{renovate} back entry sources + a lesson

Thank you all for the sweet comments about our back entry! I loved reading each and am so glad you all liked it. I'm still pretty giddy about it, honestly. And, I never thought I'd be giddy about something like an updated back entry :). 

As I mentioned in the reveal, and in last week's week-by-week summary, our house made this project a little more difficult that it needs to be. The walls of our 1928 house are not perfectly straight. Nor is the room perfectly square, which made matching corners tricky. There was a lot of custom fitting happening here. That said, I'd originally wanted to give you all a tutorial, but under the circumstances, there was no way. But, if you love this look and want to give it a try yourself, Kate at the Centsational Girl gave an incredibly helpful tutorial here. It's what Chris read for basic guidelines before he got started.

So, instead of a tutorial, I thought I'd give you a list of sources + a quick in depth look at how we accomplished the stair makeover. Stairs, I learned, are incredibly tricky and we found a couple creative ways to work around the issues and still make the stairs beautiful.

Back entry sources:
Please let me know if I've forgotten anything, or if you have any questions.

And now, for the stairs. I already mentioned that I'd wanted to tear them up and rebuild so they were a two-toned work of art. You know, stain on the treads, paint on the risers. Something similar to this:
As I also told you though, stairs are tricky and this is the ONLY part of by grand plan that my contractors (you know, hubs + a friend :) said no to. Once they explained how much work and extra time it would take for only FOUR steps, I agreed. But, I still wanted the look. And, I might have still pouted a little. :)

Above is what we started with. The reason they look SO disgusting is because they were once covered with carpet. And, you can't see this by looking at them, but they were loose and squeaky.

So, the boys started by tearing the treads off and reinforcing the structure so the stairs are tight and no longer squeak. Huge improvement.

With that done, there was two main problems to tackle before we could paint. The risers were fuzzy and the treads were full of holes. First I tried to tackle the risers. When I say fuzzy, I really mean fuzzy. The dark areas in the picture above are glue that the carpet pad had stuck to at some point, which left a thin layer of fuzz. Also, each color you see above is also a different layer of paint. You can see on the right, where the yellow is, that I tried to scrape everything off to achieve a smooth surface. But that tiny little bit of scraping took about an hour and a half. I was so frustrated, and so close to tears.

Easier to tackle were the holes in the treads. See how big they are? Apparently the carpet and pad needed lots of screws and nails to stay in place! Wood putty became my new best friend during this hole project, but especially on the stairs. Not only did it beautifully hide all the holes, but I also used it to fill the scratches and create a smooth tread.

Here you can see Chris' amazing solution to my riser problem and the wood putty working it's magic on treads. Chris saw how frustrated I was with scraping and determined that even if I spent all the time scraping, it would never be perfectly smooth. And we wanted smooth. So he refaced the risers with a 3/4" plywood (same material as the walls). It worked out beautifully! And, saved us so much time.

Next was the super easy task of painting them. First I primed with an oil-based primer. I really dread using oil-based paint ... so messy! But, oil-based primer really does work best to protect bare wood, in my experience. And since these stairs get super heavy use, I wanted them well protected!

After priming, I painted the risers, then taped off the treads and painted them. I wanted to make sure we had a nice, clean line. We chose to paint, instead of stain, because of all the hole patch work they needed. It was just too much.We went with a deep gray because it really compliments and picks up on the colors in the tile.

The result? A two-toned stair that we LOVE. They are smooth and look brand new, even though we simply worked with what we had. 

If there is a lesson to take away from this friends, it's that there are many solutions to home improvement problems, and sometimes you just need to get creative. I hope seeing this encourages others -- especially those with older homes -- to take a chance and tackle a project that might seems too huge and impossible. There were are budget friendly and beautiful solutions around every corner.

So, any one out there have to put a *creative* spin on project lately? I'd love to hear about it!


  1. Whoa! Yall did an awesome job! I know it was hard work esp when things don't go as planned. But I too looooooooove the two toned look and this is just gorgeous!!!!! Big thumbs up from me over here!!!

  2. The stairs alone took my breath away... im off to check out the REVEAL that my dumbass missed b/c P stole my computer for house hunting yesterday!

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  3. Fabulous Jenn, an incredible transformation! Makes me want to get after my back hallway, I've been thinking of adding the board and batten...we'll see!

  4. wow.. this is just simply amazing, honestly, it looks like a whole different back entrance and it looks so cute, i love the color you pikced for the walls and the two toned stairs are just amazing, i cant describe it any other way. Here at home we want to make improvements too, because we honestly need them , but we have no idea what to do and where to start, since they are well quite big spaces, do you think you could give us any ideas if i show you photos?

    I would love it, if you visit my blog:


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