foyer & staircase plans

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Decorating, My House, Room Makeovers48 Comments

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been focusing my home improvement efforts on the main floor of our home over our first year here.  I’ve done a little bit of painting in the basement and worked on the master bedroom (mostly because of our collaboration with Sleep Number), but aside from that, our money, time, and elbow grease have been focused on where we live the most… the kitchen, kitchen eating area, living room, dining room, my office and studio, and soon we’ll be turning our attention to the space that connects it all – the foyer (which also includes the stairs and half bath.)

I assure you, my house is not decorated for Christmas!  This is from last December and it’s just the best picture I had of the foyer through the front door!

Yes.  It’s too soon.

Anyway, here is what it looks like without the garland (that was beautiful for about 30 seconds and then shed worse than an entire herd of long-haired cats)…

Anyway, before I share our plans, let me point out what I love about this space.  I love that it has amazing light and a beautiful focal point in those stairs.  I have always wanted Gone-with-the-Wind-type stairs (you know what I mean) and this house gave me that.  This house also has a “back staircase”, which I’ve always wanted as well.  It’s not really an entirely separate staircase, but the main staircase splits halfway down and one side goes to the foyer and the other to the kitchen.

I also like that the central staircase gives the house a classic feel, which is what I wanted in a newer home.

Now, let’s get into the plans.  The first thing that’s going to make the biggest difference is paint.  Of course, paint!  Right now, everything is the same pinky-off-white as the rest of the house was (and about half of it still is).   Painting the walls, trim, doors, and stair spindles will bring some definition and tie the space into all of the other rooms much better.

I am getting a quote next week to figure out what portion we’re hiring out and what portion I’ll be painting myself.  The bare minimum we’ll hire out is the “two story” walls that are about 19′ high.  There is also a window on one of those walls, above the front door, about 15′ up, that needs to be painted.

The works would be hiring the crew to paint the entire foyer area, including the upstairs hall walls, trim, and doors, along with the stair spindles and all of the foyer’s walls, trim, and doors.  We can also go somewhere in the middle of those two options.  We’re going to get three quotes to see what will be the best way to go.

The walls will be painted in 50% Stonington Gray (same as the kitchen, eating area, and my office), the trim in the custom bright white I’m using through the rest of the house, and the doors will be Coventry Gray.  (All Benjamin Moore)  Matte on the walls, satin on the doors and trim.

While the crew is painting the two-story walls, they will also change out our chandelier.  The one that is currently hanging is nice, but just not my style.  (And it has really orange light bulbs currently, so we don’t ever turn it on.)

We are hoping to replace it with the antique chandelier from my Opa’s house…

It is a gorgeous piece and I’m so excited to finally have a place to hang it.  It was originally a gas fixture, but was rewired to be electric.  The chandelier was made for a pretty high ceiling originally, so when it was hanging in my Opa’s house, a couple of the tiers were removed.  My dad and I are going to work on rewiring it and reassembling it with all of the tiers, so it fills the two-story space nicely.  It will be a little smaller than the current fixture, but I still think (and hope) that the scale will work.

There are still some details to figure out to make sure it’s doable.  I can see a few places we might get hung up, but that is the plan for now.

I am also waiting for a quote on getting the tile in the foyer redone.  I am thinking something along the lines of slate.  Just very classic and the dark blue/gray tone will work well with everything else going on.  When we do the tile, that will also include the half bath and I’ll give that space a makeover while everything is removed for the tiling.  It doesn’t make much sense to do anything in there until that happens.

As far as the staircase, I shared my detailed plans and inspiration pictures HERE.  In a nutshell, I wanted to remove the carpet, paint the wood and install a runner.

I even purchased the runners for the job and planned to have the project completed by now…

But, there is an issue…

I started removing the carpet from a small section that the former owner’s cat made a snack of and, much to my dismay, the treads are particle board!  Noooooo!  I could work with just about anything but particle board.  It’s crumbly and rough and just won’t paint up well.

