Back Stair, Continued.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

So tired of the back stair looking like poop, beat up walls with spattered coffee and dog dirt smears, I finally did something about it.  A bit of scrap wood and some paint, some lickety-split DIY spirit (eh maybe not lickety-split) and it's on its way.

Sometimes ideas come at me quick like cutting holes in walls or, umm... Surely there's something else.

Often times, I have to stand and stare and stare and come back a few months later and stare some more and stare before an idea pops.  Like the laundry room or the hall bath, or umm, most things. 

Ya know which is fine really because interior design and/or decor shouldn't be rushed.  I get it though -- let's do it up and fast!  Gimme those results right now!  Throw some paint and stuff at it, hope it sticks!

It's not often that works out, for me anyway.  I end up wondering what the hell I was thinking and then redoing it.  

Ideally give your space time, see how it functions, see how you function in it, note the light during the day, during the evening, and at night and go from there.

Well I am off track.

Point being I guess, this one took me a looong time and that’s a-okay.  (Sorta.)

So I was sick of the back stair looking like utter sh*t and considering I use it multiple times daily, it was a constant nerve-grater which made me bonkers.

back stair messy before
Before.  Ooooophhff.  Embarrassing.
We've been here, what, seven and a half years now (uhhh how did that happen?) so one day I forced myself to sit there and stare at it.  All of a sudden, a plan bum-rushed my brain.  Finally.   

I had done stuff in the meantime.  I stuck those wood-look vinyl peel and stick floor tiles to the stairs.  Those have been fussy.  While it's visually nice and holding up, I've had to glue a couple spots since.  Still, I'd do that project again.

Too, I poured that skim coat concrete over the tile floor at the base of the stair and that has worked out quite well.  Holding up like a champ.

Oh, and fashioned that handrail which I very much enjoy.  And that last door closer I installed has been pleasantly, totally hassle-free.  Whooo!

Now, now it was time to bedazzle the thing up.

The main focal point in this very tall yet small space is the big blank wall over the back door.  Big.  Blank.  And boring.

Too, this space is exactly case in point why white paint does not work everywhere or always lighten up a small dark area.  This zero light space always looked run-down, drab, dreary, and pathetically sad in major part because of the white paint.  White requires natural light. 

This is where an impulse buy didn’t entirely pan out but I’m not too mad:  the paint color.  Menards has a new line of paint by Zinsser, SmartCoat, so I thought I’d try it.  They have specific colors, you can’t match which I didn’t know so I had to decide in store as at the time, no to-go swatches were available. 

smartcoat paint can
Ah, can of paint.  Smooth Pebbles is the color.
My goal was to somewhat match the dining room,  I’m not sure why.  It came close yet more beige.  Not a beige fan.  Months later, it seems a dull color choice.  What was I thinking?

With that spiffy laser level attached to a tripod, I randomly located a point on the above-door wall then slanted painters tape down, sort of a mirror angle -ish of the handrail. 

painting walls with an angled edge
Weird how the painted line on the right looks level and not angled.
Next, I painted over that big blank wall in black.  Mike didn’t see it until leaving the next day; I heard a sigh, a grumbling mutter about yet more black paint.  I chuckled.  

painting wall above door black
Black paint!  The best.
Ran over to my second home Menards and picked up four black shelf brackets* and a piece of one by eight nicer pine. 

Two shelves went up, randomly placed.  Obviously these are purely decorative as they’re impossible to reach without that too-heavy fancy fold-em-up ladder

No big deal here, just sank some screw-in wall anchors,* attached the brackets, cut some shelves to whatever size felt right, then attached those to the brackets.  Ok!  Cool!

installing two pine shelves
Yes, this project was very much about randomness.
Next, it was digging through my scrap wood collection time.  Ok, in fairness, I had picked up a small handful of stick lumber so I'd have a variety of length and width and type but this can be done with all scrap.  Or all new.

scrap and new wood pieces for wall
Doin' a little minor layout concept dance here.  Of course it changed in practice.
At first I was going to construction adhesive* everything to the wall but thought better of it after sticking one piece on.  

I was attempting to avoid seeing nail holes but gave up on that and hauled the compressor up.  (Don’t forget, if you don’t have the tools to do any of the projects I offer you, you can rent tools at your local home improvement store or borrow from a friend.  If you’re in Chicago, become a member of the tool library.)

See, my overarching goal for every project is to not do anything permanent; everything has to be easily undone since this isn’t our forever home.  That and well, my (no longer shocking) propensity for redoing everything I’ve already done. 

tacking wood pieces to black painted wall
Tacking has begun!
Lots of up and down the basement stairs and up and down the ladder ensued, trimming to fit weird spaces I created.  Or from mismeasuring.  Ahem.  Tacking everything on with 1" or 1 1/4" brad nails.*

I truly had no plan, just went along and filled in and fit whatever pieces wherever.

Nearing the end, it started to look a tad flat so I opted to try layering and overlapping pieces.  That was the win right there and the wall took shape. 

I grabbed a few of the little white vases from our wedding (I hit up several thrift stores, bought a bunch of different sized and shaped clear glass vases on the super cheap and spray painted them white to great effect) and using an old theater prop trick, Mortite,* stuck them down on the shelves.  They ain’t movin’.

using mortite as museum putty
Mortite, much cheaper for stage use than any museum goo* or whatever it was called.  Mortite does stain though, fyi.

scrap wood wall complete
Not one to ever leave well enough alone, sensing something was amiss-ly boring, I painted a thin Yellow Curd stripe a month later.

painting thin yellow stripe
Suddenly I am all about the yellow.  You'll see, coming soon.
Then, not leaving well enough alone again, two weeks after that I added black slanting up. 

Using the laser level again, I located the bottom shelf then slanted tape lines from there to the opposite end. 

mapping paint lines with laser level
Black paint prep with the laser level.*  Amazingly handy tool.  This Dewalt one is great.
And after all this, I have come to fully accept how much I dislike working on a ladder. 

black paint segment on wall
Black paint!
So now it’s an eclectic collection of new and old, pieces and leftovers from projects around the house!  It’s like a trip down memory lane as I head on out to new adventures.  Or um, just let Finn out to tinkle. 

Plans are in the works for those little vases so stay tuned!

scrap wood and painted geometric walls
It's pretty well the only sorta-kinda mild reference to Scandinavian modern we have in this house.  I really wanted a pendant light but the ceiling is impossible to reach.

modern wood wall with paint
Ah.  Ha.  That's where I left that roll of painters tape.*  Doh.  Crap.
How much did I spend on this?

$18 for a new gallon of black paint, $10 on brackets, $28 on the SmartCoat, about $15 on new lumber, and everything else I had.  

Sooo that's about $71?  Not bad.  Big bang for barely any cash.  I really kind of love it too.  Nice!

*The black shelf brackets, screw-in wall anchors, construction adhesive, brad nails, Mortite, museum putty, laser levels, and painters tape are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.

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