before & after: helen’s stairs

i hope that one day when we move into a real house we have a stair case of some sort- nothing too fancy, just something that lets me decorate the stairs like this makeover from d*s reader helen. helen has done some amazing before & after work that you can see on her site, but today she’s sharing a simple stair case makeover. i love the way wallpaper cheers up a room and this is no exception. thanks to helen for sharing her work with us. [click here, here and here for more wallpaper makeover ideas from lauren and derek]

[have a before & after you’d like to share on d*s? just shoot me an email right here with your images!]


  1. Elyse says:

    Cool! What a great improvement! =)

  2. I love it! I really love the hardwoods, the cool door at the top of the stairs, and the splash of color the stairs make now.

  3. FinderMaker says:

    Wow! What a nice transformation…. I’d love to see more before and afters as work on this home progresses!

  4. mvo168 says:

    very orla kiely-ish!

  5. So fun! I want to transform our stairs…now I’m all the more inspired.

  6. Dee says:

    I love these before and after posts and this is an amazing transformation.

  7. Ed says:

    saw this on Living etc , an amazing job , just love it

  8. Lori Danelle says:

    makes me want to rip out my carpet and get out the paint brush! Just lovely!

  9. Shelley says:

    Wow! Those stairs are amazing! I never would have thought to do something like that!

  10. abby says:

    love it! beautiful and clean and mesmerizing . . .

  11. Caroline says:

    It’s much fresher! I’d worry about the Orla Kiely print’s trendiness though…

  12. Alexis says:

    Love those stairs!!!

    I dream of ripping up the carpet on mine, but there is no wood underneath — when the time comes it will be a costly project.

  13. tracy says:

    wow- this looks incredible! totally works so much better. a whole new look and feel…i LOVE it!!! :D thank you so much for sharing & inspiring!

  14. Carrie says:

    The stairs look great and Helen did an amazing job on this project, she should be very proud of her efforts!
    I would like to remark on the frequency with which the before & afters on this website have used people covering furniture, etc with wallpaper and often this exact Orla Kiley wallpaper pattern.
    As a design sponge fan, I would like to challenge the bloggers to feature before & afters that really push the envelope as the amount of wallpaper projects/painting and reupholstering chairs in splashy prints featured on the site are beginning to feel a bit repetitive.
    Case in point, the dresser/commode turned sink featured today, an impressive project with a surprising twist. Please keep more like this coming!

    1. grace says:


      i’m happy to post them if you guys send them. we can only post what gets sent in.

      we do outreach on a regular basis but right now we’re getting a whole lot of orla and wallpaper and fabric makeovers. the pattern thing is still dominating the entries we get.


  15. britt says:

    i never comment on these makeover projects but always love them. this one blew me away. the vision! so inspiring.
    i love bold design moves.

  16. Victoria says:

    Hi there…love your stairs…but I noticed that you changed your lovely pattern 10 glass doors… do you still have them? would you sell them?…

  17. donna says:

    paint the banister gloss black. it would look awesome.

  18. Ali says:

    We just ripped up the carpet on the stairs of our new house on Tuesday. I don’t know my stair lingo, but the part painted white in the “after” is in relatively good shape whereas the part wallpapered is in really, really bad shape. So something like this might be a great, relatively cheap fix. I agree with Caroline’s post that this type of wallpaper would be too trendy for me. Does anyone have any ideas on what other types of patterns would look good? We haven’t painted the hallway yet, but are thinking of doing some variation of beige. Thanks!

  19. onegrandhome says:

    Hi Ali,

    I think a nice chevron print would be really beautiful and not too trendy, hearkening back to the sort of lovely herringbone flooring so few of us are lucky enough to have (see an example of a pattern here: )

    If you are considering something floral but not girly, you could render this rug pattern in freehand:

    And I also think there is a case for simplicity–in the right colors, a simple stripe motif could look awesome and timeless.

  20. Lillian says:

    Totally great! Wonder how my stairs would look with wallpaper… hmm.

  21. Sarah says:

    I did this at my last apartment. It ended up being one of my favourite things about the place.

  22. Lisa says:

    I can imagine all the hard work that went into that project.. good work and it turned out terrific!

  23. 315thomas says:

    oh, i just adore this! it really brightens up the space. i would smile every time i walked up those steps.

  24. Whoa, my jaw is on the floor. That is so gorgeous. Those butterfly steps…and the before picture looked so jacked up!

    Standing ovation!

  25. Wow, these are some lovely makeovers, thank you!

  26. Jennifer says:

    I think the print used looks out of place, I think if a flourish design in the same color was used, it would match the style of the house better.

  27. kate Endle says:

    HOLY MOLY! Those stairs are a real stunner. That’s a lot of work! Nice job.

  28. beth says:

    This is incredible. But how do you prevent the white stairs from getting dirty/dingy?

  29. noodle says:

    If i opened my front door each day to be greeted by those wonderful stairs i would forever be smiling! I know lots of wallpapers covered items are being featured but this use of paper is so creative and really make me wish i’d waited before buying carpet. well done Helen- they are fab!

  30. Matilde says:

    I love the idea and even the execution, but like others have already remarked, I worry that Orla Keily prints are going to look dated in a very short time. The very mod print also clashes a bit with the older architecture. But I think this would look truly fantastic with a more classic print.

  31. Sara says:

    Love the look…but did I miss the how-to? I am wondering if the paper is covered in something to protect it. Otherwise, I could see it getting dirty and torn. The risers on my stairs are very marked up from shoes and although I think this would be a great way to make them pop, I worry about the durability. Would a coat of lacquer over the paper work?

  32. wow- gives an already great entrance a big punch of color and style!

  33. those stairs are impressive. the pattern works so well, what a smart solution!

  34. Kerry says:

    I love those stairs!!!!

  35. Shelley says:

    The stairs are so cute now, such an improvement. The pattern is a matter of personal taste (I think it’s fun) & could go in many different directions. Very cute!

  36. tasha says:

    I’m not really an Orla Kiely fan, but this is totally fun!

  37. JunkerJane says:

    I LOVE these stairs! The best staircase makeover ever!

  38. Valerie says:

    Gorgeous design for the stairs. So striking and what a fun design element.


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