Stairwell Decorating Ideas

Now that the backdrop is done, I’ve been dreaming about how we can inject some cottage-style personality into our (blank slate, not-quite-finished) stairwell:

Stairwell Canvas

(Don’t mind that orange-toned stair tread…that baby will be re-stained a darker, more neutral brown very soon!)

That (currently unpainted) door opens into a hallway that leads back to our bedroom, and I haven’t painted it yet because I’d love to replace it with an old office door. Maybe something like this:

Old office door | frosted glass

And maybe if I can’t find a door that has frosted glass and lettering already on it, I could add my own to a door like this:

Old Blue Office Door

Here’s a photo I put together in Photoshop that shows what that would *sort of* look like:

Stairwell Idea 8

(Obviously, I would use a different name or phrase on there- ha!)

As you can see, I popped a few other ideas onto the photo as well. I’d love to make the most out of the wall to the left of the door by using some kind of (shallow) cabinet on the floor there, and a (tall) mirror on the wall above it. You can never have too much storage or natural light, right? :-D

Here are a few of the other color combos I played around with in Photoshop last night:

Stairwell Idea 1

Stairwell Idea 2

Stairwell Idea 3

Stairwell Idea 4

Stairwell Idea 7

The colors, doors, rug and furniture are all just ideas- not necessarily exact pieces we’ll use in there. I just like to play around with things this way because it helps me narrow my options. For instance, seeing those photos helps me to know that I’m definitely more drawn to using a white cabinet and a colorful door. I wanted to make sure Kevin felt the same way though, so I sat him down in front of this post last night and said, “Scroll.” When he got to the end, I said “which one(s) do you like the best?“. He didn’t have a favorite, (because he was fond of all three) but he was definitely more drawn to the pictures with painted doors. Whew! I love it when we lock in like that! :-D

Anywho, I’m happy to have a (flexible) plan for that spot now. My mission this month: To  hunt for an old door that’s the right size for that spot!

PS- If you’d like to check out the footage we filmed while we were working on the backdrop this space, head on over to The Design Network. My third episode is up today, and it’s all about preparing the stairwell and Sweet P’s bedroom for the furniture and fun stuff! :-)

The Lettered Cottage | The Design Network

*Mirror and rug links are affiliate links.

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  1. says

    Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who likes those old business doors! I saw one for an old clock repair shop and I think there was a mail slot in it too and pointed it out to the Mr and he’s like “uhh, we don’t repair watches.” I wanted to give him a firm head smack and say “are you NEW here!?!” I wish I had the room to put it in our place but it sure would look great in yours!

    • says

      LOL @ are you new here?
      You don’t mind if I share that, do you?
      I usually say, “Do you even KNOW me?” at times like this!

    • Mah says

      You are so funny! (How would your husband like to have a barn full of old doors and windows, from house and businesses! When we bought our old house that was one of the wonderful things we found.)

  2. says

    Love the yellow door! We’re building a house right now and I’ve been wanting to do something like this for the door to the pantry. Just haven’t decided what exactly!

  3. says

    Loving the vintage door with frosted glass + lettering!
    We plan to do something similar with our powder room door.
    (Still planning what word/words to use!)

  4. says

    Hello! I just purchased an old office door with frosted glass to use on a track for our master closet. I’d love to put some ‘branding’ on it, whether it’s ‘dressing room’ or something generic and old-fashioned-looking. Just curious – if you do your own lettering, will you hand paint it, use adhesive vinyl, or accomplish it some other way?

  5. Sandy A says

    I just love your plan for a Business Door–especially the light blue one with the white cabinet and the rug is perfect! Can’t wait to see what you choose to do…

  6. says

    What a fab idea, will bring in more light to the stairwell as well as looking amazing. Have been following this make over and have loved everything you have done.x

    • Layla says

      Yes! Lucy (from Southern Accents) is actually on the hunt for us already, too! She helped us find the other old doors we used in Sweet P’s room and we’re always so grateful for her (and Garlan’s) help when it comes to finding the best salvaged stuff! :-D

  7. says

    Wonderful ideas! To add the cottage charm you must have a D&A rug!! Love those! And they have the cutest plaid/check ones. Love the look you’re going for.

  8. Teddee Grace says

    Am I correct in thinking the sliding door to the left is the door to your soon-to-be son’s bedroom? So if this is the door to your bedroom you’ll want to keep in mind it will be what he first sees when he comes out of his room and what will represent you. I wonder what his favorite color is? Just something else to throw into the mix!

