Seeking ideas for the entrance to a basement apartment

Eric SimmsMay 11, 2014
This is a picture of the entrance to the basement apartment of my house, where my tenant resides. I took this picture on a bright and sunny day, but the entrance is shaded by a large tree, so it never receives full sun. Also, I just washed the walls, which is why the stairs appear wet (the white color at the bottom of the stairs are soap suds). I just finished painting the rail today (it was badly rusted), and I need to powerwash the stairs and paint over the rust stains under the rail.
Do you have any ideas how I might make this entrance interesting? I view my house primarily as an art installation, so I’m up for trying anything regarding it. I thought I would paint the stairs a new color using Olympic Rescue It! resurfacer. Terra cotta, perhaps? As for the walls, I believe the original owners painted them white to make the entrance as bright as possible and to match the house; for that reason I might have to repaint the walls white.
I figure I could plant colorful foliage that cascades over the wall and down into the stairway. Does anyone have any better ideas? Thanks!
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The entrance isn't very wide, so I would be cautious about plants-perhaps the wall facing you as you descend would be a better location? I could also see a water feature there, trickling down the brick. If you like color, you could stencil a runner down the stairs. Is it a solid door?
    Bookmark   Thanked by Eric Simms    May 11, 2014 at 1:08PM
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Can you remove the tree, paint white wall .....
    Bookmark   Thanked by Eric Simms    May 11, 2014 at 1:15PM
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Eric Simms
Yes, the door is solid - I attached a photo. The shadow is so deep in that stairway it's like descending into Mordor.
Cascading plants down the back wall is a good idea. The area at the bottom is so small I'd be hard-pressed to put a water feature down there, but I like the idea and I'll retain it for later. :-)
    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 1:22PM
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Eric Simms
@megen20: I would love to remove that tree, but it's old and lends much to the landscape design.
    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 1:25PM
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Is there any way that you could put some sort of awning over the whole stairway? I keep thinking of the tenant getting soaked trying to navigate the stairs in a downpour. Obviously, you wouldn't want to do this if this is on the front of your home.
    Bookmark   Thanked by Eric Simms    May 11, 2014 at 1:35PM
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Eric Simms
@leelee: I like your awning idea; it puts me in mind of a New York City apartment entrance. I think an awning would block what little light currently reaches the stairway. I'll consider it, for it would look nice. Thanks for the idea.
    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 1:57PM
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You could do an awning but add lighting - even solar powered lighting with the grid above on the wall so the lights were on all the time . . . painting the stairs is a good idea. Don't know your house colors otherwise, but I wouldn't use terracotta with white - I'd try to imitate travertine - go for a warm undertone tan - it will reflect off the side walls and add sunlight in there - like sw straw harvest

If you consider an awning - think about the quality of the reflected light - stay khaki tan there too as the deepest shade you would consider. .
1 Like    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:02PM
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If you end up doing an awning you could also add some extra lights underneath.
    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:04PM
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I like the lit awning idea- especially if you live in a wintery area. They can be made from glass as well. Puck lights along the stairs would look great, too.
On the water feature, the one I saw had a narrow trough at the bottom and just a hidden hose at top with multiple holes. Instant focal point- just adding sound can make an entrance welcoming. A painted canvas or wall garden would look nice, too.
Since the door is solid, i guess decorating the railing wall isn't really necessary.
    Bookmark   Thanked by Eric Simms    May 11, 2014 at 2:36PM
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be careful painting stairs that they don't become slick. there is a sand/grit you put in paint for last coat. the paint dept. at home depot has it.
    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:48PM
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Scott Design, Inc.
Consider putting tile over the brick... ceramic tile, glass tile, metal tile or a combination on the white brick. There's a lot of great colors, shapes and sizes. Be sure to wire brush the loose paint off the brick and use exterior grade mortar thinset and grout o apply it.
1 Like    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 3:30PM
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