So, we are going to have to replace the treads with solid wood  treads.  It would be simple enough, but there is a return on each tread on the staircase in the foyer, so we have to find a tread that will match the profile on the solid wood return piece.  (See the wood under the spindles at the edge of each step in the picture below?)  If we can find a match, then it’s just a matter of filling in the seam, sanding, and painting, and no one will know that it’s not one solid piece of wood.

Are you following me?

The next step (no pun intended) is to pick up a pine tread from Home Depot and hope that will be a match.  If not, well, let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.  A part of me wants to just rip up the carpet and figure it out as we go, but I decided to be a bit more reasonable than that!

So, those are the plans so far.  Paint, chandelier, tile, and hopefully we’ll get the steps figured out. Down the road, I’d like to add more trim, but I think that will be one of the last things we do.  That kind of finishing touch is the decoration on the icing on the cake.

The painting is scheduled to happen mid-late September and I’ll keep you posted on what option we go with.  If it’s the bare-bones option, you’ll find me painting bannisters, trim, and doors for the better part of autumn!  At least I like to paint…

foyer & staircase plans

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48 Comments on “foyer & staircase plans”

  1. I’m so excited that you’re sharing your reno plans with us. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was all magically finished when you return from your trip to Paris and Italy? Ha! I’d loan you my magic wand but it’s in the shop for repairs! Actually painting bannisters isn’t bad; you get to sit and it’s pretty monotonous work that allows your mind to wander… maybe to other projects? My brother had natural slate flooring in his home and he loved it. It looked both classic and modern at the same time. It was easy to clean and definitely had a major WOW factor. So I can’t wait until all the work is done and we’re treated to the big reveal. Is that your Opa’s home showing the chandelier? How pretty! And that corner hutch looks to you. I love using things my parents and grandparents owned and loved; it’s a special way of keeping them close in my heart.

  2. Marion, it all sounds like a lovely plan. Have you considered offering artwork in trade for someone painting your foyer? I would bet you could find a person who would love a mural like yours or a collection of your smaller pieces. One of my artist friends had giant trees removed from her yard in trade for her original art work….a multi-thousand dollar job.

  3. Marion, I would never question your plans, as you obviously have beautiful taste!!! However, you might want to “think twice” about the slate. It is typically, cold, dark and noisy. Also, the sealant they typically use on slate might be a bit shiny for your taste 🤔. That’s just my two cent opinion, which clearly is worth exactly that!! I’m sure if you proceed with the slate, it will be just fine.

    1. There are a lot of great slate look-alikes that are much easier to maintain and clean. (In my experience, guests tracking in salt during snowy, slushy winters is not good on slate.)

  4. We had the same issue with our stair treads. I found treads with returns already on them at Menard’s, and I’m sure Lowe’s or Home Depot has them, or has the option to order them. We stained and varnished the treads, but painted the risers white and then put a runner down. It really turned out beautifully. I absolutely adore that chandelier!

    1. Yes, I’ve seen that product and it would be amazing, but I don’t think it would work with our return pieces. It’s a bummer, because that would be so much easier!

  5. I like all the plans you have for this area. I almost knew without you confirming it that particle board was under the carpeted steps. Builders do this to cut costs! As far as the chandelier is concerned I would “save” the old one so years down the road if you sell your home and not want that chandelier to go with the house you have the old one to put back up.

    I don’t blame you for not wanting to paint those high ceilings. Its a job and not easy getting up on ladders especially if you don’t like heights.

    1. That’s a good idea to save the old chandelier! And yes, I do not do ladders over 6′. I fell off an 8′ ladder a few years ago and it was a scary experience. I’m game for painting just about anything, but not that high!

  6. I love that you are doing easy, reasonable reno work that most people can do and/or understand. A lot of houses don’t need to be gutted, etc., and these more “cosmetic” renovations are the way to go. Hire out what you can’t do, do the stuff you can yourself to save money, and not involve months or years of living in a messy fixer-upper and/or exposing your family to dangerous toxins. There is a lot to be said for living in a modern, suburban home, and you have already shown that they can be stylishly upgraded to any theme.

