DIY Moody Staircase Shadow Box Trim
When we were building our house, we had a lot of conversations about this staircase. I’m personally not a fan of staircases with knee walls. I feel like they are tight and closed off. I really wanted to open up these walls with a railing, but the builder wanted an unreasonable amount of money for the upgrade. (Immediately, no.) Rob and I were convinced we could tackle the project ourselves and make this area of our home speak for itself. You’re not going to believe how it turned out!
As you can see in the before photo (that’s not really a before photo because I already installed these stair riser decals), the staircase was boring, all white, and had no character. Not to mention, it already had a million tiny handprints in the few months since we moved in due to a toddler who has to touch every inch of wall as he walks up the stairs.
The original plan was to open up these knee walls. But after living in our house for a bit, seeing how our toddler navigated stairs, and then finding out we’re pregnant again — we ended up deciding to keep the knee walls for the sake of the season of life that we’re in. Not only did we need secure baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. But also, open railings just seemed like a recipe for climbing and pushing things through to fall to their death (and our floor’s death.)
It was when I saw this staircase makeover on Instagram that I knew I wanted to do moody shadow box trim for our staircase. I felt like it would make the biggest statement / impact without having to take out walls. As I always preach, paint is one of the biggest (and least expensive ways) to completely transform the look and feel of a space. But even knowing that, I was completely blown away at the impact of paint and a little trim. Scroll down and take a look for yourself!
Staircase Shadow Box Trim Supplies
- Top Trim and Shadow Box Trim
- Ryobi Cordless Brad Nailer
- Self Leveling Laser Level
- Wood Filler
- Behr Scuff Defense Paint (Satin Sheen) in the color Peppercorn by Sherwin Williams
- Paint Brush (my favorite brush!)
- Rub n Buff (for stair hardware) in the color Antique Gold
DIY Moody Staircase Shadow Box Trim Details
I should start off by saying that doing shadow box trim is insanely easy when you’re doing it on a normal wall. It’s just 45 degree cuts on your trim to piece together boxes. Up at an angle on a staircase? Different story.
This project was extremely frustrating. Not only was it a ton of math that took me back to high school trigonometry, but it also was difficult due to un level walls and floors among some other slight issues we had to think around. (Why is it always like that in a builder grade home?) Each side of each section of the staircase ended up having its own set of measurements and angles.
Once the math was done and we got our cuts figured out, it was actually pretty smooth sailing from there. We first made all of our cuts. Then we actually built the boxes prior to putting them on the wall. Not only did it make getting the boxes on the wall incredibly easy with our laser level (you just had to level the entire box rather than each individual piece), it made the whole thing a streamlined operation.
After the boxes were on the wall, a lot of finish work had to happen during nap time. I wood filled all the seams of the boxes themselves and the nail holes. Then I caulked all the seams where the boxes met the wall. Taking your time with this step is what will get you the professional look you’re wanting when doing custom work in your home!
To finish it up, I painted with Behr Scuff Defense (satin sheen) in the color Peppercorn by Sherwin Williams from the trim down. Peppercorn is one of my favorite colors I’ve used in our homes. The dark color paired with the Scuff Defense in Satin was the perfect choice to hide toddler handprints and make cleaning up any scuffs or marks it will inevitably get a breeze. To make the hardware pop and add some drama, I decided to rub n buff the hardware in Antique Gold. It’s very subtle yet the perfect touch.
Take a look at this! Can you believe this is the same staircase? It’s truly incredible what a little paint and trim can do. There are definitely some things I learned along the way. There are also some things I’d do differently next time. But, I am so proud of this project. I’m completely obsessed with how it turned out! I hope y’all love it too! But even more so, I hope that this inspires you to go for it if you’ve been itching to make a bold design decision or tackle a similar project in your home.
Well there you have it, friends! I hope you enjoyed this closer look at our recent staircase makeover project. I am absolutely loving how it turned out, and it just goes to show the power of a little paint and trim work! Have questions or love it as much as I do? Let me know what you think in a comment below!