How We Transformed Our Basement Stairs With a Fresh Coat of Paint

Interiors & Decor

White-Painted Stairs
Here’s what the white-painted stairs look like now.

Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Just kidding, because that’s the opposite mentality I want to take when it comes to any home project I’m not feeling excited about or committed to completing. It was a very busy winter and an even busier spring, and now that I’m used to this new pace of life, I’m starting to tackle projects around the house again.

We’ve been painting the basement in chunks due to the sheer size of the project. This month we tackled the staircase that connects the basement to the rest of the house.

I’m sharing the first photos of our white-painted stairs and what’s next for our basement design project.

A before shot from the same angle as the photo above

Why We Decided to Paint the Woodwork on the Stairs

To be honest, this staircase felt sad and depressing in its dark state! After painting the entire basement family room this winter, I knew I wanted to paint the stairs and the adjacent wine room as well. The goal is to brighten these areas and visually tie them in with the rest of the basement.

White-Painted Stairs
How the painted stairs tie in with the basement family room
A before shot from a similar angle as the photo above

What the Process Entailed

We hired someone to remove the stair runner and paint the woodwork on the stairs. The paint color is the same one we used on the trim, wainscoting, and beams in the basement family room: White Dove by Benjamin Moore. The process entailed using copious amounts of Goo Gone to remove the adhesive underneath the stair runner, sanding, priming, and painting.

It taught me the lesson of hiring people who know how to properly install things. It took about four days of work to get the stairs ready for painting, mostly because of the time it took to clean up the stairs after removing the runner. UGH! But we made it and I’m glad we took the time to get the stair treads looking good. 

White-Painted Stairs
Looking at the white-painted stairs from the upstairs landing

What I Think of the Results

It looks like an entirely different stairwell!!! The change of paint alone made the ceilings feel higher and the stairway feel wider. Overall it just feels really fresh. I cannot wait to finish painting the rest of the basement. 

The intersection of the stairs, family room, wine room, and kitchenette

What’s Next for the Basement Design Project

More will be happening in the basement this spring and summer! Here is a list of the updates to come:

  • Install wallpaper at the top of the stairwell (shown below). The stairs open up right into the kitchen dining area, entrance hallway from the garage, guest bathroom, and Birdie’s room (formerly the guest room). The wallpaper I select will need to complement the design elements in all of these spaces.
  • Add a new light fixture at the top of the stairs. 
  • Install a new stair runner.
  • Install a new handrail. 
  • Bring some new furniture pieces and rugs into the basement family room.
  • Update the wine room (see more of this room in this post). We will do a limewash finish or paint the brick, update the light fixtures, and update the plumbing.
These walls are where we’ll be installing wallpaper this spring/summer.

My overall vision for the design of the basement family room is definitely more modern and minimal than the design of the rest of our home. I’ll be layering decor elements a lot less and playing a lot more with furniture shapes and material textures. Stay tuned for more updates!

BY Kate Arends - May 15, 2023

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Kathleen Nelson
May 16, 2023 9:17 am

How do you keep the white stairs clean?

Karen Noftsier
June 17, 2023 4:14 am

I don’t believe you Painted over all that wood! It is possible to make wood stairs and other areas bright and fresh again. You just have to think about what products are available. If I moved into that house and I found out there was natural wood under there, you bet I would be stripping it all off!

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