191) Painted Stairs – A Birch Forest

by Gail on January 31, 2013

Like much of our construction at This Green House, building stairs is not very sexy. There are lots of guts but minimal glamour.before & after basement stairs

This basement staircase we’ve been building looks a bit zen from the top of the stairs – a calm and sophisticated coastal white with a navy stripe going down each edge. My last post detailed how I reclaimed old fir stair treads. We installed six drawers at the bottom for storing outdoor gear and shoes.fitting drawers into staircase

Because this job may well be our last chance to see inside the skeleton of our house, I decided we needed to place a time capsule in the cavity under the stairs before I covered it. It’s a time capsule that has no “to be opened date.” Rather, I hope it might be discovered in about 100 years, when future owners will be renovating or (God forbid) demolishing the house. Inside the plastic time capsule (in case water somehow gets into the space) I’ve placed the front section of a current newspaper and some flyers from local stores so the treasure-hunter can see how much food and other stuff costs, and what sort of current mass technology is on offer.contents of time capsule

There are a five dollar bill and our current coins, including the penny, which the Canadian Mint ceases production of today(!)canadian money 2012

A card with a small sample of my stitched art. I produced a booklet with a brief history of building This Green House, complete with a few pictures and details about us (birth dates, etc.)time capsule contents1

And, finally, I placed our original plasticized house plans beside the capsule.time capsule in its nook

Will all the inks survive? Will bugs breach the plastic bin?time capsule collage

I would adore discovering such pieces of history during a renovation. I could have just included a memory stick with all the information on it, but I doubt the technology could decipher it in 100 years.

Back to the stairs themselves:

It took me a solid day to cut and cajol plywood risers so they’d all fit.riser measurements

I was able (just barely!) to salvage 3 old risers that came with the old treads for the drawer fronts.reclaimed drawer fronts

Then, I took them all into my studio to give them a little facelift.riser paints

I installed the drawer fronts with screws, and the risers with glue and finishing nails:glue&nail risers

Used some old bakelite drawer pulls from D’s parents’ house – another reminder in our home of loved ones we have lost.

bakelite drawer pull

Now, when we approach the staircase from the bottom, we round the corner near the end of a hallway, and, pow! there is a surprise in store:painted risers2

drawers in stairs

birch-painted stairs

A slice of birch forest rises up the staircase. At its base: the thirteen floral symbols of the 10 Canadian provinces and 3 territories. (A much easier task than the US state flowers!)canadian flowers

At the location where the water main enters the house, a tiny faucet on the tree trunk marks the spot. There’s a nest with eggs. A little bit of whimsy, but mostly what I hope will be an uplifting scene for all those who will climb these stairs! And, if we ever get tired of Gail’s birch forest, we can paint it all over!

stairs above & below Collage

I was so excited to do this project – much more fun than stripping.

(Treads, I mean.)

What would you put into a time capsule?

before&after stair risers

Sharing my excitement with these fun link parties:

Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Feature Friday, Funky Junk Interiors’ Saturday Nite Special, A Little Knick Knack’s EBTKS, Rose Chintz Cottage, My Romantic Home’s Show & Tell Friday, The Shabby Nest’s Frugal Friday (FEATURED!), Rooted in Thyme’s Simple & Sweet Fridays, Maiden D’Shade, Fox Hollow Cottage’s Power of Pinterest (FEATURED!), The Self-Sufficient HomeAcre’s Blog Hop, Mockingbird Hill Cottage’s A Favorite Thing, Twigg Studios’ Showcase Sunday, Little Red House’s Mosaic Monday, Creating My Way to Success’s A Round Tuit, Stylish Once Again’s Restyled Sundays (FEATURED!), Boogieboard Cottage’s Masterpiece Monday (FEATURED!), Under the Table and Dreaming’s Sunday Showcase Party, Mod Vintage Monday, Cozy Little House’s Tweak-It-Tuesday (FEATURED!), Creative Cain Cabin’s Budget Decorating Party, Savvy Southern Style‘s Wow Us Wednesday, Timewashed’s Blissful Whites, Coastal Charm’s Nifty Thrifty TuesdayElizabeth & Co, DIY by Design’s Winter Blues WednesdayGreen Eggs and Goats (FEATURED!), The Brambleberry Cottage’s Time Travel Thursday, Savvy Southern Style, The Dedicated House






{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Lavender Cottage January 31, 2013 at 7:43 pm

The staircase is stunning, I know I’d enjoy travelling up and down it.
I think everything you put in the time capsule is what I would too, especially the money that was a good idea.
I wish we could go back to paper ones and twos. The coins are bulky and can be heavy when they accumulate.


marissa | Rae Gun Ramblings January 31, 2013 at 8:21 pm

THis is SO stinking cool!


