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Update Your Entryway with this Easy Staircase Makeover

An Easy Staircase Makeover is surprisingly possible in just one weekend.

Check out how we did it and you”ll soon see why!

stairway with black painted risers and white decal numbers applied

Do you ever look at something long enough that makes you want to change it?

That’s what eventually happened to me and my staircase. In this case, it all started with my clock.

I’m always glancing at my Stairway Gallery Wall when I check the time.

So I guess seeing the same thing over and over became ho-hum.

In other words, it doesn’t sit well with my redecorranging self!

Here’s how our stairs looked before.

Easy Staircase Makeover

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Yikes, right? That pink, old carpet was really nasty.

When we tackled our hardwood floors, one of the first things I decided to rip up was the old, pink stair runner.

We were so excited to see that the wood stairs were complete all the way across the treads.

Some carpeted stairs only have partial wood treads on the sides, leaving the plywood as an underlayment for the carpet.

So we were very happy to learn that we wouldn’t need new stair risers.

When we hired our guys to install our hardwood floors, they added the cost of updating the stair treads to match the new flooring.

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They looked like new stair treads!

And we were thinking of painting the handrail, but the color of the newel post matched some of the darker wood grain in our floors.

So I simply used wood filler on the nail holes left from ripping out the old carpet where the brad nailer or staple gun had attached it.

Then I gave it a fresh coat of white paint and let it be.

Here’s how it looked just a few months ago.

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Our staircase opens into our living room, so I needed to give it a little decor love with some family photos creating a fun gallery wall.

I loved seeing my boys’ sweet baby faces, but as they have grown, they started to get embarrassed of having their photos on display.

Especially when friends came over, and especially that many photos.

Indeed it was kind of shrine-esque, I’ll admit.

So, it was time for a change! Funny how I hate changes in my personal life, but love to switch things up almost daily in my home.

Anywho…..this space needed updating.

Above all, the main thing I wanted to makeover were my stair risers.

staircase with wood treads and risers getting painted black

But then when I saw some number decals, I was instantly inspired!

I previously worked with them when I updated my Farmhouse Kitchen Island stools and I love how easy of a product it is to work with.

Today, I had to share this simple tutorial with you for my Easy Staircase Makeover.

Painting the Risers

staircase with wood treads and risers getting painted black

To begin with, I painted the risers of my stairs.

Particularly, I wanted a muted look and tried to achieve that using chalk paint.

staircase with wood treads and risers getting painted black

And it looked amazing!

Until… womp, womp….

My son’s large ski-of-a-foot walked up the stairs, instantly scratching the risers.

And then I remembered.  Every piece of trim in this house is painted with oil paint, including these risers, which means you have to cover oil with oil.

So if you want to do a lot of prep to make the oil surfaces latex-paintable – it is doable. But this momma don’t have time for that!

Since I had black oil paint on hand, my budget-minded self was happy to save the money using what I had, even though it was not sheen I originally wanted.

So I got out my paint brush and painter’s tape again and was finished in just a little time.

After a couple of coats of paint, I waited until the next day for the paint to fully dry to move on to the vinyl decals.

staircase with wood treads and risers getting painted black

Adding Vinyl Numbers to your Staircase

Number decals

Supplies for this next step:

I found my vinyl decals from a small online shop that has since closed.

What I loved most about these were that the vinyl numbers come in 2 workable options – either to use as stencils or as vinyl transfers, which is the application I’m using.

white number decal being applied to a stair riser with transfer paper and a scraper

First, I removed the outer trim, leaving just the number on the paper.

*Note: You would do the opposite if you were using this as a stencil.

magic cover clear transfer paper

Included with their product was this magic paper.

And let me tell you, it’s undoubtedly magic. I don’t know what kind of juju it’s made of, but I love this stuff – and you’ll see why!

white number decal being applied to a stair riser with transfer paper and a scraper

You simply separate the magic paper from its backing.

Then apply it over the vinyl number you want to transfer.

Easy Staircase Makeover

You line it up with your number.

Lightly scratch the magic paper over the vinyl number using a plastic scraper. Mine is just a plain ol’ kitchen scraper.

white number decal being applied to a stair riser with transfer paper and a scraper

This is how you can easily transfer the vinyl number without risking tears.

Plus this gives you the option to make sure it is placed correctly before sticking it down.

white number decal being applied to a stair riser with transfer paper and a scraper

Then carefully peel the paper away.

You’ll see it leaving the number on the magic paper.

white number decal being applied to a stair riser with transfer paper and a scraper

This basically creates a workable transfer for your number.

But here’s where it’s magic – it’s reusable!

Then you simply line it up and lightly place it where you want it to go.  

white number decal being applied to a stair riser with transfer paper and a scraper

I measured and marked a small tick on each riser so that each number would line up.

After placing a number or two, I would take a step back and adjust to the left or the right as needed.

The number stayed on the magic paper until it was time to transfer.

How cool is that?!

white number decal being applied to a stair riser with transfer paper and a scraper

Once I had my number ‘locked in place’ I used my handy dandy scraper and lightly rubbed the number on the riser.

Make sure you go over each edge of the number thoroughly.

white number decal being applied to a stair riser with transfer paper and a scraper

After that, carefully peel the magic paper away and the number stays.

