We have lived in this lovely old home (built in 1912) for almost three years now. It has a several details that are both charming and quaint. Curved doorways from room to room, picture rails in every room, worn and warm hardwood floors all make our house feel like a home. Prior to moving in the attic space was renovated to include a master suite. It is a clever use of space and a blessing for a family that wants to use every drop of square footage to our advantage. The stairway to our master haven is in the center of the house and is NOT one of those charming features I mentioned earlier. Built more than 100 years ago they are very steep. I walk by those old set of steps at least 100 times a day. I have finally decided to give them the face lift they deserve.
I have always been a fan of bringing color onto the naked pallet of a new home. Either by painting or wall papering a dramatic effect can be achieved at a small cost. With the carpeted stairway I was too afraid to paint and not sure I could settle on one wallpaper print I would want to stick with for any length of time. The solution? Starch and fabric.
This is a technique that renters and military housed in temporary quarters have known about for ages. With a little bit of home made starch and a bit of fabric you can crate the same effect of wallpapering or painting at a fraction of the cost, a fraction of the mess and with absolutely NO permanence.
I selected 12 different shades of the same tone of blue. I wanted to create an hombre effect putting the darkest color on the bottom riser and the lightest at the top.
By measuring the risers with a measuring tape I could cut each one out before starting. Adding it to the starch mixture and tugging it around on the riser will make the fabric stretch a little so have a pencil and a pair of scissors, exacto knife or a rotary blade ready to trim excess fabric away.
Now for the starch mixture. My formula comes from another blog, How About Orange. I have used it several times and have always gotten a wonderful result.
What You Need:
1/4 cup Corn Starch
1/2 cup Cold Water
4 cups Boiling Water
First mix the corn starch with the cold water. Using a whisk will help to mix the two together. I put the 4 cups of water in the microwave. When small bubbles appeared in the glass bowl I knew it was hot enough to use. Add the smaller mixture to the larger bowl of water. You will need to let this mixture cool before you work with it. Use this time to get your other supplies together.
What You Need:
Exacto Knife, Scissors or Rotary Cutter
Drop cloth for your stairs (if they are carpeted like mine)
A damp cloth to wipe up spills and drips
Credit card (I used my Starbucks card)
A smaller plastic bowl
The first and possibly most important step is vacuum! Once you get your fabric soaked in starch it will collect all of the hair and dirt you have left behind. Take your time to clean your stairs and wipe down your risers. You’ll thank me in the end! Cover the first step with a small cloth. Take the smaller plastic bowl and pour a portion of the large starch mixture into it. You can keep going back for more if you need to but trying to carry 4 1/2 cups of starch water around is not a good idea, trust me. Start at the highest step in the stairway. It is easier to work your way down backwards than it is to sit on a damp step and it also gives your a good view of your work from all angles on the way down.
Dip your first piece of fabric into your starch mixture. Make sure to saturate the entire cloth. Hold the dripping fabric above the bowl and run it through two of your fingers pressed tightly together to ring out as much excess starch as possible. Unfold or the fabric and stick it to the first riser. It will cling easily and you will notice bubbles under the surface of the fabric. This is where the plastic card comes in. Use it to rub the bubbles to the edges of the fabric smoothing it down. You will also find this tool helpful for pushing the corners of the fabric into place. Use your pencil to mark a line where any excess fabric over hangs. You can either cut it on the step with a straight blade or peel it away to cut it with scissors and then re-affix it to your riser.
It will take at least two hours to dry. This method is helpful for many reasons. Tired of one color? Just peel the fabric off the step, wipe the riser with a damp cloth and affix a different one. The fabric can then be washed and used again or for a different project.