Stair Railing Makeover: Before

You might remember that one of my goals for 2018 is to give our upstairs room a makeover. In addition to painting the walls, one of the projects I’ve been thinking about tackling soon involves this plant corner, and that white railing.

These are the only windows in the room, and guests have no reason to come up here, so it’s where I’ve stuck plants that I’m overwintering indoors, or babysitting for my mom.

These wild vines are all mine, though. I look forward to when they spill over the whole wall.

You might be thinking that this railing doesn’t look bad, so why am I messing with it? Here’s the thing: It stands 20-inches tall from the floor, and every time I’m near it I remember a comment the home inspector made when we were buying the house. He said, “That railing definitely isn’t up to code. It’s probably worse than nothing because it’s just the right height to catch your shins on and fall down the stairs.” Would I have been scared of that happening if he hadn’t said that? We’ll never know. I’m not even afraid of heights, but clumsy me has a bad track record with stairs. I consider myself lucky that so far the worst of it has been broken ribs. It may seem unlikely, but whenever I’m near the railing I worry about taking a tumble.

So I knew that someday I wanted to extend the railing up to the ceiling somehow. But there are a lot of requirements for this theoretical new railing. It needs to:

  1. Make it harder/impossible to fall over the landing.
  2. Not block the window light or airflow.
  3. Be easily removable, because there have been several situations where we’ve had to put furniture over the railing because it can’t make it around the corner.
  4. Be aesthetically pleasing.
  5. Not block curtains on the window.

Over the holidays we spent a night at the Commodore Hotel in Astoria, Oregon, which featured this rope installation in the lobby:

Commodore Hotel lobby rope divider

Commodore Hotel lobby

Design-wise, there was too much going on in that lobby, but it got me started thinking about how maybe I could extend ropes up from the existing railing to the ceiling. So I went in search of inspiration and how-tos, and came up with several options.

First up is just straight, unknotted rope. I like the simplicity, and it would be the easiest to execute.rope room divider

Sources, clockwise from top: The Brick House (includes some how-to details) | Unknown | Unknown | Decoracion de Interiores | Design*Sponge

When I was searching for inspiration, I started seeing the possibilities of creating a pattern with angled rope. I love the top two examples, from a craft show booth. The bottom two examples aren’t rope, but you could get the same look with rope.

rope divider

Sources, clockwise from top left: Rewilder | Rewilder | Unknown | Unknown

The other option I discovered is a big macrame rope wall. The corner already has a lot of straight lines, thanks to the wood railing and the grid of the hanging chair. Modern, organic loops of macrame might be a better choice than straight lines.

Large macrame room divider

Sources, clockwise from top left: Sally EnglandWindy Chien | A Beautiful Mess | Unknown | Unknown | Natalie Miller

I think I’d want to do a fairly simple pattern with white rope, but having some macrame knots on at least part of the piece could be the right choice for this space. Plus, attaching the rope to a dowel hanging from the ceiling would be a great way to make the barrier removable.

The last time I tied macrame knots in a serious way I was making hemp necklaces in high school, so I’ll definitely have to brush-up on my skills before I tackle any large macrame installations.

Adventurous thinks I should hurry up and get knotting (actually she just wants me to go downstairs and pet her while she eats), but I think I should do the painting first, and mull my design over a bit longer.

What do you think? Is there a better solution I’m totally missing?

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2 thoughts on “Stair Railing Makeover: Before

    • Thanks Sarah! I wasn’t sure whether it would seem totally wacky to everyone else, so I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes it 🙂

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