Introduction: Scary Stairwell to Playful Pathway

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I've been bugging the boy about this abomination. Now that we are utilizing the downstairs as a viable space for our hobbies and habitats, I felt it was imperative to spruce it up. The barrier to "sprucing " it up was a complete demo. I made a deal with him that if he and his worker boy tear everything down, I'd do all the sheetrocking, taping, painting, etc.


As you can see from the above pictures, this thing is scary. The previous owners obviously didn't give two schnitzels about aesthetics... or safety. Naturally, he was an Electrician.

: D

As we, I mean they, started the demo process of removing the old sheetrock, nastiness to the point of hilarious was unearthed. This stuff smelled... did they "store" cats in the attic above?... Off to the dump! "Good Riddance to bad Rubbish!"

Step 1: Sheetrock Angles

I realized why the boy didn't want to tackle this.

These were the materials and tools I had:

4 sheets of sheetrock

a box cutter

25' Fatmax

pencil & paper

empty garage for workspace

I did the ceiling first. Pretty straightforward, though needed help from the boy to hold up the sheetrock pieces while I screwed them into the joists above.

As a novice Rocker, I looked at the angled dimensions of the stairwell sides and thought, "Oh my, how shall I pull that off?"

As I took measurements of the height and width, and put everything down on paper, and compared to the size of sheetrock(4 x 8), I realized that I would need to do some piecing, that one piece of sheet rock was not tall and wide enough to create the triangle from. It occurred to me that I could lay 2 pieces side by side to make one huge square, and just draw my triangles that way.

That's what I did, and it worked great! I marked height and width, then drew the slope line first with the tape measure edge, then checked the line with a long sheetrock edge. I wrote exactly where each triangle went, and its orientation right on the rock, then cut everything out. I flipped everything over to create a mirror image for the other side of the stairwell. Again, needed help from the boy for holding everything while I fastened it.

I then taped and mudded all the seams , maybe two to three sessions of sanding and mudding, and then I was bored with that.

Step 2: Paint!

Lots of primer, on the ceiling, walls, and the stringers.

What a difference, compared to before!

I found some minty green paint that I liked, along with a dark terracotta color. Thought they'd look great together. All just leftover paints from previous projects.

Step 3: Some Creativity and Playfulness

I got inspired by a brilliant coffee table instructable, using 2 x 4's all joined and painted with gradations of greys. I wanted to do something like that with the stairs, but also didn't want them to make anyone dizzy and fall down the stairs, rather than stepping down them.

I looked at what I had available for floor paint and discovered I just had one choice; a basic tan/cream color. Hmmm, maybe I can transition from that to some variant of orange, using the stuff I painted on the lower wall and stringers. That makes sense, right?

The plan was simple enough: Paint one stair from the starting batch, then add a certain amount, the same each time, for each additional stair. It was fun at first, being thorough with the mixing, paying mind to the brush, stirrer, any drips, etc.

For the paint ratio, I started with about a half gallon of the cream floor paint, and added about 2 oz of the dark orange. The first transition for the second stair was quite obvious, each additional treatment a little less so. The first 5 stairs had to also be painted underneath, the second five it wasn't necessary. This meant less paint was used and hence each addition of the 2 oz of orange probably had less effect of the overall paint ratio as the initial stair transitions, but hard to notice. For the most part there was an obvious and calming transition to the stair below(this may not be as obvious in the photos).

Step 4: Beer!

At this point, it wasn't as much fun anymore, being really tedious with all the mixing and stuff. Plus, I was getting hungry.

My eyes drifted over to the keg of Smuttynose IPA. A little deliciousness to take away the growls and tedium... What a great idea!!

It made the remaining stairs a joyful job.

(I probably had two, servings of, not stairs left.)

: )

I decided I didn't want to look at the ugly view behind the stairs every time I went up them, so stapled a length of burlap to the underneath. Gave a nice backdrop, while hiding what was behind. Easy!

Step 5: Trimwork

Where the sheetrock met some rough lumber, I decided to add some wood trim, then cover with a narrow draping of more burlap. Ooh, tying it all together! :D

A puzzle! This matches great, and coincidentally covers that not-so-stellar taping seam.

Step 6: Extra Touches for More Playfulness

The orange wall looked unfinished and so I decided to give it a texture to tie it into the burlap. I just used the bottom of an old broom, some tan paint, and made some crosshatching effects. Quick and easy.


I made this as a nod to all the stuff that happens in the basement.

I'm not sure if it qualifies as art. Maybe a step up from the puzzle, but not much.

It's cute, though, and kinda interactive, and might make more sense as you see the map in Step 8.

Or not.

Step 7: Gold Tips, and Something to Hold Onto

After many years of work boots and who knows what else gong up and down the stairs, the stair edges were rounded from wear. I thought this made it kinda unsafe if you were going down the stairs at a pretty good clip. Not quite as unsafe as the handrail which was dangling there on 1.5 brackets.

So the boy fixed both of those issues by installing brass noses on the stairs and hanging the railing a bit more solidly.


: D

Step 8: Map

I thought it would be fun to make and hang a map of all the rooms in the basement.

More burlap!

And some final pictures of the end project.

Scary stairwell to playful pathway, indeed.

Huge improvement.

Please vote if you think so too.

: )

Before and After Contest 2016

Participated in the
Before and After Contest 2016