DIY – Adding character to Open Stair Risers

When we moved into our home 2.5 years ago, I knew I needed and wanted to close the open stair risers on our front porch. Visually they were unappealing, energetically they felt choppy and uninviting and from a Feng Shui perspective open rises let all the juice energy the universe has to offer us bleed out creating a loss.

Stairs are meant to be inviting, provide a sense of safety and security while drawing all the magic of the universe into our homes so it can enrich all aspects of our lives. Open stair rises will often leave the occupants of the home feeling as if all their heartfelt desires are leaking through the fingers of their clasped hands. Although this DIY project has been on my hit list for awhile, there were other more important Feng Shui enhancements our curb appeal needed before I could get down to the finer details of closing the risers of our front porch.

Do you remember the before and after of our first summer in our home? Well, here’s what our home looked like when we bought it! I had a vision, and with a little work, it’s been slowly coming together, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

(Before so sad 🙁 )

The first summer, we built the boardwalk platform stairs to span the front porch steps to the curb. I wanted the curb appeal to feeling open and inviting. It was amazing how many neighbours stopped to chat, asking why we were using wood for our sidewalk instead of concrete like all the other houses on the street. It was a lovely way to meet the neighbours. My response was that I wanted the stairs to be wide and open. I wanted us to do it ourselves, and I didn’t want to blow our landscape budget on concrete. The wood platform stairs although they took us an entire long weekend to build and a full summer of Sunday’s to build the boardwalk down each side of the house, the process was relatively painless and a lot less expensive then concrete would be!

My reasoning was/is this. Besides the initial cost difference, concrete always cracks and breaks-down in our climate. To repair and replace concrete is not only more costly; it is a greater burden on our landfill sites then weathered wood is. Although the boardwalk will need to be stained every 3-5 years, the replacement of weathered and rotten boards is much more budget friendly and easier to do as a DIY project. We won’t be needing a Bobcat and a Jackhammer to get the job done! I’m always up for a good DIY, hence this project and the subject of this post!

Stair Risers – Build

From a Feng Shui perspective, closed stair risers are always best as they eliminate the loss of rich and vital energy entering your home. So if you have open risers, I’d close them up as soon as possible.

Here’s what we did.

I measured the length and height of the risers making sure that the 1/4″ plywood we’d be using for this project could tuck nicely in under the treads as to not reduce the width of the stairs and hinder walking. We needed 5 risers at 8′ wide x 5″ high so a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood would do the trick. We also have the back deck stairs to modify as well, and the 4 x 8 sheet would do both sets of stairs. Off to Home Depot, we went, being that we have a Kia Soul the full sheet wouldn’t fit into the hatchback, so we had the cuts made at the store which cost $2.00 a cut. The first 2 cuts are free. The plywood cost $23.00, and we paid for 2 cuts. The entire wood for this project cost $28.00 plus taxes. We were gifted the 3rd cut. Thank you Home Depot!

I used scrap decking boards from the boardwalk project to reinforce the sides of the rises of which I attached from behind the stairs. The install of the risers took 4 hours. Prime, painting took 5 hours with an hour between coats. Stenciling took 2 for the stairs alone. So in total the entire riser project took 11 hours.

Paint and Stenciling

Beyond simply filling in the risers I wanted to enhance the energetic and visual appeal of the stairs. I wanted to draw the eye up and into the house as well as enriching both the Helpful People and Career Gua in-which our front stairs align to within the Bagua Map of our home. So I first primed and painted each riser with Behr BEHR Interior/Exterior Alkyd Semi-Gloss Enamel Paint in the colour of Benjamine Moore Grey Mist of which I do all my painted DIY projects. Grey Mist is a soft cream which is perfect for introducing the earth element which supports both of these guas. I had the Grey Mist and paint supplies from my previous projects so there was no additional cost here.

I then used a mosaic stencil I purchased for another project from Micheal’s Crafts and the paint colour of Behr Paints Hematite of which I used 2 design sample pots of the Hematite at $4.99+ taxes each for a total of $10.00 + taxes.   Beyond loving the name of this colour, grey is not only a metal element, but it is one of the colours that are associated with the Helpful People and Travel Gua. I was careful in choosing this mosaic stencil as I wanted something that had a circle within the design, which represent the shape of the metal element.


I used a roller on the risers but found that it used too much paint so when enhancing the risers and the first tread on the platform stairs I used my stencil brush which saved on paint. Lesson learned. The results are the same. The stencil was much larger than the 5″ of the risers, so I was careful to center the design so that the circle motif was defined. I wasn’t worried about perfection. I wanted the warn and weathered look that goes with our vintage Feng Shui Farmhouse, Shabby Chi, Boho Vibe. Wow! That’s a mouthful! lol

Platform Stairs

Although our platform stairs are a beautiful enhancement to our curb appeal, there has been the odd time when guests and family have been leaving our home during the evening that they’ve missed the first step as visually it blended into the boardwalk. Yes, they may have been chatting upon their departure and not fully paying attention, but the potential and risk of injury was there and needed to be rectified. Luckily no one had been hurt.

As a means to eliminate the risk of potential injury, I took the stencil project down to the first tread and riser of each of the platform stairs and steps of the boardwalk on both sides of our home right to the back gardens. Painting the risers wasn’t enough. I needed to do the first tread as well. I needed to catch the eye while creating a visual break between each step so that the boardwalk did not look like one continuous surface. Now if guest are distracted the definition of each stair can clearly be seen from the corner of their eye.




In total the DIY of these stair risers took 11 hours and cost approximately $40.00 and some change to enhance and enrich the Feng Shui Design of our curb appeal. The cost of painting and stenciling the platform stairs was only 2 hours of my time on a cloudy Sunday morning. I truly love the results and know that the investment of time and money have already paid off and will reap amazing results for some time.

The buzz this project has generated in our neighborhood has been lovely with people stopping to chat asking how, why, and what I’ve doing. “Is that tile?” “Stencil, really?” One lady stopped me saying, “my son said, mommy, this house is the prettiest house in the city!”

The other day while reading on the front porch I overheard a couple of young boys walking home from school when one of them said, “Wow! Those stairs are BEAUTIFUL!”

I’d be fudging if I didn’t admitted I enjoyed witnessing the reaction of others. But it’s not the reason why I do what I do. The creative process is in my soul and I truly desire to illustrate how Feng Shui Design can be beautiful, practical and seamlessly introduced into any design style. My neighbors don’t know what I do for a living. They simply know that I’m a lady that is always up to something and as my neighbor across the street said to my husband the other day “your wife’s always got something brewing in her head. Come stand over here and see how beautiful it is.” So we did, and we saw from his eyes and from his side of the street the beautiful view he has from his front porch and I was happy not only with the work that I did but with how delighted he and his wife were with the results. This my friends is the essence of my style of Feng Shui.