before and after

before & after: painted stairs + card catalog transformation

by Kate Pruitt


I’ve seen many clever stairway renovations lately, where the owners have chosen to showcase the stairs and turn them into a focal point. I’ve decided this is the way to go — why not make stairs a work of art? Aleksandra’s exposed industrial staircase from last week is one example, and here’s a totally opposite but equally wonderful option: these ombre painted risers by Melissa and Caleb. For the cost of a few sample-sized paints, the couple transformed a set of cruddy carpeted steps into a gorgeous graduated sunset. The bold choice pairs perfectly with the crisp white walls, and I love that they painted just the risers and opted for natural wood on the steps; it keeps the whole look sophisticated.

Not ones to rest at a single success, Melissa and Caleb also transformed an old card catalog into a beautiful work desk in the adjoining room. I think they made a wise choice to break up the bulky piece in two parts, and after clearing out the bees living inside (yikes), they simply refinished the drawers, added custom labels and finished it off with a solid wood top for a work surface. You can see more details of both projects below. Wonderful work, Melissa and Caleb! Kate

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Read the full post after the jump . . .


Time: 10 hours

Cost: $20 for sample-size paints

Basic Steps: The stairs were originally carpeted, and when Caleb removed it, he found a mess of treads that overhung their risers. He decided that the best solution was to install new pine treads and risers over the original, shimming the new risers to cover the original riser and treads. He started at the top of the staircase, installing one riser and tread as he worked his way down to ensure a proper fit. He finished the treads with tung oil to match our new pine floor.

Originally he painted the risers white to match the walls, but after spotting a gradient paint sample at Lowe’s, I got the idea for gradient pink risers! (I’m sure being constantly bombarded by ombre dresses on Pinterest didn’t hurt). Lowe’s offers sample sizes of their paint colors, which made it a really cost effective way to use five paint colors for the project. We used Behr flat paint, which Caleb quickly pointed out would get easily nicked and smudged. His solution was to use a separate, clear acrylic finish to protect them. — Melissa

Sources: Behr paint kin Silk Sheets, Rose Sorbet, Mixed Fruit, Cherry and Firecracker


Time: 12 hours

Cost: $200

Basic Steps: We were downsizing and certainly didn’t need additional furniture, but being bookworms, we were both reluctant to part with the card catalog. I was in desperate need of a desk in the living room, and inspiration struck mere hours before we were getting ready to sell the piece. We would turn the behemoth into my desk!

The first order of business was to scare off the family of bees that had taken up residence inside the catalog. Caleb removed all of the drawers and cut the catalog into two sections, making the cut about two-thirds of the way to the top, just above the slideout trays that were initially used to copy information from the library cards. He sanded down the rough edges and removed the top. Next he attached the top to the lower section, using a little extra blocking so that he had something to attach it to.

The bottom of the lower section of the catalog was just empty space, so he was able to turn it into storage, which was critical in our smaller home. He removed the front panel and then cut it down to size so that it could be used a drawer face. The two sections of the card catalog and the new drawer face were painted white. He built a new drawer box, attached the new drawer face and installed the drawer using full extension drawer slides to get the most space out of the new drawer. For the finishing touch, he used some reclaimed barn wood for the desk top and matching shelves mounted on the wall above the catalog. — Melissa

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