Monday, April 22, 2013

Tale of Two Stairwells

There were a few places I strategically skipped when we were house touring back in October. One thing we breezed past were stairwells. While the one going upstairs was well on it's way, the one going down to the basement...well, let's just say, love hadn't come into its life yet. Not so anymore! We got a jolt of motivation because we're planning to transition from our minivan to an economy car. Without baby gear, we're ready to lose some space and save some gas. Besides the fact that I think zipping around town in a small car is grand. If we find one small enough, our made-with-a-model T-in-mind garage will be back in car-housing business. How's this relevant you ask? It means we'll enter through the back door rather than the front and this back door enters a landing in the middle of our stairwell. 

When you see how small this stairwell is, you'll see it needed thoughtful planning to do all we need it to. It'll house hats, gloves, jackets, coats and, since we don't wear shoes in the house, the kids' shoes. It's a tall order and I think the space'll feel crowded just with us all in it simultaneously, so while in Minneapolis for Easter weekend, I grabbed some things from Ikea to use space efficiently and give us something happy to look at while we trip over each other. 

Going up...
But lets start with the staircase going up. I spent quite a while collecting black and white frames and printing portraits and candid photos in black and white or sepia. Some have mats, some don't. I arranged them on the floor and then we hung them with the niftiest tool I've ever made. (Okay, only tool I've made.) It's a piece of wood that has a nail driven partway through the end, far enough that it sticks out on both sides of the wood. I hang my picture on the head of the nail and put it where I want it on the wall. Then I press the point of the nail into the wall enough to make a mark so I know exactly where I need to drive my nail. No measuring down to the hanger on each frame. It's a serious time saver. I paired this with a level and the hanging went pretty smoothly. Except for the time we realized our photos were getting closer and closer to the ceiling. If you'd like to do this, be sure the distance from the bottom of your frames to the floor remains visually equal. 

Because they're hung above stairs, which the kids bound up and down daily, the frames were always crooked. I used 3M sticky stuff - meant for actually hanging frames, to force the frames to stay where I wanted them. No more shaking around. If crooked art bothers you and you're not planning on changing anything soon, I'd recommend this. Especially since 3M is supposed to come off nicely and not damage your wall. 

Our photos don't reach all the way up the stairs, so we hope to add more as time goes on. The old photo (top right) is of my great grandma who was a twin. She's sitting with her twin sister on her older sister's lap (not her mother) because that's just how many kids they had. Wowza! Anyway, I love that my kids can see the last set of twins in our family before them. That photo of the dining room reminds me, I'm tweaking it right now! I finally found curtains I'm satisfied with, so I'll be revealing that soon. My projects tend to have babies. 

Going down...
Here's how our slighted stairwell looks now. I didn't get befores taken, but it was pretty much the white crates on the shelf and a plaque with six hat/coat hooks coming out of it. which stuck out pretty far so we're happy with these slim replacements. The dry-erase board was there too, which serves as my honey-do list and the kids' Bible verse to memorize. The basket I later "dipped" in aqua holds our markers and eraser. I knew I wanted the kids' art all over (but didn't buy nearly enough frames) and we had two vintage books falling apart so badly it was a pain to read them. I decided to frame some favorite pages. I plan to take the art up the wall, but right now, we have no light fixture to help us see it. I'd love to do something about that in the future. Maybe something like this awesome egg crate creation.

And here's the view coming up the stairs...

This wall works hard, holding my sunglasses, keys, and such on the hooks, mittens and hats in the two cubbies, and giving me a final hair check with the mirror at the perfect height. More kids' art can be changed out on the magnet board and I'm thrilled to mark off another Pinterest project: magnet buttons. I'm a big fan of buttons and don't want to just collect them. This gets them out where we can see and enjoy them. We'll need a shoe basket to fit in the corner, but for now, we're just glad to have the giant recycling basket out of there. (It's actually a hamper with a fabric liner that's now under our kitchen island.) See? It's just that kind of reshuffling that leads to project babies...

Check back soon to see dining room, and maybe even some kitchen tweaking!