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Each room in Genie Norris’s Austin home is a take on vintage textiles—one features American crewel; another is inspired by Kenyan batik; and yet another is a riff on the patchwork in what she calls “crazy quilts.” When it came to finishing the stairs, the last project in her renovation, the design consultant and owner of Color Genie was determined to find a look that would stay on theme. 

The stairwell, before.

With 60 different paint colors throughout the home and nine different shades of doors opening up to the stairwell, one hue wouldn’t be enough to tie it all together. It had to be a print, but finding the right one turned out to be a “needle in a haystack” adventure. For days she sat at her laptop, surrounded by paint chips from spaces in her house, looking for a through line, and then a Bauhaus-inspired floor covering caught her eye. “I started thinking I wanted it to look like a quilt, then I found this vinyl based on a collage,” Norris says. “I actually did happy dances!” She reached out to the business owner to see if they could enlarge the design to fit the dimensions of her stair risers, they agreed, and the rest came together in a couple of days. “When you’re thinking about having someone paint a pattern the way I wanted it, you’re talking about a muralist,” Norris says, adding that the cost could’ve been thousands of dollars for two stories. “This vinyl was a few hundred; I put it on in a weekend with a utility knife and a credit card for the bubbles.” 

The last piece, which should’ve been the simplest (spoiler alert: it was not), was putting in the balusters. Norris wanted the space to bring in light and show off her favorite work of art (a family portrait by Elizabeth Chapin) but also needed to hide all the bolts and fasteners. The team at CG&S Design Build made it work by conceptualizing and constructing a floor-to-ceiling “screen” that appears to cut through every level seamlessly, but it wasn’t easy. It took several subcontractors—a welder, a Sheetrock expert, and flooring people, to name a few—to create the illusion of clean lines all the way through. 

The finishing touch? Each pole was brushed with Sherwin-Williams’s now-archived Gypsy Red. “Red is my neutral,” Norris says. “It’s what ties all the spaces together, so I knew that’s what I wanted to use there.” A word of advice from the color-theory pro: High-gloss finishes, especially in this pigment, tend to be tricky. “The painters wanted it to be perfect,, so they came back, coat after coat,” she explains. “It took eight layers, but everyone knew it would pay off.” And clearly, it did.