Fixing A Dated Looking Entryway And Staircase

Charlene reached out to me on Facebook needing help with colour and styling in her entryway.  This is a newer build home in a cookie-cutter neighbourhood with lots of builder’s beige.

She has recently painted out the banister in a contrasting dark and white but was stuck on exactly what to do in order to make the entry look more dramatic.

Here’s what she had to say:

Contrary to the way my house looks now my taste is actually quite bold. I love colour and dark rich colour at that. My foyer has 17 foot ceilings and a couple of big windows as well as a ton of light coming through the door so I would really love to make that space more interesting with colour.

My kind of gal 🙂 

So while I normally would charge for a colour consultation and come over with my fan deck, I asked Charlene if it would be okay to use her project for social media purposes.  If she let me use her project as an example I’d do it pro bono.  She was stoked and sent over the photos needed for me to get to work.

Here’s what the entryway looks like now:

Builder beige carpet and tile.  Builder standard doors and trim.  And a greige paint that runs up the stairs.

A lot of people have this little nook in their front hallway that they don’t know what to do with.

Charlene had a bench and a mirror there before:

See what a great job she did with the railing?  It being orange before really brought out the pinky undertones in the carpet going up the stairs.

The bench isn’t bad, however putting a bright colour like this teal with the yellow undertones in the flooring can feel a bit cheaper than we want it to.

Neutrals are much more finicky than colour because every neutral has an undertone… and not every undertone plays nicely with one another.

Then, when you mix colour on top of that, it can really pull out those tones and make the neutrals come off differently than you had hopes.

In this space, the flooring has a yellow undertone which is typical of your standard 12X12 builder beige tile.

The railing before had an orange undertone.  And since orange is opposite of blue on the colour wheel, the teal bench only made it look more orange.

And the carpet has a pink undertone.  Pink tones come out next to yellow, oranges, and blues.  So we want to avoid those colours in order for her carpets to appear more neutral.

Charlene’s current wall colour has a green undertone which is the most neutral and can work with anything, however with 4 different undertones in the space we definitely want to clean it up.

This is a very common problem I see.  Mixing of a whole bunch of different neutral undertones from many different trend eras — pink beige, yellow beige, blue grey, green greige — all mixed together they start to look like a bit of a mess.

So how do we solve it?

Well, changing out the banister was a fantastic start.  See how just removing one of the undertones really made the space look a lot more cohesive?

But we still have 3 other undertones competing in this space making it feel a bit flat.  

The floors aren’t changing here.  Normally I would never put a carpet with a pink undertone next to a tile with a yellow undertone.  However, with it being a staircase we can get away with it if we bring in more of one of those undertones in the decor.

First we need to determine the wall colour.

Blues, yellows, oranges and reds will fight with the carpet and bring out the pink undertone.  We definitely don’t want pink looking carpet!

Pinks and purples will bring out the yellow in the floor.  Not as bad, however may be an issue still at the point the carpet meets the floor.

So that leaves us with green.

I love green in this space because green (like red) can go either warm or cool.

In the rest of her home Charlene has many blue and purple tones.  So it appears she loves a cool palette and a green will work well with the rest of the house.

In terms of the shade of green, we could do just about anything except a bright green like lime or chartreuse.

A deeper richer saturation, or something on the muddy side like sage would work beautifully.

Since Charlene mentioned dark rich colour, let’s go with that.

Here are some paint colours that would look stunning in this space:


Hunt Club by Sherwin Williams is a fantastic deep rich green.  It has a slight bit of blue in it which means that it’ll go great with the adjacent blue rooms in the home.

Don’t worry about an undertone of a colour.  Unlike neutrals, undertones don’t matter when it comes to colour as much.  What matters is the light/dark ratio and also the cleanliness of the colour as opposed to other colours in the space.  Right now, we don’t have any other colour in the space — just neutrals.  So it’s okay to go into a green that has a hint of blue.

If she wants a more true green, then Isle of Pine by Sherwin Williams is another great choice.  It has more of a yellow undertone to it, but still is deep and rich.

Image: Studio McGee

And finally, Benjamin Moore’s Salamander would be a great choice.  Again, this one has a bit of blue in it but I really love how crisp it looks up against the white trim.

Now, whenever I’m doing a room that’ll be painted all in one colour I always consider whether wallpaper would be the better choice.

There’s something about the richness of wallpaper versus the flatness of paint.

On a staircase, it’ll hold up great and make the space feel a LOT more expensive.

Yes, wallpaper is certainly more costly than paint.  However the impact of it makes it feel 10X’s more expensive without being so.

In this space, I would choose a green grasscloth like this one by Graham & Brown:

It still reads as a solid colour, but the amount of texture it brings to the space is stunning.

A grasscloth is a classic texture so you never have to worry about it going out of style.

Plus, because it’s green it’ll last through both warm and cool colour trends depending on what you pair with it.

If you ever did need to change it up, the newer papers are far easier to remove.  They typically come off in full strips and with a lot more ease than the old pre-pasted messy varieties we all remember stripping during the 90’s Trading Spaces Era.

For styling, I’d want to add some natural wood to the space that has a yellow undertone to bring some more richness to the floors.

I opted for a large round table that could be a great “drop zone” for guests to set down keys, sunglasses, or bags.

Underneath, I layered in a white stool to bring in the trim colour and give guests a place to sit.

For table decor, I’d suggest a very dramatic vase of florals along with some vases and coffee table books.  Set up the decor in a triangular shape with the floral arrangement at the back and the vases and books to the front.

No need to always have fresh flowers on hand.  There are plenty of great faux florals that will look stunning.  Michael’s is my favourite source right now for florals that look more realistic.

Here’s a photoshop of how this vision all comes together:

See how the floor and the carpet look a lot more rich now because of the wallpaper and the table?

There’s also a LOT more drama than before.

Let’s take a look at the before and after:

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It’s amazing what colour can do for a space, though if she had wanted to remain neutral we could have made it look just as good by adding in more contrast and choosing the right paint colour like a very light taupe that would complement the flooring a lot better and make the banister a star.

If you’re looking to redesign your space, Kyle and I would love to be a part of your home’s history.  Click here to visit our services page and book your complementary Discovery Phone Call to get started.