Lauren January 31, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Awesome! Stopping by from MMS.


Liam January 31, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Ma… incredible. The art on the stairs blows me away. Such time commitment and creativity.
You (we) can look forward to your great-grandkids (ish) finding the time-capsule.



Arda McGarry February 1, 2013 at 4:46 am

Hi! I LOVE your stairs! I initially thought it was wallpaper! What a great way to use your talent – sharing it with anyone who ever walks in those doors! I’m Canadian too and a little sad about the penny, although it always seemed annoying to break a bill for a couple of cents. Now I’m a little sad about it. Great work, and hope the time capsule is eventually found!


Jody February 1, 2013 at 7:34 am

Fantastic job! What a work of art and to see it everyday, just beautiful!
Thanks for sharing at Simple & Sweet Fridays.



Bev February 1, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Hi! Stopping by from MMS.

Your stair case is stuning! I am so very jealous and inspired. We have a staircase in our house that just might getsuch wonderful treatment someday!

Thank you so much for sharing such beauty!


Sarah February 1, 2013 at 6:44 pm

What an amazing project! This is incredible and love the idea of the time capsule. We found one in our home when we remodeled in 1995. 😉


Kim (TheKimSixFix) February 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Wow.. that is beautiful. And I love the time capsule idea. Genius!


ngnrdgrl February 1, 2013 at 10:59 pm

I LOVE your time capsule. It would be so cool to buy a house, remodel and discover a secret treasure.

My co-worker discovered one in his house during a renovation. The former resident was an artist. My co-worker discovered a painting stashed behind a wall. It was marked 5 of 7, so there are 6 more treasures hidden through out the house. What fun!

The birch forest is divine. I would love to climb your stairs. The drawers at the bottom are a great way to offer storage in typically unused space.

Thank you for sharing this with us! I’m pinning this.


Susan February 2, 2013 at 5:20 am

WOW is all I can say, that is beautiful!


debra@ HOMESPUN February 2, 2013 at 5:52 am

How beautiful! This is amazing! 🙂


Diane February 2, 2013 at 6:03 am

What can I say? The trees painting– the time capsule– all fantastic!!


Sandi February 2, 2013 at 8:27 am

What a fabulous job you’ve done! I love the birch forest going up the stairs; great idea. I like your time capsule with the money too. Sometimes I wish they had left the bills as the coins do tend to take up room in one’s wallet and they can be heavy. Thank you for sharing with us at my HOME and enjoy your weekend.



Donna Huisinga February 2, 2013 at 9:02 am

This is a very ambitious project. It turned out great! Saw it over at Debbiedoo’s Pinterest Party.


Lisa Lynn February 2, 2013 at 9:10 am

Very cool! Found you on A Favorite Thing! I would love to have you share this tomorrow on The Creative HomeAcre Hop! Kicking it off on Superbowl Sunday…


Angela Conley February 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm

This is so creative and unique! I’d be tripping up those steps because I’d be too busy checking out the fine artwork! Very cool.


Claudia February 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Amazing. The detail and care you have given to every detail of your home is stunning. Love the stairs and the time capsule.



julie boarder February 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Wow! What a lot of effort you put into the stairs, they are amazing! Drawers, bakelite handles, the water tap, the art, the provincial flowers -it’s overwhelming that you even thought of all of that.

We found a newspaper from 1918 in our old house (I think it was part insulation and part what someone was reading when they were building, but we saved it and framed it. My husband wrote our names and the date behind some tongue and groove panelling in that house and he put a time capsule under the stairs in the foundation when we put the addition on our current house 10 years ago. So much fun to do and even more fun hopefully for someone to find one day.

I’m now following you!


Bethany @ A Fish Who Likes Flowers February 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm

That staircase is beautiful! And that a fun idea to put a time capsule in your house. Thank you for sharing!


Donna Wilkes February 3, 2013 at 8:08 am

This is such a clever use of space. The birch forest reaching up the stairs is a pleasant surprise. The memories sealed for the future is a great idea. Inside our second floor attic are notes from previous children who have lived in this house along with growth charts. We have carefully preserved these bits of history even though we do not know them.


Eileen February 3, 2013 at 11:24 am

Wow, what a fantastic makeover. I love the forest and the cool idea for a time capsule. Thanks for sharing your new steps. Have a happy Sunday and week ahead!


Pondside February 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I was stunned to see the painted stairs – what a surprise! I’m very happy to have come by via Mosaic Monday.


Valerie February 3, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I am in awe of your thinking process. What a wonderful idea and it looks great. Function meets style. Valerie


Snap February 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm

The staircase is amazing! Wow! I love the idea of a time capsule. What a fun post!


ellen b February 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Yikes! What an amazing project. Well done! hmmm…a time capsule. Maybe something important from each decade of my life so far that speaks to the times…


A Garden of Threads February 3, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Awesome, I love them. So different.


