My Stairwell

My Stairwell

My stairwell is another area of my home that has seen multiple transformations since we moved in two years ago.  Really, it has had a few different looks in the past year.  It’s a tricky space…it doesn’t get a lot of light, so I wanted it to be colorful, but not too bright, I like a little moodiness.  Plus I think little nooks like stairwells should be places where you experiment a little.  Small spaces give you more room to be “out there” with your creativity.  This is how I feel about powder baths also.  Do you love a wallpaper pattern, but it would look C-R-A-Z-Y in a larger room?  Put it in your powder bath.  Is there a bright color you adore, but it would be overwhelming in an entire room?  Powder bath.  I’m tellin’ ya.  You’ll be happy, the small space will be happy, win-win.

If you remember this teaser post about my stairwell, then you will remember this kind of fuzzy picture.  (Why did I not take a better one?)

At the end of aforementioned post, I posted this picture and asked you to guess what it was.

Well, it was a true, original Dorothy Draper chest, and yes, it was awesome, and no, it didn’t work.  It looked super weird in that space (too deep), so I sold it.

Let me back up a smidge, and let’s talk color.  The wall was originally Benjamin Moore’s “Revere Pewter”, and I painted it Benjamin Moore’s “Hale Navy”.

I used a semi gloss sheen, and I wish I had gone flat for a couple of reasons.  Although I used the high gloss because I wanted it to have a sparkle effect, high gloss paint should really only be used on flat, non-textured surfaces.  My walls have a slight texture to them (ugh) so while the paint has the shiny look I wanted, I am repeatedly reminded of the texture on the wall.  A flat paint would have hidden the texture better and perhaps would have given the navy color more depth.  When you buy a nice paint like a Benjamin Moore or a Sherwin Williams, Farrow & Ball, etc., it has a lot of pigment in it,  so a flat paint really holds the color well.

Nevertheless, I liked the color overall, but the wall was lacking pizzazz.   After I sold the apothecary looking cabinet, lamp, green mirror, and Draper chest, I used the money to purchase what I really wanted.  I knew exactly what my stairwell needed for some colorful punch.

Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Dragon is a “new classic” print, and I am sure it will be talked about for years to come.  The dragon aspect of it has grown on me, but the colors!  The colors are just gorgeous, and I love the combination of hues with the movement of the pattern.  It really is a masterpiece in many ways.  Therefore, after framing out a symmetrical rectangle on my wall using crown molding, and smoothing out the wall using joint compound and a sander, it was ready.

I still need to tweak some things (like the light fixture, I painted it, but it’s still not what I want – I’m thinking super awesome flush light fixture), but overall, the space is brighter and more interesting.

The chinoiserie lamps were purchased off of Ebay, and I LOVE them!  I have never seen blanc de chine lamps (I wrote about these lamps here) like these so I snatched them up when I found them.  I think they were around $100 each, and while admittedly, that is more than I would pay normally, they are one-of-a-kind, and I will keep these lamps forever.  The wooden box is a prayer box from an old church, which I think is really sweet.  I would love to incorporate this into our family life, but one thing at a time, right?

I put a pair of pretty design books under the old prayer box and added a vintage brass fly (its wings open!) for a quirky touch.  The white lacquer parsons console is from West Elm thought they don’t carry it anymore.  Boo.

The basket is from Home Goods, and this is pretty much how it looks most of the time.  Full of umbrellas, rain boots, a blanket, and random toys that get thrown in there.  The vintage garden stool is awesome, though I have thrown around the idea of switching it out with something solid.

The rug is an estate sale find, and the colors mesmerize me.  Coral, dusty blue, gold, leaf green, and gray.  Yum.

When you are walking in from the living room where the walls are muted, it’s a nice surprise to see the pretty colors.

Of course, it’s nice when you come in the side door, too.  (where we normally enter)

Or when you come down the stairs.

These photos give you a good feel of how the space looks at night.

Although I could probably do twelve “before” pictures (ha!), I will only do two.

And of course, the after.


I think the game changer was the wallpaper when it came to making the space special.  I chose it because I love the story it tells, and the modern yet aged feel it brings.

