This week’s installment of Shoestring Makeover hasn’t exactly reached Makeover Station. It’s more like the disaster area has gone through the sloughing-off journey, and is comfortably waiting at the station known as Clean Slate. I do however think this is a transformation worth sharing, also because I would like your opinion on something…
This is my foyer, before the previous owners vacated. If you happened to have missed it, that incongruous white blob is indeed a refrigerator. Yes, there was another in the kitchen.
Take a good long whiff with your eyes, if you can, of that rare carpet. Please also note the melamine stick-on wainscoting. If you pay close attention to the photo following the diptych of the stairs, you will see how the stick-on was clearly an effort to cover up a full-fledged hole in the wall — look left, just above the railing.
View from second floor to first landing.
In the view below, you can see a sideboard and carpet against the right wall. When we took possession of the house, everything was gone except for the runner on the stairs, and that busy rug. The runner needed pulling up, so I understood why it was left behind. The rug however, wasn’t in such bad condition — why would they leave it? Well, when we triumphantly hoofed it to the curb, beneath it was revealed a base-of-the-toilet-shaped hole, along with a sink-pipe-shaped hole, puncturing a clear view through the first floor to the basement, where a sewage pipe directly beneath, peaked up above the concrete basement floor, gagged with some rags. Yup. At some point — in the recent past, I suspect — the space beneath that rug was occupied by a “first floor bathroom”. Really, we should have taken a photo.
This is the work in progress…
One thing I have to mention: when I painstakingly peeled off the faux bois melamine, beneath it, awaited a painted faux finish of the exact same thing… Yes — a painted version of what I just spent a full day peeling — I almost lost my mind…
So this is the “After.” Like I said, it isn’t the final incarnation of what I hope my foyer to become, but I think it’s a pretty good start… (See more photos below.)
What we did:
- Peeled the wallpaper
- Replaced some crumbling plaster with squares of drywall
- Patched, plastered, sanded and painted the walls with Benjamin Moore 925 (a wam off white)
- Patched, plastered, sanded and painted the trim with Benjamin Moore High Gloss white
- Patched and sanded the floors (really, they’re too thin and old to have gone through that, but we can’t afford new floors — or correction, the floors that I want — right now.)
- Sanded the first flight of stairs, repainted the railing spindles with Benjamin Moore High Gloss white
- Painted the second and third flight of stairs with High Gloss Floor paint in white and affixed new railing
- Took the doors off the passage into the kitchen
- Hung a garage-sale coat rack and placed beneath it an Ikea shoe rack
- Sourced VERY affordable vintage furniture; chest of drawers on wheels with lovely brass hardware, black and white storage bench (top lifts), oval mirror (garage sale), Moroccan light (splurge, from Elte Carpet and Home), Ikea carpet.
- Wall art; hung existing lithograph on feature wall, and existing original photography (taken and framed by my husband) up the stairs.
If you look closely, you can see where we patched the floor, punctured by the ex-bathroom. The toilet hole is beneath the chest of drawers.
To give the facade of the staircase some visual interest — it’s not a small area — we decided to paint the receding areas off white, and the raised areas a true white. Oh, and we actually do buy milk in bottles and haul them back to the store in that old-fashioned red milk-bottle crate. It’s not just a prop.
Good Shoestring Tip
Painting stairs with high gloss paint is a great way to avoid refinishing them, and is an especially good choice if you’re considering embarking on a full-fledged reno in the near future. When we ripped that runner off the second flight of stairs, the wood was already marbled with some indiscernible treatments, so we roughly sanded it down and painted the whole thing white. (The befores are above.)
These are actually quite easy to keep clean, but what I would recommend is a seagrass runner to avoid slipping. We’ll be installing one shortly, because these are kind of deadly for socks.
The railing is something we made from a pre-made oak railing bought at Home Depot. I stained it with pickling stain to get a bleached wood patina and bought some generic stainless hardware.
Here’s where I Need Your Opinion…
If you hadn’t noticed, we don’t have any real storage. IT DRIVES ME CRAZY. What you see in this photo is definitely a temporary solution, and ALSO DRIVES ME CRAZY.
I’ve proposed to my husband that we should attempt a built-in closet in place of the large print and chest of drawers. Where the old ‘bathroom’ used to be. We’ve measured it out so that there’s ample room for staircase traffic to pass, and so that the window won’t be terribly obstructed.
We’re also looking to keep it shallow, so that it doesn’t intrude into the space so much. It will be shallower than a standard coat hanger, and we’ll be hanging our coats on two staggered rows of wall-mounted hooks. Shelving will be built above for miscellaneous storage and below for shoes.
Do you think this will work? We’re pretty set on it, but it kind of makes me nervous. Do you see any issues?