  9. says

    I love that you included your hubby in the action! I did some inspiration boards when we started desigining the layout and look of our first home, and it was so helpful to know when we were on the same page and when I needed to adjust (or he needed to trust). And he totally helped me think about scale…which wasn’t on my radar, but would’ve been a problem reeeeal quick when that giant fab sofa took up half the room. Haha. And I’m partical to the green door. ;)

  10. hello haha harf says

    would that green cabinet be too much with the pale blue door? (am i color crazy today?)
    that old richard hill office door is spectacular. totally in love with it. thanks for making me want to replace all my doors!

  11. says

    I love old doors like the ones you picture – they make me long to see what is on the other side :) Your ideas are the best !

  12. Kim Johnson says

    The light blue/gray door is almost the exact same door that I have on my studio! I have never seen another one like it! Love it!

  13. says

    I am working on our staircase now as well. The stairs themselves & the walls. I am hoping to tear up the carpet, re-stain & maybe paint the risers a pop-py color. I love the second version you showed for your landing.
    Come on by … I have a wonderful handmade necklace up for grabs now. Made by my dear friend & artist, Jill Fagin.

    Good luck with the stair landing!

  14. Lynn D says

    Love the white cabinet with the green cabinet. Check Joss and Main for the cabinet. I found a couple that are similar that we’re only 12-13 inches deep. Good luck.

  15. Julia G. says

    I love your ideas, they certainly get the inspiration juices flowing. I would not have thought about the old door, but I believe I will now be looking for one!

  16. Laurie says

    They are all adorable…you are so gifted! My favs are the peaceful pale blue and the cute green…but then again the yellow is just so cheery!! So fun that little hands will soon be turning the doorknob : )

  17. says

    I love your ideas! and a more decorative door would look amazing! I also like the idea of the narrow little cabinet with mirror in the landing area as well. perfect!!

  18. julie says

    I wish I could hire you to come to our house and help me with ideas!! I love everything you put together!

  19. says

    I loved them all but my definite favorite is the yellow door. I don’t know if it was the color, or the clear glass with the white sheer behind. But it made me say, “Yes.”

  20. says

    I think it would be GREAT fun to paint the step risers the same accent color you use on the hall table or door…..which I hope is the ornate one.

  21. Martha says

    I love the colored door too! I think the curtains in the yellow door are great, but I am definitely more partial to the green!

  22. Donna Doble-Brown says

    Layla, I loved when you showed the door as green and the cabinet a version of white! How fun would that be at the top of the stairs???? I love how it’s all turning out for you . . . . The video was FABULOUS today! I will go back on and like . . . Didn’t have time earlier . . . Stay well you two! :)

    • Layla says

      Thank you so much, Donna! I love the green door/white cabinet, too! I guess we’ll just see what kinds of doors I can find and go from there! Thanks for swinging by today…and for the compliment on the video, too! :-)

  23. says

    rgh is the one….I vote for. More impact if that is what you need in the spot. Love the door and the charcoal accent with it,,,,until you decide to change, again. Smiles

  24. Dawn says


    I love the video! Seeing all of the elements come together is awesome! I loved getting to see Kit Cat and Max in the video too. Hearing your voice is so sweet. It makes me read your words in your beautiful accent now. Thanks for sharing! Keep up the great job!

    • Layla says

      Thank you, Dawn! I am dying to know what kind of accent I have! :-D Are you hearing Northern, or Southern?

      • Dawn says

        I hear southern for sure! I am from Missouri and I am told that I have slight southern sounding accent. To my ears you sound truly southern and I love it!

  25. kate says

    My favorite was the dark door and grey dresser. They set the backdrop for bright accessories that can be changed by season. Of course after Sweet P starts walking (if not already) things on top of the dresser will probably disappear for awhile. I found it easier to store breakables and then bring them back out when our daughter was older than to constantly have to worry or say “don’t touch.”

    • Layla says

      Hi Kate! Sweet P is actually going on 3 this year, so he’s toddling around down there like a busy little bee! :-D We’re hoping to use a cabinet that is tall enough to keep things out of reach there, but we’ll definitely display non-breakable there next year- LOL! :-D

  26. Carlie says

    I love how you use photoshop to put everything together. I have a hard time visualizing things and love how you can create your room right on the computer! I love the yellow door. You have inspired me to try something like it when we redo our home. I actually really like the green cabinet too and may mix that with the yellow door. Thanks for the inspiration!

  27. LouFarrington says

    With a wee one soon to come, I am interested to see how you deal with “kiddie gates”.

