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A Stairway Gets a New Look Using Ordinary Brown Paper

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By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Published: March 28, 2013


March is Stunning Staircase Month at HouseLogic. Check out this plain-to-princely stair makeover, then vote for your favorite at the end of the month.


When I first saw pictures of Rachael Evans’ stairway upgrade, I honed in on the textured wallpaper she applied to the risers beneath what looked like cork treads.

But as I read Rachael’s post, I realized the treads were not cork or burled wood. They were MDF covered with stained brown paper – a decoupage technique that made the plain treads look expensive and elegant. It’s faux flooring for less than $100.

(If you’re a fan of faux, don’t miss this faux granite project (

Brown-Paper Stairs 101

This time-intensive but low-cost refinishing technique requires:

          •Brown craft paper (the kind you wrap packages with; $20 for a 200-ft. roll).

          •White glue ($12/gal. at craft stores).

          •Dark walnut stain ($8/qt.).

          •Floor-grade polyurethane, semi-gloss ($40/gal.). Look for water-based products to reduce your exposure to VOCs (; it also dries quickly.

Rachael has printed a complete tutorial ( on how to lay down brown paper flooring. Here’s the basic process.

1. Remove carpet and padding.

2. Tape off baseboards to protect the paint.

3. Tear paper into 6- to 12-inch-diameter pieces; the smaller the pieces, the more leathery the floor will look. (Pieces with straight edges are good for applying next to walls.) Crumple into balls and toss into a contractor’s plastic bag until you need them.

4. Dilute glue with water using a ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part glue. Only dilute enough glue to use in one session.

5. With a paintbrush, brush treads with undiluted glue.

6. Dunk 5-6 balls of paper at a time into the diluted glue; squeeze out excess.

7. Lay paper on treads, overlapping a little. Brush the diluted glue mix over the paper to flatten and remove wrinkles.

8. Allow to dry for about 12 hours.

9. Apply stain, and let that dry for 48 hours.

10. Apply 12 coats of water-based polyurethane, sanding lightly between coats.

Wallpaper Risers

Once you’ve finished refinishing the treads, you can refresh the risers by applying paintable textured wallpaper. Rachael used an embossed print called anaglypta ($20 for 22 sq. ft.), which looks like vintage metal ceiling tiles.

To give the project a finished look, she glued a piece of trim onto the bottom of each riser.

Lessons Learned

1. Work on every other stair, so you can use the stairway while you’re refinishing. The project will take four days to complete, so you don’t want to be without your stairway for that long.

2. For best results, practice the technique on scrap wood before trying it on the stairs.

3. For a light, natural color, skip the stain.

4. Allow everything to dry completely before proceeding to the next step. Patience is key to good results!

Looking for more great stairway redo ideas? Check out these fantastic stairway makeover projects:

How a Clever Mom Turned a Stairway into Storage (

A Runner Shapes Up a Tired Staircase (

Bead Board Risers Sweeten This Stairway (

Also, take a look at these imaginative pantry ( and laundry room ( projects.

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Gardening Resolutions


6 Gardening Resolutions I Swear I’ll Keep This Year

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By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Published: January 02, 2013


Every year I resolve to be a more diligent gardener: This year, I mean it.


Usually, my New Year’s gardening resolutions begin with: Stay on top of weeding. But last year, I experimented with alternative gardens – square foot gardens (, plastic bag gardens ( – that virtually vanished weeds from my vegetable patch.

So, this year, I’ve got time to work on the other resolutions on my list.

          •Grow only what I’ll eat, instead of planting seven kinds of lettuce and letting it spoil in my vegetable crisper.

          •Hang gardening tools ( on my potting bench every day, rather than letting them rust in the rain.

          •Prune, feed, and spray my roses all summer, not just at the beginning of the season.

          •Dig up summer bulbs and store them for winter (, instead of letting them rot, and then buying new ones.

          •Do what it takes – compost (, stake, feed – to grow a decent tomato.

          •Don’t give gardening advice to my neighbor unless he asks, then keep quiet when he ultimately does it his own way.

What plans do you have for your garden this year?

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Progammable Thermostats reduce energy costs

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All About Gold

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Layer a Little, Layer a Lot

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Sebago Lake Station Landing

Sebago Lake Station Landing

If you want to launch your boat into Sebago lake in Maine this is the place to be. Totally redone with great parking (although on busy weekends boat trailers and vehicles spill out of the lot all the way up the street to Otter Ponds) and an easy ramp to use.
Boaters love Sebago lake and who wouldn’t with over 28,000 acres its one of the most beautiful, clean and deepest lake in Maine.
Make it a day and you can also head up the Songo River to both Brandy Pond and Long Lake and view the new and improved bridge in Naples and the gorgeous causeway.
Life is good on the Lake!

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Maine Island on Sebago Lake

Maine Island on Sebago Lake

I always wanted to own an Island. I hear it from so many people and this island on Sebago lake in Maine could be yours. It has an ample size cottage and an shed or boathouse plus a dock. There are high bush blueberries all over the island and lots of birds.
To get to the island you could either own a slip in one of the many Marinas or just drop your boat in at a local boat launch.
If this appeals to you I’d love to boat you out for a tour.

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Sebago Lake in February

Here we are nearing the end of February and no real site of winter yet. We had a little dusting of a few inches a couple days ago which was just enough to remind us that it is the winter season and to cover the dead brown grass. Looking outside my window today its breezy and sunny so the lake is churning up some white caps. I can’t wait until spring so we can see some boating activity out there.


As for market activity for real estate on Sebago things seem to be heating up. There have been 3 properties that have recently gone under contract in the 650k range and I had 2 back to back showings on one of my listings at 107 Whites Point Rd. Standish listed at $799,500 for a 4,400 sq.ft. Colonial with 100″ lake frontage is such a deal. We will see what happens both parties did have interest.

I don’t see who wouldn’t want to own a piece of this at such reasonable prices.


It’s always a beautiful day on Jordans Bay looking towards Whites Bridge on Sebago one of the deepest lakes you will come across with a depth of 316 feet at its deepest point.

For more info on this Maine lake contact me or visit my website at

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Big Sebago Today’s outside my window!

Hello everyone! If you’re looking at my blog you love Sebago Lake in Maine as much as we do. We live on Jordan’s Bay which is the closet bay to the Windham shopping area unless you live on the basin which just isn’t as deep as Jordan’s Bay which is why we prefer this area.

Everyday there is something new to see outside of our window whether it be open water or icy conditions. Sebago Lake will not probably freeze over this year with the warm temps we’ve been getting. We see Buffle Head ducks swimming along with an Eagle who makes passes occasionally to what looks like grab one of the Buffle Heads which thankfully hasn’t occurred on my watch yet.

I’m posting a photo just taken and hope to continue to update this blog with photos as often as possible.

If you have any interest in the Sebago Lake or have questions and are thinking of getting a place here let my experience guide you.

Warm regards,

Carol Kilburn

Sebago Lake Maine today!

RE/MAX By The Bay

Direct: 207-553-7396

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