The house here at Double Heart is essentially an American Foursquare, with a small center entry leading right into the stairway to the second floor. A landing just a few steps up opens to a small main-floor powder room. The stairs continue to another landing at the back of the house with a window overlooking the property before wrapping around for another few steps to reach the upstairs hall.
Stairways offer some unique design challenges. First and foremost, they are a functional passageway for the home, so most design decisions should revolve around improving utility. In our home, this translates to three key requirements:
- Plenty of room for walking up and down the stairs, often while carrying thing and dodging dogs.
- Plenty of light to ensure you can see where you’re going, day or night.
- Plenty of traction. Wood steps can be slippery and the dogs (and Chris) have taken tumbles on them in the past.
But we still want style!
- Add grip. To make the stairs safer (and comfier underfoot), we will be installing a runner.
- Add light. There’s no ceiling fixture at the landing at the top of the stairs. Because the second floor hallway light is far from the landing, the stairway is very dark at night. We have access to power at the landing and will be installing a wall sconce.
- Add privacy. The landing window is lovely during the day but can leave you feeling exposed at night. While it’s unlikely anyone other than the turkeys or deer will be hanging out in the field at night, it would still be nice to have a sense of privacy. Plus, in the colder months, it’s great to have window treatments for coziness. We’ll be adding a blind and drapes.
- Add color. The off-white walls and ceilings of the hallway are an opportunity to introduce some character. Since we don’t want to hang art here – see the “plenty of room” requirement up above – we do want to make the stairway more memorable. We want to keep the walls light, but the ceiling will be going dark to add a note of distinction and tie in with some other dark ceilings we have planned.
We’re using one of our favorite colors for the stairway walls – Sherwin Williams’ SW 6519 Hinting Blue. We previously used this subtle, happy color on the walls and ceilings of our Modern Farmhouse in Austin, TX. Click here to see a few photos of how that turned out.
The ceiling will be coated in SW 7048 Urbane Bronze, which just happens to be Sherwin Williams’ 2021 Color of the Year. We love the smooth richness of this color, with a subtle touch of brown to keep it from feeling cold.
We chose a light, happy runner for the stairs. The Skona pattern from Dash & Albert, one of our favorite sources for striped rugs and runners, has an off-white with pinkish red pinstripes. They’re reminiscent of old grainsacks and will add character, warmth, and grip to the stair treads.
We’re using a Roman shade from Smith and Noble. Made of natural bamboo, this blind provides privacy when closed and adds character to a window when pulled open.
One of Roger’s tricks is to use white drapes to brighten up a dark area. So these linen drapes from Pottery Barn will bring another layer of softness, brightness, and privacy to the landing. We’ll hang them from a white wood drapery rod.
The Unknowns – We Need Your Feedback!
We’ve painted the stairs in our previous houses – see images from the Modern Farmhouse, the Grey House, and the Gothic Tudor – and we’re considering doing so at the farm. We wouldn’t paint the stair treads, but the risers may go Urban Bronze. Remember, they’re also going to be wrapped with the Skona runner from up above. Should we paint them or not?
The rails for the stairway are pretty simple. Rather than the ornately carved wood or distinctive metal you might otherwise find in a house of this vintage, they’re the straight-forward wood rails with metal brackets you can find just about anywhere. Nothing unsightly, but nothing special. What we aren’t sure about just yet is whether we should paint them Urbane Bronze to match the ceiling. What do you think? Let us know!
We aren’t sure which sconce would be best for the landing. We’ve rounded up a few favorites. Let us know in the comments below which you like most.
- Nantucket Aged Brass Small Wall Sconce, $139. View on site.
- Custom Metal Bell Hood, Bronze Bell Hood with Bronze Classic Arc Sconce, $199. View on site.
- Watson Double Sconce, $293. View on site.
- Echo Art Deco Porcelain Wall Sconce, $165. View on site.
- Pelham Moon Light in Brass, $375. View on site.
- Camryn Glass Sconce, Bronze & Antique Brass, $149. View on site.
Stay tuned for progress photos and the completed stairway.
I would paint the risers and the handrail. #3 for the light is also divine.
I would consider changing out the hardware that the handrail is supported by for something substantial. Think antique metal brackets.
Good idea about the brackets. We’ve been looking into options!
Since the stairs will have a runner I wouldn’t paint the risers. I really really love #6 so if you don’t paint the risers I would use 6 with black brackets to hold up the railing. If you paint the risers then paint the railing and use #3