Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Paint With Stain: Staircase Landing Makeover

 My Husband and I decided it was time to take the sorry looking carpet off of the stairs to do a staircase makeover. The full makeover will come in a future blog post, so keep an eye out for it!

When we painstakingly ripped, pulled, strained, and blistered our hands removing the overly stapled carpet, we came to the landing and were greatly disappointed.
I was thinking the wood under the carpet on the landing would be planked like the floor in the foyer at the base of the stairs, but it wasn't. Instead, the landing was a solid sheet of oak that resembled plywood...not my cup-o-tea at all. Here's what it looked like:

 See what I mean? Not really my thing. Being the optimist that I am, I just pushed the landing issue aside to continue assisting my Husband pull the carpet off the rest of the stairs, which was really really hard to do! He did 90% of it.

I figured I could come up with something to overcome the issue...maybe paint a compass on it? Maybe create some trim with stain? From there, the possible solutions began to come in and out as I worked.

A couple hours later, I thought maybe I could paint a rose on the landing in stain! That idea stuck. Within 20 minutes, I was collecting my supplies to get started.

 I don't have pictures of every step, unfortunately. The Mr. took on kid duty so I could dive in completely, as I treated this like I would one of my paintings. I even listened to a song on repeat that helped inspire me. The song was Caught A Long Wind by Feist (Lexer's Little Bird remake), just in case you were curious :)

Let's get started!

1) The Mr. took a palm sander to the entire surface of the landing for me. He took the shine off completely.

2) Next, I washed the landing with a sponge and warm water until all the dust was gone, and waited for it to dry.

3) After looking at some pics of roses online for reference, I got started drawing my version out in pencil.

4) Once I had the entire rose drawn in pencil, I took a small paintbrush and Varathane Kona wood stain to begin "painting" in the petals.

5) Using a 1/2 inch flat paintbrush similar to the one in the photo below, I went over the outline of a petal with a thin, but well saturated line of stain. Slowly, I blended it out with the brush, away from the petal to create a shadow.

Some areas of the petals would be darker than others depending on how I wanted the petal to appear (curved, bent, behind another petal's shadow, etc.). This is where it might be helpful to have some experience with shading and light/shadows.

I allowed some thick areas of stain to remain where I wanted it to be really dark. After this, I moved on to start another petal, then went back again to blend the first petal out further. It was a process of back and forth; start a petal, go back to the one before, and so on. The longer the stain sits on the wood, the darker it will be, so blending and shading out in stages will give a nice gradient effect. Where I wanted the wood to be lightest, I didn't put any stain on it at all.

Nearly filled in, but with some shading left to do:
 After more shading done:

 6) Once the rose was the way I liked it, I signed my name in a camouflaged spot and allowed the entire thing to dry completely. Fans and good ventilation were helpful.

7) Next, I wiped on a coat of Minwax fast-drying polyurethane (gloss) with a rag to protect it.

  8) When the polyurethane dried (fast!), I discovered it lost some depth. Some lighter spots appeared darker than they did without the poly: to remedy this, I sanded all of the areas I wanted to be lighter, using the sandpaper sort of like an eraser in pencil drawings. I ONLY sanded the spots I wanted lighter.

9) The landing got another wipe-down to clean off any dust from sanding.

10) Once completely dry, I applied another two full coats of polyurethane allowing it to dry between coats. Fans and ventilation were helpful again.

Here is the finished product! Don't mind the spindles, wainscoting, and whatnot changing throughout these pics; we did this at the same time as the staircase makeover. I will be posting all of those before and after pics soon!

Like the dark spindles and faux wainscoting? Staircase makeover tutorial coming soon!

Don't mind the weird stain patterns on the stairs from the carpet, we hadn't re-stained the steps yet.

  I'd say that's much better than the plain solid sheet of oak! What do you think?

Until next time...create away!


  1. So pretty - Even prettier in person! Great job Rachel!

  2. the landing is beautiful! did you ever do the post about the staircase.

  3. oops missed adding my notification.

  4. What a delightful and elegant way to change a rather over looked common area!Thanks for posting this! Suzanne

  5. I am just now seeing this -- several years after you created it. You are very clever! It looks great!