Thursday, April 1, 2010

Front Hall Facelift

Just as you walk in my front door, you're greeted by the staircase to the upstairs. This is typical in a side entrance Greek Revival, only in my cottage it's much more petite. The stairs are about 2 1/2 feet wide and the hallway is just a little over 2 feet.

This is the view that greeted my friends when I gave the first tour of the house just after closing. They were speechless. They didn't see any potential at all. The carpeting was the first to get ripped out. The banister and newel post was stripped of its mint green paint, the pink wallpaper came down and the stairs and floors were refinished.This is same view today. I just repainted most of it except for the back wall where you can see the beadboard is half painted. On the left-hand side is the White River color I painted the living room and the right side is the white primer. The baseboard is also unpainted. And, yes, this wall is different than what you see in the original photo. I ripped that wall out before I moved in because it was such a dark area and I thought I would find a window hidden behind the outside wall. Why I rebuilt the wall is a story for another day.
Imagine how many people have walked up these stairs to bed in the last 167 years.
I kind of think the newel post and the banister should be a little darker. What do you think?

Here's a before photo looking toward the front door. It's a great shot of the pink shiny wallpaper.
And here's what it looks like today. As you can see it's a very tight space. The track light wasn't my first choice but it allows me to take off the spotlights making it easier to get furniture and building materials in and out. The back of the front door was painted mint green and since I expected the door to be replaced rather quickly--hopefully as part of the porch project--I just used walnut gel stain to make it look like wood. The door is also the wrong style. This is a Colonial style door. The original trim is still around the door so you can see where the sidelights are supposed to be (where the switch is). They may still be behind that panel.
Here's a really blurry shot of the front stairs viewed from the living room.
And what that looks like today. One the projects on my short list is repaint the wall going up the stairs. You can see that tried a color (behind the lowest balusters) that I hated so I primed over it.
I'm considering painting this stair wall a dark gray. I think it would beautifully highlight the graceful curve of the base molding.


  1. Steve,
    You sure have some great architectural details in your home. I love the curved base, I'd definitely paint the wall so that stands out more. It's certainly a tight squeeze to get things through that hall, I'm sure. And I love your mirror! Is there any stain on the newel and railing or is that what it looked like after you stripped it. Maybe a coat of poly would bring out the grain more and darken it up a little. They're beautiful.

  2. I love what you've done with the front hall. I would try a little darker stain on the newel post and railing too. I always love gray paint.

    Our friends thought we were crazy when we bought this place but they sure loved coming here after we moved in!

  3. Wonderful job. I think I would stain the banister the same colour as the stairs or perhaps a shade lighter. I love grey-I'm painting my living room a shade of gray. However, I would go a lighter shade of gray as you'll be faced with a dark enclosed space again which could be depressing. Love the painting you have in you hall.

  4. Your facelift looks great! Would love to see more of the painting on the wall. I wouldn't do the banister and newel post darker. I think the lighter color brings out more of the lighter tones in the floor and treads.

  5. Your update looks amazing! What a difference! Love the stairs with it's white risers and dark stained steps. Would love to do soemthing similar in my home. Great job.

  6. Really? I think it's a little orange and a little flat feeling, almost not like real wood. Not too much darker but maybe just a coat of shellac or something to make it a little richer.

  7. Hi Steve,

    I think the newel post needs to be darker. And I love the idea of a dark gray on the stair wall. I think it would be really dramatic. I love that there are little interesting details in your house. Mine has none. And like you I'm always wondering about the people that used to live here and how they lived. That's one of the best things about living in an old house don't you think?


    ps - My laptop is pretty old and my screen is not the best so colors and details sometimes escape me. My opinion goes by what I see here! FYI.

  8. You have been incredibly busy on this home! Whoever thought that putting a staircase right as you walk in the door was a good design idea?! However, the fabulous newel post makes up for it - it's gorgeous and I would defintely stain it a little darker to match the stairs so there is more continuity in the colors. Definately I would paint the wall a light shade of gray - light so it doesn't feel too enclosed. I love the refinished floors - well done!
    And the rug - GORGEOUS!
    I look forward to seeing what door you choose and hearing about why you rebuilt the wall.
    You're doing a wonderful job bringing her back to her original beauty!

  9. You're hilarious...I just read your "creeped out" comment! :)

  10. Hi Steve, These are my most favorite kinds of posts - before and afters! Especially when they're so fabulously dramatic. I have an inspiration photo hanging on my cork board that looks very much like your 'after.' I love it.
    And I think the newel post would look richer a bit darker. Love that huge work of art hanging in the hall - and having a light illuminate it is such a nice touch.

  11. I just showed my husband your front hall and he wants to see the painting on the wall!

  12. The painting is a big mixed media by a Rhode Island/New York artist named Ron Ehrlich. This is a first piece of artwork I bought about 15 years ago...before I owned a house. It's marble dust, encaustic and he puts on, sands off, paints on, burns off, scratches in, paints more and then melts with a blow torch. It's very minimal and textural so it doesn't photograph well. I'll see if I can get some photos of it this weekend since so many people have asked. I so happy that everyone is so interested in the art!

  13. Wow! What a transformation - it is amazing... Agree with you that the banister and newel post should prob. be a little darker... Re : the colour on the wall - have you considered (but I am not sure you can get them in USA - I think you can...) Farrow and Ball's 'Bone' or maybe 'Hardwick White' (which isn't a white though, more a grey!) - think they would both work so well in your lovely home.

  14. Great job. I agree about darkening the newel post and banister. The carved molding is amazing and the art is perfect there - very dramatic with the light focused on it. Love the rug too. Is that a cat in the photo?

  15. Hi Steve! Popped over from Trina's! Your entry looks almost identical to mine, with the exception of the wall the painting is on- someone before us removed that wall, so there are two open rooms off the entry- our living room and a small reading room. My stairs are also similar (banister is natural) and my newel post was lack-luster,just as you described yours- flat and it didn't look like real wood. I painted it a high gloss black and it makes a fabulous statement right as you walk in the door, and really makes the details of the newel post pop! Good luck with your decision!