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How to Make Marimekko Wallpapered Stairs

The first thing you see when you open my front door is the steep victorian stairs. These stairs have been crying out for a transformation. I finally got rid of the boring beige carpet that was just a dust and dirt magnet and brightened them up with a touch of Marimekko. I will show you how I wallpapered the stairs.

Every time, I open the front now, I can’t help but smile at my lovely cheery stairs. Even my teenage sons who don’t normally notice anything around the house, have told me without prompting how much they love the new stairs.

My Marimekko stairs were achieved by wallpapering the risers in Marimekko wallpaper. Other wallpapers are available but I do have a bit of a thing about Marimekko.

In the past I have Marimekko’d shoes, a bench, and even a giant paper mache cactus.

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These stairs were transformed with Marimekko Unikko wallpaper.  Full tutorial on how to remove old carpet from stairs and how to wallpaper them for a more striking cleaner look.

How I Marimekko Wallpapered My Stairs

Tools & Materials Used

Preparing Carpeted Stairs for Wallpapering

1.. The first thing I did was to remove the old carpet.

As these were the only stairs in the house and I live in a busy household with people constantly going up and down the stairs, I decided to remove the carpet one stair at a time.

I don’t know if you have lifted the carpet off your stairs before, but what is underneath are lethal carpet grippers and nails.

Stepping on one of those grippers is going to hurt. Using a Stanley knife I cut the carpet off each stair one by one, removing the grippers and nails before moving on to the next step.

2. Once all the carpet was finally removed I then used the heat gun to strip any residual paint on the stairs.

The stairs in my house are over a hundred years old and had been obviously been painted before. As I was going to be wallpapering the risers, I only needed to remove the paint on the top of each step.

removing old paint with heat gun

Varnishing the stairs..

3. I ended up varnishing the stairs in 2 halves, so everyone could walk down one side of the stairs while the varnish dried on the other side.

I applied 2 coats of varnish on the stairs one in the morning and another last thing at night, so this took a couple of days one for each side.

stair transformation

4. The banister and railings were also given a new coat of paint. The banister was painted a dark blue to match my chosen wallpaper. I had noticed that my white banister had got very grubby over the years and I was hoping that a blue banister would fair better.

What you need to wallpaper stairs.

How to wallpaper stairs.

I could have wallpapered the stairs on my own but decided to rope in the help of my friend Wendy, who is an expert at upcycling with wallpaper. She had recently wallpapered her tabletop with a paper in a similar design.

1.. First, to make sure that the wallpaper will stick to your stairs well, key them first. I did this by applying a coat of wallpaper paste to each stair riser and letting it dry thoroughly.

2. Next, measure the width and length of each step riser. It may be awkward to get an accurate measurement, it’s always better to measure too big, then too short as you can trim later.

3. Then, using a rotary cutter and a cutting mat cut your wallpaper for each step. You will have to think about how best your chosen wallpaper pattern will work.

I was lucky as the Marimekko pattern I chose worked either way up so I was able to cut my wallpaper to the length of my stairs and thus avoided any joins.

 wallpapered stairs full step by step tutorial

4. Next, paste-up your paper well with wallpaper paste and then place carefully on each step, positioning from the bottom up. When in place, go over the top with a damp sponge pushing the wallpaper into any grooves.

5. Continue until all the stairs are finished leave to dry thoroughly. Even though the wallpaper is washable to protect it further apply a coat of varnish to each step.

The finished stairs..

Marimekko Stairs - Transform you stairs with wallpaper step by step tutorial

I love it now when I open my front door and see my lovely Marimekko wallpapered stairs. With some of the leftover wallpaper remnants, I also wallpaper the lampshades in the hall to match.

I’ve even wallpapered the IKEA mirror that hangs by the loft stairs in my home.

How to wallpaper lampshades so that it matches your decor

If the Marimekko stairs are a bit bold for you or if you love Marimekko, how about moving the Marimekko into the garden with these gorgeous upcycled Marimekko decorative tin can planters.

I have lots of Marimekko crafts and DIYs on Pillarboxblue. I painted the shed in my garden with the same Marimekko pattern as these wallpapered stairs.

For even more fantastic wallpaper ideas check out my awesome creative wallpaper ideas. I even have a great tutorial on how to make a kitchen wallpaper backsplash (splashback).

For more home, improvement ideas visit

Marimekko wallpapered stairs


Tuesday 2nd of July 2019

if I did, I’d do exactly what you have done. They are so fun and such a great pop of color against the white walls. And if you get bored, you can just rip it off and start over! Visiting from Redo It Yourself Inspiration party.

Claire Armstrong

Wednesday 3rd of July 2019

Yes, I did the stairs a couple of years ago now but they still make me smile when I open the front door. I haven't got bored of them yet!

Carole McLendon

Monday 23rd of January 2017

Covering the drum shade on the light fixture there was a master stroke...great job all round. Congratulations. Now wishing I had stairs...

Claire Armstrong

Monday 23rd of January 2017

Thank you so much Carole.

Naomie Moore, Castaic, CA

Sunday 22nd of January 2017

Ourstanding! A+. Those stairs are steep aren't they. Love your design choice, I would have picked it too. Thanks for sharing! ☺

Claire Armstrong

Sunday 22nd of January 2017

Thank you, Naomie, yes they are steep!


Sunday 22nd of January 2017

A very clever way to use wallpaper. None-the-less, the blue on the stair railing and the navy blue in the wallpaper are discordant, one is greenish blue and the other is black blue. It would have been better if you repeated the navy on stair railing or painted it a color with less contrast.

Claire Armstrong

Sunday 22nd of January 2017

Thank you! Thanks for your suggestion.


Sunday 22nd of January 2017

Not my choice of colors but it's a great improvement. I can't understand why someone (and I suspect it was a previous owner) covered those beautiful oak treads with carpet to begin with. That's a stunning feature and certainly not cheap. I suppose if it was me I'd mimic another similar re-do I saw. I'd use wallpaper that looked like birch trees on the risers or even bricks or stones. But, it's clear your choice of color is blue and it looks great.

Claire Armstrong

Sunday 22nd of January 2017

Thank you! I agree that it is a great improvement and I know my choice of wallpaper is a bit too bold for some people's taste. I do like your idea of birch tree or stone wallpaper I think they would look great too.