Marimekko Stair Transformation

10 Materials
$75
2 Days
Easy

I didn't like the boring beige carpet on my stairs it was just a dust and dirt trap. I decided to give my hallway the wow factor by ripping up the carpet off the stairs and wallpapering them. Now they make me smile every time I open the front door.
I have a bit of a thing about Marimekko the Finnish textile designers, especially their iconic UNIKKO poppy print. Therefore I decided that I would use Marimekko wallpaper for my stairs.

Before wallpapering the stairs I had to remove the old carpet. As the stairs were going to still be in constant use, I cut the carpet and removed it one step at a time. That is so that I could insure all carpet grippers and nails were removed before people started walking on the stairs. I just used a stanley knife, claw hammer and pliers to do this.
Next using a heat gun and a scrapper I removed the paint off the top of the steps. I then sanded them down with a hand electrical sander. As I was going to be wallpapering the risers, I didn't need to strip the paint off these.
I then varnished each step with 2 coats of varnish. This took a little while as the steps were in constant use. They are old victorian steps which are rather steep so I couldn't varnish every other step whilst in use. Instead I varnished down one half and then the other when that half was dry.
To prepare the risers for wallpapering I keyed them by covering them in wallpaper paste and then leaving them to dry. This helps the wallpaper adhere to the wood.
I cut the wallpaper to the size of each riser. You will need to think carefully about what wallpaper you use and how the pattern flows. The wallpaper I chose worked just as well either way up. Which meant that I could cut my wallpaper length ways and thus avoid any joins on the steps.
I used wallpaper paste to attach each piece to each step, positioning it carefully and using a damp sponge to make sure the wallpaper went into any groves. There are a few more details on my blog.
I also gave my banister and railings a fresh coat of paint. I painted the banister blue to match the wallpaper. I noticed my old white banister got grubby really easily and I was hoping this wouldn't happen with the blue one.
I love my new fresh bright looking hallway. The great thing about this is that now that I have done all the prep work it will be very easy to change the wallpaper if ever I feel like something different. I don't see that happening for a while. I use a lot of wallpaper to upcycle with in my house ( click here to see them), but funnily enough I don't have much on my walls.
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Claire at Pillarboxblue

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 11 questions
  • Marie Poisson
    Marie Poisson
    on Nov 12, 2017

    It's gorgeous! I was wondering did you also pain the wall?
  • Evette Carrao King
    Evette Carrao King
    on Aug 7, 2018

    How does the wallpaper on the light shade hold up with the heat from the bulbs?

  • Debbie Fortin Miranda
    Debbie Fortin Miranda
    on Aug 13, 2020

    will the wallpaper last with shoes kicking it etc? What type did you use? I’m thinking something very heavy duty. After all that work, I’d want to know this was going to last a long time. Great idea tho

    • Claire at Pillarboxblue
      Claire at Pillarboxblue
      on Aug 13, 2020

      I did this a couple of years ago and the wallpaper still looks very good. But we don’t wear shoes in the house so that probably helps. I just used normal wallpaper.

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