See you back here tomorrow, friends!

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Many many thanks to the lovely Kat Phillips of for all of the pretty “after” images in this story.

Written by Grace

  • Cathy
    Posted at 11:01h, 31 January

    Fabulous! Love that you didn’t settle, sold what you were not crazy about and splurged on the amazing wallpaper. What an impact it makes and your styling is perfect too. Why do contractors texturize wall??? Arghhh, hate that!
    Cathy @ Room Rx

    • Grace
      Posted at 14:12h, 31 January

      Cathy, I know, right?! Why why? It’s like popcorn ceilings, I don’t get it. Thank you for your kind words! G

  • Tiffany
    Posted at 11:34h, 31 January

    Oh my gosh I love it! Your experimentation with different looks paid off big time!!! I love the way you framed the wall paper, it looks like art now! Beautiful. Pinning it right now!

    • Grace
      Posted at 14:12h, 31 January

      Thank you so much, Tiffany! I totally agree, framing wallpaper really does make it look like art! xx, G

  • Jessica Plattner
    Posted at 11:38h, 31 January

    Gahh I love it! Such a great idea to frame out that fabric.

    • Grace
      Posted at 14:13h, 31 January

      Thanks Jessica! I am really happy with it, it’s so great to see what is in my head turn out beautiful in real life. 🙂 G

  • Sarah Wolfe
    Posted at 11:50h, 31 January

    Fab entry. Now I may just have to drop in by and peak through your front door 🙂

    • Grace
      Posted at 14:13h, 31 January

      I’d love it, Sarah! xoxo

  • Lindsey
    Posted at 11:52h, 31 January

    OMG! All I can say, is LOVE-LOVE-LOVE!!!

    • Grace
      Posted at 14:14h, 31 January

      Yay! Thanks Lindsay! I’m so glad you like it! I so appreciate you taking the time to comment. Love, G

  • blue hydrangea
    Posted at 13:50h, 31 January

    Amazing!! I love it. It looks like a totally different space!!

    • Grace
      Posted at 14:15h, 31 January

      Thank you so much, bluehydrangea! It really did transform well! I’m so happy with it! G

  • christie
    Posted at 21:09h, 31 January

    This is my first time to visit your blog. Love your entry. It is stunning. I agree that using a busy crazy pattern in small doses is the way to go. Everyone has their own level of calm to busy that they like. An entire room in that wallpaper would probably make me dizzy ! For someone else, it would be perfect.
    Is it paper or fabric ? How did you install it ?
    ~ christie

    • Grace
      Posted at 00:36h, 01 February

      Hi Christie, thank you so much! It is the chiang mai wallpaper. The wall was made smooth by using joint compound, making it flat with a brick-shaped trowel and sanding. Then the wallpaper was installed over that with regular paste. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks so much for reading! G

  • Elizabeth @ The Little Black Door
    Posted at 15:33h, 02 February

    Amazing!! I’m sooo in love with every last inch of it. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Grace
      Posted at 18:00h, 04 February

      Thank you so much, Elizabeth! I am enjoying it for sure! Thanks so much for reading! G

  • Jena @ Involving Color
    Posted at 15:56h, 28 August

    Grace, your stairwell looks SO good! I can’t believe the transformation, and oh that wallpaper! It is such a great surprise element, and it adds so much character to the space. Hale Navy was the perfect color choice, and I would love to feature this on my paint color blog, Involving Color. Let me know if you’re interested!

    • Grace
      Posted at 18:34h, 28 August

      Hi Jena, I’m so glad you like it! Of course, I am happy for you to feature it! Be sure to link back – thanks so much. 🙂

      PS – Hale Navy is such a great color!

      Thank you so much for reading and introducing yourself. I’m so happy to “meet” you! 🙂

  • ange
    Posted at 14:14h, 19 February

    Love everything about this! I used to have Hale Navy in my bedroom but I painted over it a few months ago. And I’ve loved the Chaing mia Dragon for a while now but I’m too cheap to buy it. Your space is perfect, love the rug, the wall, the prayer box, all of it!