11:54AM
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brickln
Paint the walls blue/gray and lay a runner. No paint on the staircase!
0 Likes   August 14, 2013 at 2:25PM
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