Oh Say, Can You Believe These $200 Star-Spangled Stairs?

April 1, 2013

Once sporting a mucky 1970s look, this staircase can now proudly be hailed for its beach cottage charm.

After quitting her city job and moving to a beach cottage in northwest Michigan to start a new life with her family, Erin Southwell was in no position to spend extra money. “We were living on savings and a prayer, literally,” she says of that first year in her new home. But she still wanted her family to live in a beautiful house. Tackling the staircase was first on her list. Read more to find out how this was created…

Project at a Glance
What: Staircase makeover
Location: Northwest Michigan
Cost: Under $200

With $200 and elbow grease, Southwell transformed a 1970s shag-carpeted stairway into a cheery beach-inspired space.

“We’re happy with how it turned out,” she says. “I just wanted a casual, bright, whitewashed look for a beach cottage for our young family. My husband didn’t want me to run up a credit card. We call it a win-win.” The stairs lead from the home’s living area to the upstairs bedrooms.

Having the stairs professionally refinished wasn’t in Southwell’s budget. “I couldn’t stand to live with it the way that it was, and I knew that the only way I was going to be able to change it was to get creative and DIY it,” she says.

After pulling up the carpet, she spent many hours pulling up the carpet tack strips and staples with pliers. After sanding and cleaning, she applied three to four coats of white Kilz primer and one coat of white latex porch and floor paint to the stairs, trim and railing.

Southwell completed the DIY almost two years ago, and it has held up well — even with the wear and tear of a toddler running around. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money or even have mad DIY skills — I truly don’t! — to have a beautiful home,” she says.


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