    1. Yes, that’s exactly why we bought this house. There is plenty of room for cosmetic improvements and customizations, but it has a great layout and bones and we can focus on making it our style.

  7. Hi Marian, I’ve been enjoying watching the progress in your home. We used this product: to replace the particle board stair treads in our old home. It was a very simple process. They also sell risers for either paint or stain. We chose to use their primed product, paint the risers white, and then stained the treads to match the hardwood floors in our home. My husband used a jigsaw to cut the “lip” off of the stairs and then we nailed the new risers on, filled nail holes, touched up the paint, and then he installed the stained and poly-ed “retro tread”. The staircase looked amazing when we were done. This option was very DIY friendly. It is probably not the cheapest option, but it looked great when we were done.

    1. Yes! Some other readers told me about that product and it would be awesome, but it won’t work with those returns! That is what makes the stairs tricky (but also really pretty!).

  8. We have natural slate tile in our entryway & adjoining kitchen, I absolutely love it! I’m a firm believer in heavy duty, even commercial flooring in homes. Our homes get so much wear & tear over the years, why spend time & money on less expensive, fake slate-look tile that will have to be replaced in 10 years. Go that extra mile & dollar to have it last a lifetime. Skate is a classic. If the sheen of the sealer is too shiney , you can use a low lustre sealer or know that the shininess will dull over time & need to be resealed again every year or two.

  9. We have had slate in our lawn paths for over 18 years -indestructible and power washes off easily. It is matte sealed. I love the antique chandy and think it will look great. Too bad about the stair treads- you will find something.

  10. I love that you have planned out the Reno so well … It’s sure to save you money.

    -Do you intend to paint the handrails?

    -What is the room with the glass door, next to the half bath?

    You are doing a great job of demonstrating to all of us that, if you proceed thoughtfully and have a plan, you can put your one-of-a-kind stamp on even a generic suburban Home without emptying your ank account.

    1. Thank you! Yes, I’m trying to put my money where it counts and save where I can! I’m not sure about painting the handrails, yet, but that is a possibility. I’m going to wait until everything else is painted and then I’ll decide.

      The room with the glass doors is my office.

  11. The bull nose edge on the pine (or oak at twice the price) HD stair treads should match, but you will need that extra bit of trim underneath – that look like it could actually be a separate piece of trim?

    1. I am hoping so! It is actually an extra piece of trim, but I think it’s a pretty common profile and I should be able to find something close to it, if not an exact match. If I can’t, I can just replace the entire piece of trim. It will be tedious, but completely doable.

  12. Have you considered painting or staining the handrails? It would look so much more like your style. There isn’t any other natural oak left for the handrail to connect with.

    I’ve long thought that if I had a new two-storey house I’d replace the slender spindles they use now with something more substantial.

    1. The handrails actually match the wood floor in the kitchen, dining room, and office, but I agree that they might look better painted. I’m going to reserve that decision until the rest of the painting is done and then I’ll decide.

  13. Your chandelier from your Opa is beautiful. I would rethink the slate. Is their anyway of continuing the hardwood in that area? I can see tile in the powder room but even in there since it isn’t a shower or bath I would do the wood floors. Continuing the flooring just makes rooms flow and look bigger. You’ve done more in your year than I’ve done in 20. You are rocking!

  14. Beautiful plans, Marian! We have carpet on our stairs and plywood underneath. I was was wanting to replace carpet with a runner, but redoing the stairs in wood more than I wanted to invest. When I see yours finished I’ll probably change my mind!

  15. I’m so looking forward to seeing this together! I love your step by step approach ,roflol !

  16. Hello, have you considered adding a finial to the newell post? It would be fun to shop for one at the salvage yard. I’m sure enjoying the posts.

  17. Hi Marian, I bet the little bobeche type parts on your chandelier is probably making the orange glow. You could take them off to see if it makes a difference; especially if the scale of the old chandelier does not work. Just my thoughts!

