Staircase nook photo wall

July 31, 2013

We have a little ledge/nook/cut out spot in the basement staircase that has been sitting half way done for that year and a few months:

You may remember that I installed a wood wall on the main wall in the staircase about this time last year. I still LOVE that wall. So very much.

Before we had the basement finished the wall next to it going down the steps had a weird cement wall bump out thing. Instead of drywalling all the way up I asked them to make it a little ledge instead. They installed a wood piece that I was planning on painting later, hence the stain spatter I didn’t worry about:

But since then I’ve decided I wanted it stained instead. I’m kind of obsessed with the look of the dark wood against the gray blue walls (Marina Gray by Ben Moore) and white trim down there.

So I needed to sand off that stamp and the stain dots:

sanding before staining

It just took a few seconds and I was ready to go – then I taped everything off with my Frogtape really well. I find it’s hard to keep stain from going everywhere since it leaks easily and spatters all over the place. (It could be the operator, who knows.):

prepping for stain

After I wiped everything down well (and let it dry), I grabbed my dark walnut stain and went at it:

how to stain

Remember when you stain to work quickly and to keep the “wet edge” – if it dries at all during the process you’ll see where you left off. OH, and wear gloves!! Trust me – no matter how hard I try I always end up with stain on my hands.

I let it sit for a few minutes and wiped the excess off. I only usually do one coat – I find that’s plenty for the color I want.

While it dried I started hanging the frames I’ve had leaning there forever. Most of them are pics from the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade/NYC trip I showed you here, but there was one collage my stepdaughter gave us last Christmas (so sweet!) that I wanted to include too.

Here’s a little tip when hanging pics that have two hangers instead of one – just tie a piece of string or wire between the two:

hanging picture without a level

Then hang that on the the nail. SO much easier. I mean, sometimes what you’re hanging is heavy enough you’ll want two nails, but most of the time I find one is just fine. And this way you don’t have to worry about measuring, finding a level, all that stuff. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Like all of my gallery walls, I just kind of put stuff here and there – yes, that meant a few extra holes in the wall but they’re tiny. The wall will survive:

matching frames gallery wall

I was trying to use frames that I had on hand and I liked the (mostly) matching frames, so I didn’t go crazy trying to fill empty spaces. The “S” we’ve had for years and it perfectly filled one spot that was bugging me.

The ledge has plenty of room for accessories, but for now I just left a couple candlesticks we had here before (they ended up on there because I was too lazy to take them all the way to the storage room):

matching frames gallery wall

They are fake candles and they operate on a timer, so it’s kind of cool to have that little glow as we walk down at night.

It was a quick project and I think it turned out pretty cute! I love how it looks with the planked wall:

wood planked wall

Next up in this space – touch up the wall and ceiling paint and install chunkier baseboards. Maybe I’ll tackle those in another year. Baby steps.

So are you loving gallery walls? I am and I don’t think they’re going anywhere soon. It’s such a personal, easy way to fill wall space! And remember you can find frames at Goodwill for super cheap and spray paint them. One color for all of them will unify frames no matter their design. 

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  1. I agree, it works perfectly against the planked wall. Nice. Jamie

  2. Looks great! Love the stained platform. See you tomorrow! Can't wait!

  3. Great tip for hanging picture frames with two hooks! I will certainly be using that. Looks great!

  4. Gallery walls are my favorite! I can't seem to live without them now. I'm actually trying not to overdo them 'cause I have enough stuff to put one in every room!

  5. Okay seriously - tie a string between the two hooks - so easy!! I cannot tell you how many times I have pulled my hair out along with many nails trying to get a picture straight and trying to get both those hooks on their nails!! Life changing!! Oh, and I love the gallery wall and the ledge :)

  6. I don't know why this projects strikes such a cord with me, but I love it. It's such a personal little nook that will make you happy each time you pass it. The candles are great, too. And I love adding something like a monogram to a gallery wall - makes it more personal. You made this look and sound so easy...Good job!

  7. Such a clever idea and what a great use of space. It looks amazing.

    Mel's Corner

  8. Wish I had a little ledge to make magnificent! Thanks for the tip on hanging the photo with just one nail, you're right, it saves having to level AND puts less holes in the wall. It's one of those "why didn't I think of that" moments. :)

  9. Sarah, you are my idol!!! You show me every day that even small changes and upgrades make huge differences! Thanks for inspiring me!!!

    Lakeside, CA

  10. Looks awesome! You probably know this, but cooking oil, vegetable or canola, take stain right off of skin. Then just soap to take the oil off. I have a bottle of oil just for this purpose...I know I should just glove up, but what's the fun in that?!

  11. Great job as always! I love gallery walls too!

  12. totally not the point of your post, but....fake candles on timers!? awesome! :)

  13. Beautiful! Hope you had a safe flight here!! Sorry to miss the conference this year.

  14. Great work on that Nook, it looks so much leaner and inviting now!

  15. The shelf is neat, paired up with that wooden wall it all looks magnificent!

  16. Genius tip with the string/wire. I HATE frames with two hangers, but no more!

  17. I love it. I have lots of beautiful pictures with my family. I will build gallery wall. Your tips will help me in my project.
    Renovation Bayside

  18. Oh my goodness! I love how this area turned out! Good tip with working fast with stain, it always dries on me and I can always see where I left off and where I started again. Grrrr

  19. Hi! I really love your dark planked wall and white and gray paint. LOVE it!! The gallery wall is so cute in that space but my question is do you just buy pre-made matting for these pics or do you have them done? Framing and matting is SO expensive. I would definitely get the frames and paint them like you said, but I wasn't sure if they made mats in different shapes and sizes. And can you cut them with an exacto? or is that kind of tricky? Thanks.


  20. Looks great, Sarah. See you in a few hours, I hope! :)

  21. We have a couple of walls on a staircase similar to this in our home and I love it!! It always causes me to slow down from my normally rushed pace and pause to remember good times :) I especially love the tip for hanging a frame with 2 hangers - brilliant!

  22. If all spiral Staircases have one thing in common, it is the fact that they stretch from one floor to another in a circular fashion.

  23. New follower! I love this blog, and I love this post!

  24. I love that tip about the frames! I am SO going to try that!


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