Stairway Mini-Makeover Reveal + Gallery Wall Tips

Last week I finally did something with my temporary-turned-2-year-fix gallery wall pictures (Ugly Art ReFab), so today I’m sharing the rest of the mini-makeover of the stairway.

12 or 13 years ago I bought bound Berber area rugs in the living and dining rooms and a matching runner up the stairs. The area rugs are long gone, but for some reason I had blinders on about the stairway runner.

berber stairway runner

These pictures truly do not capture how disgusting the rug was.

dirty berber stairway runner

So you’ll have take my word for it…it was nasty.

The Berber runner didn’t bother me until it did – and then I couldn’t wait to get it out of the house. I hadn’t really thought it might be a DIY project that I could tackle myself since I had it professionally installed originally. But, I saw a few tutorials on Pinterest and we decided to give it a whirl.

I swapped out the Berber for a beautiful chunky textured jute runner from  You can find the one I bought  HERE. It’s out of stock as I’m typing this, but they have the same rug in lot of different lengths and widths. It took three to cover my stairway and landing.

I left the existing carpet pad on the stairs and we installed the new runner right over the top with an electric staple gun. This particular runner is pretty thick and there is no way it would have worked with a manual staple gun – though you might be able to get away with it if you were using a thinner rug.

The only tricky part was hiding the edges we had to cut because they tended to be a little raggedy:

jute carpet runner

But once it was all installed, it looked terrific:

jute stairway runner

The texture is gorgeous and it hides dirt a lot better than the light colored Berber.

Jute runner on stairway

I also swapped out the decrepit light fixture at the base of the stairs:

The new fixture is actually much cuter in real life than it looks in this photo, I’m not sure why. It’s a classic style with a hint of a vintage vibe that works really well in my 1920’s house. I love the Edison bulbs, though I wish they gave off a little more light. I got the light from Lowe’s, you can find it HERE. 

I picked up some adorable new mason jar votive holders for the window sill at Michael’s for 50% off.

mason jar votive holders from Michaels

Next I tackled the gallery wall.

I had some pieces that were hanging in other parts of the house that have been shuffled around and displaced, so I thought I would work them into the gallery I already had going up the stairs.

Stairway Gallery Wall - Check out my best tips for an interesting gallery wall display

The arrangement is a combination of all kinds of things – sepia photographs, architectural salvage, inspirational words, a clock and the remnants of my coastal decor phase a few years ago.

Stairway Gallery Wall - Check out my best tips for an interesting gallery wall display

I’d like to ditch the seashells completely….I’m actively looking for similar sized items to replace them with and I’ll switch out as I find them –  but I don’t mind them too much sprinkled in with the other items.

Stairway Gallery Wall - Check out my best tips for an interesting gallery wall display

Plus, it IS just a pass through.

Stairway Gallery Wall - Check out my best tips for an interesting gallery wall display

I have always loved these vintage advertising prints…I used to have them all over the house, but when I switched to a monochromatic color scheme I found that most of them were too bright. But I did manage to save the Taittinger lady. 🙂

Stairway Gallery Wall - Check out my best tips for an interesting gallery wall display

How do you like that vintage light switch???

The DRG is a pretty decent electrician and he cringes every time he looks at these antique push button switches, which are original to the house. There are just a few left and I know I should replace them, but I LOVE THEM. So… they aren’t going anywhere until they actually stop working.

Stumped for ideas on what to include in your gallery wall?

Gallery Wall Inspiration

  • Architectural salvage
  • Mirrors
  • Clocks
  • Cool empty frames
  • Frames with fabric or scrapbooking paper in them
  • Empty frames around other art
  • Typography
  • Photography
  • Posters and prints
  • Baskets
  • Trays
  • Plates

I think you get the idea….you can hang just about anything! Gallery walls are definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts – most of this stuff wouldn’t look like much by individually, but if you put them together they are kinda magic.

Gallery Wall Arrangement Tips & Tricks

  • A variety of sizes and shapes makes for a more interesting arrangement.
  • If you’re using photographs, stick to all color, all black & white or all sepia for a more cohesive look.
  • Mixing some metal in looks great, but much like sticking to one kind of photograph, it will all make more sense if you pick one tone – gold, silver, antique finish or whatever – and repeat it throughout.
  • Add some textured items for more interest.
  • Be conscious of the space between each piece – you don’t want a tiny space between some things and several inches between others.
  • I rarely get rid of wall art. When I move things around, I always stash anything I take down in the attic, because even if I don’t have a prime spot in my main living spaces for something, I know I can probably work it into a gallery arrangement like this.
  • I know a lot of people map out their gallery walls before they hang them, but I like to just jump right in with a larger piece and build around that. Think of it as a giant fun jigsaw puzzle on your wall.

