3-Step Stairwell Makeover: Hardwood, Glass Door & Photo Wall


My 3-Step Stairwell Makeover used hardwood, a glass door, and a photo gallery to transform my stairwell from eyesore to enjoyable!

3-step stairwell makeover

After a decade of wear and tear, our carpeted stairwell leading from the kitchen to the basement had become awful. (see photo below). The carpet was soiled and torn in several places~totally beyond repair. With kids constantly trekking up and down the stairs, it had become an eyesore.

Knowing that we planned to stay in our house for the long haul, my husband and I decided to bite the bullet and update the stairwell once and for all. We knew that meant hardwood and a few other updates, but we were eager to tackle the project so that we would enjoy, not dread, our space.

stairwell makeover
Old Stairwell

We took a 3-step approach to updating the stairwell. First, we decided to replace the carpet with hardwood treads. Second, we opted to replace the standard solid door between the kitchen and the stairwell with a glass one. Third, we made one wall a small gallery of family photos. These 3 updates made a huge difference and made our stairwell one of our favorite spaces.

For those of you looking to update your stairwell, here are a few bits of advice that I have based on my project.

Hardwood steps: This is the costliest part of the project, but it gives huge payback in satisfaction! We LOVE our hardwood and wish we had done it sooner. Our only post-project regret is that we went with the lowest bidder and now have issues with the structure of the steps.  Our contractor did not measure correctly for step height at the bottom of the landing (which has to be adjusted when going from carpet to hardwood). Now, we have a too-short step that throws folks off balance at the bottom of the stairwell. This reinforces the need to go with the best contractor, not necessarily the lowest bidder.

Glass Door: The glass door at the top of our stairwell has probably garnered more comments from guests than anything else in the house! It is amazing how it opens the space from the upstairs to the basement. It also allows the photo wall to be seen even when the door is closed. We bought our door at Home Depot, and I chose the full glass. There are several to choose from, but I opted for no panes. The contractor painted and installed it, along with adding new hardware. It is such a wonderful way to open up the space from the upstairs to the basement. This was a simple, inexpensive change that made such a big difference.

























Photo Wall: I bought 11 x14 black wooden frames from Old Time Pottery for less than $13 apiece. They had a Pottery Barn look at a fraction of the cost! They were already matted for 8 x 10 photos, so I printed favorite photos in 8 x 10 (black & white) to achieve a uniform look. My favorite framer, Vicki at Thompson Frame Factory, took it from there. She framed the photos and added wire to the back for easy hanging. Note: I bought all the frames available so that I would have them in storage as I added to my gallery. I learned long ago the savvy trick of buying extra (frames, fabric, etc….) to allow for breakage and expansion.

Paint and stain: I chose my favorite neutral~Ben Moore Manchester Tan (HC 81), to paint the step risers, handrail, and trim. We are moving toward painting the whole house in this color, and it goes well with everything from cool to warm. We chose dark walnut stain for the steps, which is diffrerent from the upstairs hardwood but doesn’t bother me at all.

This 3-step stairwell makeover was a bit of an investment, but it has had huge payoff. I love being able to enjoy the space leading down to the basement. It makes the basement feel like part of the house, and it is SO much easier to clean. If you have savvy ideas on updating a stairwell, please share them in the comments! As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

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  1. Hi Chelsea! We have never had a problem at all. The glass is thick, and I am sure it is probably tempered glass. It is one of my favorite things; I highly recommend it!!!!

  2. Hi! I love the glass door, but I worry about safety, someone falling through or something. Have you happened to have any issues or does that seem to be a non-issue?

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