back staircase kitchen stairs after
colonial farmhouse,  decorating

Back Staircase Before and After

Our Colonial Farmhouse has a front staircase and a back staircase.

The front staircase has gorgeous trim work and is located in the center of our home. The stairs made an appearance in my music room post.

Then there is the back staircase.

Oh, the back staircase.

These stairs are tucked away in a far corner of our home and are a shortcut from the kitchen up to the bedrooms.

When we bought the Colonial Farmhouse the back staircase was steep, narrow and ugly. The stairs weren’t inherently ugly. It was more bad bridesmaid dress kind of ugly.

However, I saw the potential in those stairs. If fact, it was one of the charming design features of the Colonial Farmhouse that made my heart go pitter-patter.

It took me five months to get around to tackling the back staircase makeover. Today, the back staircase is still steep and narrow, but not so ugly.

Let’s get to the good part: pictures of our back staircase before and after!

Warning: cutesy, but startling images of farm animals ahead. Viewer discretion is advised.

Here is the back staircase when we bought the house…

back staircase kitchen stairs before and after

Are you guys still with me after that before picture? I did warn you.

It only took 40 minutes to remove all the wallpaper from the stairs.

It will take me 40 years to forget that hideous wallpaper.

I was hoping the stair risers were stained wood, but they had been painted a brown color at some point. The wood was quite gouged and pock-marked. There were also some mysterious white drips that would not wash off. These are not the kind of mysteries that I relish.

back staircase kitchen stairs before and after

Now is the point in this story where I show you how I used the latest and greatest in home design trends to makeover this space.


You guys know that isn’t me.

back staircase kitchen stairs

Nothing cutting edge needed to happen with this back staircase makeover. All this utilitarian space needed was for a wrong to be righted. Remove the ugly wallpaper, paint it something timeless, and move on.

When I realized the stair risers had previously been painted dark, I made a decision on the fly to stick with that dark theme. Thankfully, I had some black paint leftover from the sunporch project. So, yes, that is porch paint on the risers. It covers really well and should be super durable.

It should be noted that I decided not to address the imperfections in the wood on the stair risers. First, that brown paint is probably lead-based. Second, even if I tested the paint and it wasn’t lead-based, I didn’t think the reward to effort ratio was high enough to make it worth my while to sand and patch the stair risers. If I run out of projects in this house, I can always come back to this one.

But this makeover wasn’t done!

back staircase kitchen stairs after 9

The walls and trim also received a fresh coat of white paint. The walls were already white, but what you can’t tell from these pictures is the wall color used to be blue.

At some point, a well-intentioned person had painted around all the pictures on the wall without removing the pictures. There were faint blue squares – fourteen to be exact – going up and down the stair walls.

At the top of the stairs is a landing with a linen closet. If you think your eyes are playing tricks on you, they aren’t. The picture ledges are hung level so that the pictures don’t fall off. The ceiling and the floor both slope different directions. There’s nothing like a little mind trip to mess with your equilibrium before you descend super steep, narrow stairs.

back staircase kitchen stairs before and after

The back staircase was not original to the house. It would have been added when the kitchen was built onto the house in the last 75 – 100 years. I haven’t been able to nail down a firm date on that.

Someone asked me if these stairs would have been servant stairs. I could be wrong, but due to the age of the kitchen addition and the location of our home, I think that is unlikely. I’ll let you know if I discover any information that would better inform or change that opinion.

Right now, I’m just happy to have scratched this eyesore off the to-do list. Now we have to decide which project we are going to tackle next and I’m running out of low hanging fruit.

P.S. Do you want to know when Handy Husband gets irritated with me? Of course you do! Everyone wants to know the dirt. It relates to the project of hanging those picture  ledges.

He gets irritated when we hang something in a room that was built like a funhouse and our conversation goes something like this:

HH: It is level.

Me: It doesn’t look level.

HH: It’s level. The level says it is level.

Me: Do you think the level is wrong? It doesn’t look right.

HH: The level isn’t wrong. It’s a level.

Me: Hmmm. I don’t know. It still doesn’t look right.

HH: I don’t know what to tell you. It. is. level.

Me: Can you move it just a tad higher. Nope! Too high. Just a tad lower…only on the right side. Don’t move the left. Back up. Just a smidge more. I said a SMIDGE. There. Wait. No. Yes. That’s perfect.

HH: That’s not level.

Me: Just hang it.

We’ve smartened up and the last time we hung shelves in a room that was built like a funhouse, we didn’t use the level. I just eyeballed it and we skipped over the whole irritation part.

I did read this story to Handy Husband to get his permission to post it. In his true chatty fashion he just cracked half a smile, which I took to mean he approved. Now that I think about it, maybe he was approving of me poking fun at myself. Either way, now you know the dirt. Maybe I should start a marriage advice blog.


The walls in the hallway and landing are painted Arcade White by Behr.

The trim is painted Bit of Sugar by Behr.

The stair risers are painted with black porch paint by Behr.

Thanks for checking out the pictures of my back staircase! I do love sharing my journey with you. Here are some other posts you might enjoy.

Music Room Before and After

Bookrack Makeover for an Older Boy’s Room

Idea for Displaying an Souvenir Pin Collection 

Tourist Maps Make Great Wrapping Paper


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  • Laura Laskey

    That HH conversation is TOO funny! I also have the same conversation with mine. Thank you for the good chuckle! Now I have to go wash my eyes from looking at that hideous wallpaper! 🙂

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