  18. Marion,
    I love your plans for this area, and am astounded at the amount you get accomplished!
    Several years ago, I had a wooden piece made to put on the stairs (and make them level) so that I could put a ladder on it and paint the walls in a two story stairway. I could not quite reach the top with a brush for doing the trim, so I taped my brush onto my pole extender and it worked beautifully. You have probably done similar things, but thought I’d mention it in case you haven’t tried this particular one.

  19. Hello Marian!
    Your projects for your new home are captivating! I wish I could just jump on over and help you hang the outrageously gorgeous chandelier from your Opa or maybe give you a hand with your carpet runner for the stairs! I’ve never worked with tile before but I imagine I’d catch right on! Painting and I are a team! I’m not too crazy about ladders but we could figure something out! Who knows?

    You are truly blessed, Marian! You obviously have the energy and enthusiasm to accomplish everything you set your mind to do, Because my health is not what I would like it to be, my energy is no more so I’m afraid would not be of any help at all.😞 Steroids, to treat Severe Addison’s Disease, have taken their toll on me and I’m not the energetic, get er’ done Gal I use to be. However, that does not mean I can’t do a little enthusiastic decorating and patient organizing! I’m following your blog and having such fun with all of your lovely ideas! You are a one of a kind, lovely, dear, talented Lady and I am grateful to have found you! I receive everything you send out, now, and you have lifted a bit of sadness from my days. Thank you for just being you! Blessings, Lucy!

  20. Marian,

    Slate is beautiful and a matte sealant would work. Just a caution though: when you get your slate tile and find a sealer, test in a small spot with the sealer to make sure it won’t turn the slate a different or darker color. Because it’s natural stone, it’s porous. Not as porous as travertine but will still soak it up and it may change the color a bit or a lot.

  21. I’m so glad I found your Blog! I love milk paint and chippy furniture. Your home is amazing and I love every single thing you’ve done so far. It’s so much fun getting to see you decorate it! I vote NO on painting the handrails. I think it makes it lookl less expensive. Just my opinion but hey paint away, to each his own! 😁. Can’t wait to see how you solve the “risers” dilemma.

    1. dash and albert – marian posted the link in an earlier post reply above
      you may want to read the reviews, though, as I was looking at this exact rug, and after reading them I’ve changed my mind

  22. Hi from the area of the U.S. called Slate Valley! What I have learned since moving here is that there is a range of quality in slate. For example, some people complain of water rings on their slate countertops not realizing that this is an indication of inferior slate. I hope this information helps.

    Here is a dilemma I have: Where does one start? If you start with the painting isn’t that likely to get beaten up while the floor is being replaced? Would you please give me a “timeline” of sorts to show in what order you attack a project like this?

    Many thanks! ~PJ

  23. Hi Marian,
    I’ve replaced my stair treads and risers my self. It’s not that hard…. riser first, then the tread… repeat! If you can do the work in the laundry room, you and your hubby can do it with no problem. Good luck. I removed my carpet and left them bare – but they are slick so I’ve learned to be very careful!! 🙂

  24. Love the plan! Can’t wait to see your progress. You have inspired me so much that I am going to paint my kitchen table base and chairs boxwood green! Love your style

  25. In case anyone is interested, that chandelier originally came from an old Virginia home on Rivermont Avenue in Lynchburg, VA from the early 20th century before electricity was a viable option. It moved to a couple of elite homes in Petersburg, VA in the mid-century and came to our family when Marian’s grandparents passed away. So it’s got a LOT of history both in the family and in Americana. We’re hoping to restore it to it’s Westover-level grandeur now that there’s a big venue for it to appear in. I for one can’t wait to see what Marian does with this piece of our family lore.

    1. Wow, that IS a lot of history…that chandelier has really gotten around. If only it could talk! I love that she is using it in her home.

  26. Gretchen
    I just found your blog & enjoy seeing all you have done. Your style is beautiful! Do you have a place on your website where you give tips on arranging framed pictures as you have done in your stairway?

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