One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Week One – The Stairwell

Ok, so I’m WAY outside of my comfort zone right now. I’ve signed myself up to the most gruelling of online interior makeover challenges: the One Room Challenge. This is the equivalent of starting out as an amateur powerwalker and then immediately signing myself up for the Iron Man Ultramarathon. I’m not even exaggerating. I’ll likely end up wheezing on the sidelines for even daring to compete with the best of the best in the interior blog world, but dang it, I’m gonna try!

So hi! Hello! Are you new here? Me too! I’m Danielle, and I’m a jack of all design trades. I’ve worked in graphic design, web design, branding, marketing, packaging, video games, merchandising, staging, interior design – all the things! I’m a visual person and I enjoy surrounding myself and others with beautiful design of all kinds. You’ve probably found me via the One Room Challenge, but if not go and check it out. It’s brilliant and inspiring every time it happens.


So let’s dive into this: The basic premise of the One Room Challenge is to pick a space and make it over in 6 weeks. Well, five really, because the sixth week is the Big Reveal. It’s my first time participating and I’ve chosen an interesting space to tackle: my stairwell.

First of all let me hit you with some inspiration:

Bam. Brilliant, engaging, interesting staircase.
Credit: Brooke Astor’s Holly Hill Estate


Boom. Simple, modern yet period sensitive, interesting. Bring it on.
Credit: The McQuades via Design*Sponge


Now that I’ve dazzled you with the inspo (so pretty!) let me totally underwhelm you with the Before pictures. Just imagine a sad trombone sound here:






Womp womp. It’s woeful. Let me count the ways:

  • The Lowest Landing. Aptly named. Basically you enter at the Lowest Landing, go up a flight, turn on the Middle Landing and go up another flight to arrive at the Top Landing and my apartment. The Lowest Landing also leads straight into my tenant’s downstairs apartment. It is frequented by people and doggos and snow and mud and it needs some serious help. I always planned to tile it, and after a full winter of torment it is READY for said tiles.
  • Stair treads and the middle/top landings were refinished when I first bought the house and had the floors redone in my upstairs apartment. However: the Lowest Landing and the stair risers have basically been ignored since that time. They are in a very sad state indeed.
  • Speaking of the stairs: in the past someone took to those antique spindles with let’s just say, an aggressive sanding technique. They are bruised and battered but (I hope!) not beyond repair. On my Instagram @macrokilla described them as being “sanded with a rasp…anything can be fixed #100hourslater“. Looks like I’ve got about 100 hours of gentle sanding ahead of me in these next 6 weeks…
  • The vast Nothingness of the Main Wall. You enter, you walk up a flight of stairs, you encounter a window and then… the Nothingness… until the ceiling waaaaaaaaay up there. You know how in The Neverending Story Fantasia was being devoured by the Nothing? Yeah, that’s happening – in my stairwell. Also it’s yellow. Noone likes a yellow Nothingness.
  • The shoe situation on the Top Landing (outside my apartment door). Carrie Bradshaw ain’t got nothing on me. This is actually a small collection of just the most recently worn shoes, piled high and generally causing mischief.
  • The coats. Oh my god the coats. To be fair, I live in the north east: it’s still snowing in April. I need the coats but also I hate the coats. Soooo many coats and scarves and cold weather accoutrement weighing down that poor coat rack. Gotta sort that shiz out.


Here is my plan of attack for the next 6 weeks (in no particular order):

  • Tile the Lower Landing
  • Paint the entrance door, downstairs apartment door and upstairs apartment door
  • Add decorative molding to the main staircase area and carry it around the stairwell space
  • Gently sand and restore the staircase… for #100hours
  • Paint all the trim, spindles and stair risers
  • Stain the handrails and newel posts
  • Change out the lighting and lightswitches
  • Paint all the walls above the trim and molding
  • Finally overcome the Nothing and make a Something out of the main wall
  • Switch out the sad roller blind on the Top Landing for something better (or nothing at all!)
  • Add (built in?) seating and shoe storage to the Top Landing
  • Add better coat organization of some sort
  • Decorate and generally prettify the whole space

It sounds relatively easy but also I’m quaking in my boots at the thought of getting this all done in 6 weeks whilst also maintaining my demanding full time job and general adulting. I’m either going to succeed spectacularly or fail miserably – but either way it should be entertaining! Stay tuned!

I’ll be pinning the ORC over here and ‘gramming over here. Go check out the other guest participants, featured designers or just click the logo below for all the ORC goodness!


One Room Challenge Guest Participant

3 Replies to “One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Week One – The Stairwell”

  1. How have I not read this blog before now??? Here am I am in Sydney, living off Channel 94 Lifestyle renovation scraps, when I could have been living vicariously through my ridiculously talented, brave, creative and totally hot niece in her exquisite house! There is literally nothing about your design decisions so far that I haven’t loved. You’re fabulous, daaarling! xxx

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