Instantly, it made a huge difference!

white number decal being applied to a stair riser with transfer paper and a scraper

However, if your number didn’t adhere completely, rub the vinyl very lightly in the places needed.

I only had to do this a couple of times.

stairway with black painted risers and white decal numbers applied

Then just repeat each step with the other numbers.

Another magic thing about this paper is the reusability factor.

stairway with black painted risers and white decal numbers applied

One piece almost completed the entire staircase. I used the same piece of transfer paper for 8 numbers.

Now check out the final product!

This is what greets you when you open our front door.

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stairway with black painted risers and white decal numbers applied

Ooh-wee! That gets me so excited!

It looks like a new stairs! And it instantly gives visual interest when you open the door.

Of course, I love how fast this easy staircase makeover was. Other than the painting mishap, this diy wasn’t a lot of work.

If I didn’t have to repaint the stairs, this would have been done in a day.

But I wasn’t finished there. I still had the gallery wall to update.  

Updating Our Gallery Wall

Gallery wall made up of black and white key decor

I have a thing for keys and old locks.

In fact, I have accumulated quite the collection over the past few years.

From keys from estate sales and junkin finds, to some pieces from my family members – which are undoubtedly my fav!

framed sheet music with keys and a black ornate frame

One of my favorite pieces is this framed DIY artwork I made years ago.

It’s especially precious because it’s from my first voice teacher.

My cousin who has passed.  It still shows his notes he made for me and each time I pass it by, I smile.

Chalk painted clipboard with twine rope holding vintage sheet music cards and a old set of iron keys

I also included my DIY Clipboard Art frames with vintage music cards.

And those keys with the broken ring always hung in my grandma’s house. I love that it’s now in my own home.

black white and silver key gallery wall on a stairway
stairway with black painted risers and white decal numbers applied

So now my entryway now looks welcoming and amazing with this Easy Stairway Makeover and new gallery wall!

So what do you think?

Image of dresser with glass knows looking at a stairway with key decorating the wall
stairway with black painted risers and white decal numbers applied
black wire basket filled with old books

Even though I had hoped for the chalky sheen of the other paint, the smooth finish of this paint looks great.

And I couldn’t be more pleased with the end result.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest way to renovate stairs?

By far, painted stairs is the easiest way and the most economical option. You can take any dated, old staircase and give it a brand new look with a can of paint.

Just use paint and do it yourself. Create a pretty pattern with stencils, or make a dramatic statement with black risers like I did, or choose a different color that works with the rest of the house.

There are many fun things you can do with a little paint and stairs.

How much does it cost to update a staircase?

For this project, I was only out the cost of the vinyl decals, which were less than $20.

However, for our basement stair makeover, we installed new treads, replaced the balusters, and added a carpet runner. That was closer to $500.

How can I change the look of my stairs?

Here are some other DIY options to consider if you aren’t a fan of this stair makeover.

  • Ombre Look: Have you seen these before? You start with a darker color on the lowest riser and work your way up to lighter paint colors. It’s definitely a statement piece!
  • New Stair Treads: They have some really cool tread covers made from laminate flooring that slide right over the existing stair. It’s on the pricier side, but it’s a great way to update your stairs without a lot of effort.
  • Install a Stair Runner: We just did this with our basement stairs and by adding a new runner, it gave our stairs a new look.

I hope these easy steps inspired you to create your own diy staircase makeover.

Using stencils and decals is the easiest way to create a temporary look that lasts a long time.

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stairway with black painted risers and white decal numbers applied

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31 Comments

  1. Michelle – this was the perfect start to my day today! Thank you so much for honoring me with this feature!

  2. Hi!! Stopping by from the Remodelaholic link up! I just love these stairs and so many great tips! There might just be a staircase makeover in my future…

  3. I am wanting to tear up my carpet and have wooden stairs. I love this look you have created. Great job and thanks for sharing on To Grandma’s House We Go!

  4. I love this project, Jen! I’ve been wanting to pull the carpet off of our stairs and do something similar since we moved in (11 years ago). I never would have thought of using vinyl numbers. I would have tried to stencil them and made a mess of it. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the inspiration! I may get to this project yet!

  5. This looks so cool, it really goes so great with the gallery wall and I just love the numbers you added. I thought you used stencils at first, this looks way easier!

  6. Aw, Teresa – you can live vicariously through my photos! LOL Thanks for hosting a fun linky!

  7. Ah…. see, now my OCD is showing! I did the head tilt eye squint for about 5 minutes on each step before moving on! LOL

  8. A beautiful makeover! I am just amazed that you got all the numbers to line up so well! It looks beautiful. Pinned.

  9. It looks great! Sadly, I doubt my husband would let me do something similar to our staircase, but I think the numbered steps look really cool. Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party this week. Pinned.

  10. Hi! Visiting form the Grandmas House linkup πŸ™‚ This is such an awesome project! I love the way the stairs look with the front painted black, and of course those numbers are so cool! Too cute!

  11. Thanks Lisa! It has been a project I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and I’m so happy that I was finally able to tackle it! Thanks for taking the time to comment. It means so much!

  12. I love the black numbered stair risers. They look so perfect with the key collage display in your stairwell. Great tutorial!

  13. What a cool makeover! Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday! Can’t wait to see what you link up next week! Roseann from This Autoimmune Life

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