  28. Gwen says

    Isn’t planning and dreaming half or more than half the fun?!! I don’t think I’ve ever done much of that inside my home but I have with my yard…but I love all your ideas and so do not be influenced by my story but it shows the power of color for-ev-ER…I’m scrolling through your ideas and up came the green door and I immediately thought Dentist. Did my childhood dentist have a green door like that? Probably!! It was long ago and he was quite old, near the end of his practice so I’m sure his door would now be 100 years old if it were still there!!! It’s funny that I kind of jumped and shook my head to the green door but I’m sure, I’m doubly sure, absolutely no one has ever had a dentist with a green door like that so you’ll look hip and in style and no one will think dentist chair I’m 100% positive!!! Now may you have great fun finding the door!!! It’s a clever and fun thing to put there!!!!

  29. says

    First I love the look of the office door. Second I totally learned something new today! Using Photoshop to test colors and other elements of decorating is brilliant! Don’t know why it never occurred to me before. LOL

  30. says

    I wish I had an area to use a fun accent door like this. My home has such small proportions I feel like it might look a little too ‘bitsy’ (if ya know what I mean). So, for me, I kinda like the continuity of matching doors.
    Layla, I ADORE that yellow pop, though would love it even more teamed with rustic timber instead of white. Perhaps a timber door and a yellow cabinet?

  31. Angela Williams says

    I agree with you! Love, love, love the colored doors!!!! I wish you could come and “prettify” my house :). You make it seem so easy!

  32. says

    I vote for the Optometry door! (Because I’m an optometrist!) We need to find something like that for our house! You have the best ideas!

  33. Sarah Venn says

    I love the first and the second pic! It looks so good! I would have never thought to use a door like that as an interior door! Now you have my wheels turning for our house! I love the inspiration you give me!

    Quick question…have you done a tutorial on how you make images like this in photoshop? If you have, can you point me in the right direction on your blog? I’m such a visual person and I have so many ideas for our home, but it would really help me to see the options like you have done in the post above.

    Thanks for all that you do!

    • Layla says

      Thanks, Sarah! And, yes, if you click on any of the Photoshop links in this post, you’ll be re-directed to my class over at! :-)

  34. Colette J. says

    I really love this idea. The first pic with the blue door is my fave. Can’t wait to see what you end up with!

  35. says

    Lovin this part of the process – once again have my head thinking about a blank space in my house that could use a little “new, old character”!

  36. Cindy says

    I love your ideas! I agree that the ones with the painted doors are great but I’m also really liking the stained door with the green cabinet.

  37. MimiG says

    Love, love the green door. One thing I will suggest is be very careful of your rug placement next to the stairs. We had a similar set up when my youngest was 3 1/2. He was running, slid on the rug to the stairs and fell down about 4 steps before stopping. An ER trip for that one and some stitches. I immediately took the rug to the garage… And, I refused to let them wear socks in the house. They wanted to try to skate everywhere. ;-)

    • Layla says

      Great point, Mimi! I hadn’t really planned on using a rug there, but it looked funny not to include one in the drawings for some reason. Maybe I’ll go back to my original plan after all! :-D

  38. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says

    I love the Richard Hill door!!!! LOVE it!!!!!! Look at that cute little mail slot. What fun would it be to have a mail slot with your young one. (once he learns to read and write). Great ideas all around!!!!
    I love your PHOTO SHOP!!!!!! Man, is that easier than shopping and dragging things home!!!!! I always have to squint and visualize!!!!! I’m actually good at visualizing color, but not exact furniture pieces or doors. Color and me, see eye to eye!!!!

  39. BRDLVRNH says

    I just saw that ensemble in a magazine 3 minutes prior to logging into your blog! I loved it in the book and love it more in your home!

  40. Leah: ) says

    Hey Layla!
    Wondering what you used to patch the doorway to Sweet P’s room? Also LOVE the planks – can’t tell how wide they are??
    Thanks so much!!! LOVE all of the updates!!!: )

    • Layla says

      Hi Leah! We used Bondo on the spots where the hinges were, and wood putty where the door latch was. (Just because the Bondo stuff was SO stinky!) :-D

  41. Christie says

    Love the door idea!! The yellow is my favorite! It’s so cheery and such a great compliment to the gray walls. I love old doors…can’t wait to see what you find!

  42. says

    Oh, I totally love that idea of a yellow door! That would look so happy, bright, fun and unexpected! :-) Can’t wait what you will come up with eventually, but it all looks so beautiful already!!
    Much love and hugs,
    Inge x

  43. Cyndi says

    I adore everything you do. I wish you lived in my part of the country so I could hire you to help me. Do you know anyone in NJ that you can recommend? :-). I’ve been in my 1926 home for almost 10 yrs and have lots to do and don’t know where to start.

  44. says

    I love this! I really like the white vanity with the blue or yellow door the most and I love the idea of an old office type door. :)

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