How do I lighten up this basement stairway?

by Lyn31304920

We use this stairway quite a bit and It's dark with paneling. I would like to lighten up and add a little decor to make it more appealing? It gets really hot also.

This ceiling at highest point It's about 12 feet.

  14 answers
  • I would paint the paneled walls a lighter color, and perhaps leave the handrail as is for a bit of contrast. The you hang up framed black and white family photos or painted canvases on the walls. I can't quite tell what material the stairs are, but if they're not carpeted, you could paint the risers a fun color or even put heavy duty wallpaper on them.

  • AmAtHome AmAtHome on Aug 22, 2018

    You could paint the paneling, or fill in the grooves and then paint. You could remove it, I don't want to assume you plan to leave it up! We had a room in a former house that had similar panel, and we ended up using the paintable texture wallpaper to cover it. I liked how it looked and it didn't show any of the grooves. If you can install a ceiling fan at the top of the stairs that might help with the heat.

  • William William on Aug 22, 2018


    Make sure the paneling is clean and dry. Prime with a good stain blocking primer like Zinsser 123, BIN or Kilz. Then paint like painting regular walls. Acrilyc latex paint will work. If the paneling has grooves you can fill them with non shrink drywall patching compound. Just put on enough to fill the grooves. Let it dry overnight. Next day use a damp sponge to smooth the patch. Then prime and paint.

  • Lisa Hunt Lisa Hunt on Aug 23, 2018

    Definitely paint is a good option. You could also choose a bright wallpaper pattern to give it some interest. Maybe a chandelier, depending on where the light is.

    Not sure if you have a power outlet nearby, but this faux window idea could work:

  • Stephen Canas Stephen Canas on Aug 23, 2018

    Sconces! This is the Appropriate way to light up a panneled stairway. It makes it fit and shows a professional touch. It will require 3 people , fishtape to rewire, 8 junction boxes , 2 2way wall switches, 6 wall lighting sconces of your taste that matches the woodsy appearance of the panneling (1 for lower stair landing , 2 complimentary (opposite each other) lower quarter of stairs , 2 complimentary upper quarter of stairs, then at the very top stair landing 1 lighting sconce to light the top landing area. Wire top and bottom double pole double throw , in parraell. Use fishtape to run the wiring between the junction boxes you cut accesses to. And you will probably need a electrican to do this for you unless you got a Swiss army handiman arround your home. If he is a disaster waiting to happen use a diy stores installation people. They can make sure you don't spend any more than you need.

  • Lora Taylor Hyatt Lora Taylor Hyatt on Aug 23, 2018

    Paint , ceiling fan, led light strips, wallpaper, the possibilities are endless

  • Lisa Thomas Sweeney Lisa Thomas Sweeney on Aug 23, 2018

    Durable Paint in a light color would be great. Step lights in the risers is a great effect. If possible you could open your wall near the bottom of your staircase. Make sure it is not load bearing or replace with a truss.

  • Paint the paneling or remove part of the wall and put a railing.

  • Deborah Perrin Deborah Perrin on Aug 23, 2018

    Ceiling fan to replace the light fixture, paint the paneling - prime first - or remove it & paint the wall. LED light strips along the wall behind the railing - or, add a piece of trim to angle along the steps & put the light strip there - makes it easier to see your steps!

  • Ellis Ellis on Sep 22, 2018

    I painted my paneled stairwell and basement a very light gray, and used a gray-blue for contrast on doors and trim. It looked like a different, brand new space. I just dusted and cleaned the walls first, then a coat of primer, finally the top coat. The grooves in the paneling were no problem, just paint right over them.

  • Fiddledd224 Fiddledd224 on Sep 22, 2018

    Use a high gloss paint in a light color. If you can change a light fixture to a brighter one, this will make the shiny surface of the glossy paint more reflective = more light.

  • Xenia Hardenbrook Xenia Hardenbrook on Sep 22, 2018

    I agree with everyone, paint it light and bright! And I love to use mirrors. They bounce the light around and make the room look 2x as big!

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Sep 22, 2018

    Paint the paneling a nice color tan

  • Mindy D. Mindy D. on Sep 22, 2018

    Paint, paint, paint