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Basement Update: $1 Railing Makeover

Did I mention I want to make over our basement for as close to free as possible?  In the process of freshening up our stairwell to the basement (I know, I’m taking forever), I painted our tired, dated railing – plus the accompanying hardware – with a tiny amount of paint for a brand new look!  I happened to score a quart of a mis-tinted paint (a charcoal, almost black hue) for only $5.00 and I have so many more projects to paint with it.  This makeover, using a fraction of the paint, worked out to be about a dollar.

The Details:

I removed the hardware from the railing.  It was covered in gunk, so I lightly sanded and wiped it clean.  I primed the hardware with metal primer (from another project).  Then I simply applied a few, thin coats of my mis-tint paint, letting each coat dry 24 hours.  I used a tiny craft brush.

I can’t use spray paint until it gets a bit warmer here, so this was a bit of an experiment.  But it worked well!

For the railing, I lightly sanded the wood until the glossiness of the former finish was removed.  I cleaned it with a dry cloth, painted a thin coat of primer (which I also had lying around) and then painted four thin coats of the black-ish paint.  I used a foam brush to avoid brush marks.

Ta da!  I love the “after”:

I’m into little details.  We don’t always have money for major makeovers (although I’d love to gut the basement and start fresh).  But I find the little things make the difference.  When we first moved in, we removed all of the ugly brass door hinges and knobs (many were coated in chipped layers of paint) from interior and exterior doors.  We gave the doors a fresh coat of paint, added new silver hinges and knobs and each door looked brand new.  It made the whole house seem more modern, like a new-build.  After I saw this post about spray painting doorknobs (okay, I re-pinned it on Pinterest), I decided I could tackle a hardware project with paint, instead of buying new.



  1. Amelia @ House Pretty
    March 12, 2012 / 3:20 pm

    Much improved! Looks great against the wall colour too!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      March 12, 2012 / 3:40 pm

      Thanks! I am loving the new wall colour; black and white both look good against it.

  2. Chris Loves Julia
    March 12, 2012 / 3:42 pm

    We have been painting our railings this weekend, too! Looks great, lady!

  3. Dharma
    March 12, 2012 / 3:42 pm

    Nifty and thrifty! LOL I am always on the eye-spy for cheap and cheerful makeovers I can do in my place too. I have all that brass hardware you are talking about in a new build. It makes me crazyish. 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      March 12, 2012 / 4:11 pm

      Thanks! Darn that your new build has brass. But new brass is so much nicer than 40 years old, half-painted brass. I'm sure you place looks spiffy and chic. Brass and gold have come back "in" and can look really nice.

  4. Martina
    March 12, 2012 / 3:44 pm

    The updated rail looks super sleek and modern. It's amazing what a big change a little paint can manage. I love that you were able to re-use materials instead of buying new, it's both economical and environmentally friendly!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      March 12, 2012 / 4:12 pm

      Thanks! I really, really try not to be wasteful. Some things have needed to be pitched (no one would take them – like our salmon pink toilet) so I try to make over anything with even a little potential 😉

  5. Christine
    March 12, 2012 / 4:46 pm

    Great update! I love little details like this that make such a difference for so little money!

  6. EJ @ Not A House, But A Home
    March 12, 2012 / 5:50 pm

    I love projects like this. It doesn't always take a big budget to make a big difference! Looks great 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      March 12, 2012 / 7:04 pm

      Thanks! I also checked Lowe's today and a new railing would have set us back $30.00 (plus new hardware). Sweet!

  7. Vintage Market Place
    March 12, 2012 / 6:16 pm

    great before and after!good luck with the rest of the basement:)Amy

  8. Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication
    March 12, 2012 / 6:27 pm

    I love cheap projects like this that make such a difference! And I'm totally spray painting our knobs!!

  9. house no. 2
    March 12, 2012 / 7:02 pm

    you are SO right about the little updates making a big statement, rather than blowing huge chunks of money on major renos. i LOVE LOVE LOVE little projects. i've been away from my blog for a number of months but i've been staying on top of yours.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      March 12, 2012 / 7:03 pm

      I'm so glad to hear that! I've noticed you've been a bit absent.

  10. Carol@TheDesignPages
    March 12, 2012 / 7:11 pm

    Sometimes it's the smallest details that make us the happiest. Nicely done!

  11. Lets just build a house!
    March 12, 2012 / 8:11 pm

    Looks really good for such an easy and thrifty fix.

  12. Anastasia
    March 12, 2012 / 10:06 pm

    The small details do count for a lot. Have been trying to fix up little things around the house as well. Which sometimes make all the difference. Great job!Anastasia at Decor is like butter

  13. Jaimie
    March 12, 2012 / 10:53 pm

    Nicely done! I'm in the process of painting all our trim and doors white, and I was just thinking that I really should paint the door stoppers white too. I considered painting our dated brass door knobs in satin nickel, but after seeing how pitted and beat up most of them are, I think I'm going to be stuck replacing them instead.

  14. Paige
    March 12, 2012 / 11:16 pm

    It's amazing how much different that $1 made to your staircase!I'm loving this.. it proves that you don't need to rip out a wall to freshen up a room. Great work =]

  15. Heather
    March 13, 2012 / 4:35 am

    I'm going to start re-doing my lower level soon, and I've been thinking of replacing my railing. But seeing how much better yours looks with a little paint, I'm going to go the budget-friendly route too. Great idea!

  16. Rosa @ FlutterFlutter
    March 13, 2012 / 7:21 am

    Ah, the sweet smell of jobs being finished! Looking good!

  17. mistergandme
    March 13, 2012 / 10:55 pm

    You are so resourceful! Love the new look 🙂

  18. kelly@refresheddesigns.
    March 14, 2012 / 1:42 am

    The black rail looks very sleek and updated. I'm a big believer in using what you already have. Great job!

  19. spoutingmytwocents
    March 16, 2012 / 4:52 pm

    Looks great, love the black!

  20. Jenny from My Handmade Home
    March 20, 2012 / 4:05 am

    I just found your blog from ??? but I'm so glad I did! It's so nice to read a Canadian blog. I just did the "tour" and I love everything you've done. Beautiful work!

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