Mary February 3, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Oh my goodness, how wonderful! Your stairs are truly a work of art. And I loved reading all about your time capsule as well. Thanks so much for sharing at Mosaic Monday! 🙂


Julie February 3, 2013 at 3:47 pm

OMG I think your stairs are the most wonderful thing I’ve seen in ages. You are so talented!


Gail February 3, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Thank you, all, for your generous compliments.


Sally February 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I love this post! Your staircase and painting are so very lovely and I adore your time capsule idea. What fun that will be to find down the road!


Ann February 4, 2013 at 5:22 am

All I can say is WOW!!! You are incredibly talented and inspiring. I love this. Thanks for sharing at Restyled Sundays!


Nancy@livininthegreen February 4, 2013 at 12:12 pm

LOVE this makeover! Reusing old materials and the drawers are awesome…the painting is so fun. This is great!


Suzy February 5, 2013 at 5:02 am

The stairs are amazing but I’m sure time-consuming to paint! I love the time capsule idea. We re-did a 150 year old house when we first married and only found an old hammer and plenty of square head nails!


the cape on the corner February 5, 2013 at 7:18 am

not only does this look amazing, but that secret storage/capsule is amazing, too!


Cindy February 5, 2013 at 8:44 am

Unbelievable! And using the stairs for storage? Genius!


Haworth February 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

What a stunning staircase! Such a lot of work, but so very beautiful. Those drawers in the stairs are genius, and the painting is so whimsical … just lovely!


Jana February 5, 2013 at 6:33 pm

That is about the neatest project I’ve ever seen. Just LOVE it!! I can tell you put a lot of time, effort and love into this project.
Very neat idea with the Time Capsule. We did a similar thing when we built our home, except for it’s hide inside one of the interior walls.


Gail February 5, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Ah, you’re very kind (all of you, commenters!)
It was sure a fun project for me. Interesting, to me at least, is that building the stairs and risers, with all the fiddly details of rebuilding, refinishing, cutting, fitting, filling, sanding, etc. took longer than painting the birch forest, by a factor of about 5! The creative part went quickly! 2 days, tops.


Marigene February 6, 2013 at 6:29 am

Your stairway is amazing…I can’t imagine how long it took to paint each of the risers or the awkward positions you had to contort yourself into! Thanks for sharing.


Gail February 6, 2013 at 9:07 am

No, Marigene, no contortions! I cut all the risers, then painted them in my studio before the final install. This was a new set of stairs we replaced the old construction stairs with.


Sharon February 7, 2013 at 7:03 pm

This is so creative and wonderful. All of it! So glad I saw this over at the Shabby Nest. Sharon


Debbie Christianson February 8, 2013 at 6:41 am

Wow. Really. Wow. Just amazing.


The Busy Bee's February 8, 2013 at 8:45 am

This is so inspiring!! What a beautiful job, perfect in every way.

We would like to invite you to share this with our readers at our link party that went live yesterday.

The Busy Bee’s,
Myrna and Joye.



Christine @ Let's Get Crafty! February 8, 2013 at 10:55 am

WOW! Amazing talent! Love them!


Katie B. of HousewifeHowTos.com February 10, 2013 at 10:38 am

What a fantastic project, and such a dramatic transformation of your staircase! I was so impressed that I dragged my husband to the monitor and made him look at this. We’re looking forward to redoing our basement stairs now. Thanks!


Betsy February 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm

This is incredible! I love the time capsule story and the entire transformation. Saw you featured at Cozy Little House.


Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. February 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Love the time capsule idea and those stairs are stunning!


Jenny February 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I can not even imagine how much work this project must have been! But a labor of love none the less 🙂 It looks beautiful and peaceful on your stairs. All my best…Jenny >…


Heather Jackson February 13, 2013 at 4:51 am

I just wanted to stop in and say “congratulations!” This is the featured post this week at the Farmhouse Style Blog Hop! Thanks for sharing it. I have stair envy now!! Feel free to grab a “featured” button. http://www.greeneggsandgoats.com


Paula Malone February 24, 2013 at 9:58 am

Found this when looking for ideas & inspiration for my own stairs that are currently orangey varnished, that we inherited when we bought the house. I’ve started sanding them to paint the edges, then for some kind of coir carpeting on the treads. Your stairs are fantastic, a real labour of love of the house. I loved the idea of the drawers and the time capsule which I’d love to find on the one of houses that I’m renovating one day as I often wonder about the history of the houses and how things were originally and then changed over the years. Thank you for sharing this.


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