I have a very neutral, monochromatic thing going on my house. Everything is tan, brown, beige and cream with white trim, tons of texture and the occasional touch of blue and green, and this gallery is no exception.

These walls were SUPER HARD to photograph, BTW….my stairway is narrow and I was trying avoid the sun coming the windows at the bottom of the stairs and on the landing. I know the spacing looks off in some places, but it’s more a matter of the angle I was shooting from than what it looks like in real life. 

This little square frame is super cute and all I did is put a piece of pattered scrapbook paper in it.

Stairway Gallery Wall - Check out my best tips for an interesting gallery wall display

If you’re building your gallery wall on a budget, pick up some interesting scrapbooking paper that fits into your color scheme – it works great while you search for something more permanent. Collect frames that you like and create your framework first, and add the inexpensive paper – or just leave them empty – while you build your collection.

This chippy sea green frame came from an estate sale, I think I paid $3 for it a few years ago. On the back there is a remnant of a tag from the NY State Fair of 1950.

Stairway Gallery Wall - Check out my best tips for an interesting gallery wall display

Tag from 1950 NY State Fair

The frame didn’t have any glass when I bought it, so I hung it around a seashell wall hanging….which used to have glass, but I bounced it down the stairs one too many times moving furniture around.


So I didn’t buy anything new for the walls, but it’s freshened up a lot and the new light fixture and rug are a HUGE improvement. What do you think? Are you ready to tackle your own gallery wall?

Stairway Gallery Wall - Check out my best tips for an interesting gallery wall display

I’m linking this project up at some terrific blog parties – you can find my complete list of places I party HERE.

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About Julie

Julie is a serial entrepreneur, marketer, former newspaper columnist, black belt bargain hunter, voracious reader, gardener, music lover, foodie, wino, avid party thrower, hopeless romantic, closet Parrot Head and DIY machine.

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  • Hi, Julie! Love how you styled the stairway, the new runner and those votive holders, they are to die for!
    Thank you so much for sharing it with us at #sweetinspiration, I hope you enjoy the rest of the week!

  • DazzleWhileFrazzled

    Love how your stairway and gallery wall look. Like how you used a variety of interesting pieces that all work together. Love the new light fixture with the Edison bulb. Thanks for linking up with Funtastic Fridays.

  • Sherry Thecharmofhome

    Love the gallery wall and stair runner! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

  • Keri Roberts

    Julie, the new jute runner on your staircase looks awesome!! Great job on it! I love your gallery wall!! All the pieces you’ve chosen looks so fantastic together. And I’m like you, I don’t use templates when hanging up my pictures either, I just jump right in. Thanks for all the ideas for the different things you can use to create a gallery wall!!

    • Most of the time the “jump right in” plan works – but I do have a wall or two that look like Swiss cheese from all my “experimenting”, but I figure that’s why they made spackle. 🙂

  • Love the gallery wall and the stair runner. Your old one didn’t look bad at all. Thanks for sharing. Found you over at Funtastic Friday. ~Lowanda of Sunshine and Elephants

  • Jennifer Kelly

    This is gorgeous!! So talented!

  • Love your gallery wall! So pretty!

  • The Tightwad Teacher

    I love everything about this make over! My wall at my stairs is empty because I have no idea how to even begin to put something together. This is GORGEOUS! Thanks for linking up with us at Blogger’s Spotlight and please come back this Thursday!

  • Hot Pepper Queen

    The new runner is great. I just had a professional photo shoot with my husband and am looking for some gallery ideas.

  • Love the Wall Gallery, it’s such a great way to tell a little about he homeowner.

  • Your gallery wall is so full of interesting pieces and lots of inspiration. Thanks for sharing some great tips, too!

  • Lori -thestonybrookhouse

    Love your gallery wall! Thanks for sharing at Dishing It & Digging It!

  • Stacey Keeling

    This is an awesome post filled with great information! I love the natural fiber that you put on your stairs. I’m sure it’s good a great texture to it that will help people have a more secure walk up and down. The gallery wall looks amazing and I’ve pinned several times. I like the shadowbox frame that your seashells are in…maybe you could just put something else in there?

    One reason that I love linky parties is to find great bloggers like you!

    • Aw, thanks Stacey! Yes, I think the shadowbox will get turned into something else at some point. I appreciate you stopping by this morning.

  • Your gallery wall and stair case look wonderful. I love all the character that so any of the pieces give to the overall look. Pinned and tweeted. Thanks for sharing at Snickerdoodle Sunday.

  • Emily @ TwoPurpleCouches

    Your stairway looks great! I love the mix of artwork and vintage pieces in your gallery wall. Thanks for linking up with Merry Monday!

  • I love your hallway – especially that gallery wall – thanks for sharing with Pin worthy Wednesday

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