Stair Runners And The Huge Controversy Over Some Popular Fibers



Sorry no red, white and Blue post this year.

There have been some requests to do a post about staircase runners.

It’s a timely one for me, because I am working on one right now.

mary-stairs 2

Already, this most gracious entry has been transformed in a pleasing way. (above is the before, in case that’s not clear)


In my 20 years of being in business, I’ve probably done about 30 or so stair runners.

I have a few wholesale accounts where I get carpet from, (three of them are in Laurel’s Rolodex under the sources I can’t live without)

But, sometimes I use a carpet store who also does the installations for me.

For the first 10 years or so, this was my go-to runner that I did about half the time from Crucial Trading.


It’s a very handsome product made from sisal and wool. But… it is discontinued. This product is largely wool so the sisal in it is okay. (but again, it doesn’t exist as far as I know)


Do not be seduced by sisal!

We’ve been through this before.

Yes, yes… I know, I know…Sisal carpet proliferates in shelter magazines like a pair of mating gerbils locked together in a cage for a year.

jk kling sisal stair runner

JK Kling

And it is gorgeous! I love this image so much.

I love the way it looks.

But… just because you see it everywhere and it looks good in photos (where no one actually lives) doesn’t make it good.

In fact, Did you know that it was not the apple that tempted Eve and did her in?

I mean, a girl’s gotta eat. What’s wrong with a bloody apple?

adam and eve sisal rug

It wasn’t the apple. She and Adam got the boot from Eden because that damned snake talked them into the sisal carpet!

Oh, it looks good. For about 10 minutes until the cleaning lady spills her bucket of Mr. Clean while going up the stairs.

And then, you’re dead. It’s all over. Exiled out of the garden forever and forced to wear Birkenstocks for the rest of your life!

Sisal stains like crazy and it ain’t gonna recover. There’s some stuff you can get that they say buys more time if there’s a spill. Anyone have any experience with that? If so and it works, then fine, you can do sisal.


Otherwise, the next most common material is a wool with a pattern of some sort. staircase-rug-runner

They are roll runners and typically come in a width of 27″ but some companies like Nourison also carry a 36″ size.

Since these are runners, usually, we need to see a narrow margin of wood.


Attractive runner and I love the contrast with the white-painted floor.

Anyone, notice what’s wrong?

That’s right.

There’s too much of a margin and it’s really a shame because they only needed to split the difference with what is showing and it would’ve been perfect.

By the way, those rods you often see?

This is very important before you go out and spend a lot of money on something you don’t need.

They are purely decorative. They do not hold the carpet down or in place. So, get them if you like the way they look, otherwise, they are not necessary.

Check this next one out in a very large hotel. hotel du printemps stair runner too narrow

OMG! That runner is ridiculously too narrow! This ghastly mistake goes on for miles…

hotel du printemps

and miles…

It’s the Hotel Du Printemps — Holy Marie Antoinette! Heads are rolling over that one! (sorry, I couldn’t resist) :]

It’s an Axminster which means big bucks; undoubtedly custom-made and at least 12″ too narrow.

It’s not safe as it is!*

So how much wood should be showing?

It really depends on the width of the staircase, but the average amount of wood I like to see is 3-4″ but it can be as little as 1″ but really probably not much more than 6-8″ and here is the reason why.

*If someone is walking, they might need to hold on to the hand rail. If there’s too much of a wood margin the person might end up walking half on the wood and half on the stair runner.


So, what do you do if you want some sort of Oriental runner and the staircase is 4 feet wide or more and the standard runners are all too narrow?


You can use an Oriental broadloom and have it fabricated into a runner.

I’ve done this many times and it always looks terrific.


nourison broadloom oriental stair runners

Wool broadloom fabricated into a custom stair runner from Nourison.


King’s House Oriental Rugs

A stunning antique runner looks wonderful in this home


hemphills curved staircase runner

Hemphill’s Rugs and Carpets

I have never seen this before, but apparently, you can have a curved custom stair runner made. That would certainly help the installation folks.


A popular trend that’s also an enduring classic are animal print stair runners.

This is one that you either love or don’t love. :]


elements of style blog leopard staircase runner cheetah carpet

Elements of style

FYI the pattern is by Glen-Eden Carpets called Out of Africa.

blah cheetah staircase runner

Here’s the same carpet and it certainly looks nice but lacks the panache of Erin Gate’s carpet. Why is that? Erin created high style by painting her banister black and staining her floor a dark walnut color. The art wall also has some black frames.

And she accessorized with her cute black doggie. Shameless, but it works. I would’ve done the same. ;]

leopard print staircase runner

Another animal print runner. I love it against everything else painted white. Very fresh!

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 6.34.53 PM
The carpets above are quite expensive, but sometimes you can get a great deal on Overstock.

Designers, out there, I know that you’re cringing. But I am trying to share lots of options and price levels.

This runner which I guess is a close out from Safavieh is only 100 bucks for a 30″ by 1o’ runner. So, if have 14 steps, you’d need 4 of them to allow for waste and so forth. The ends would need to be cut off.

Is installing a Stair Runner a job one can do themselves?


I wouldn’t, but lots of people have and you can find zillions of tutorials in pinterest, but here’s a great one from Annie Selke manufacturer of Dash and Albert products


stair runner dash and albert diamond khaki



This is one of the Dash and Albert runners that has a sisal look but it’s actually indoor/outdoor carpeting. We did this last year and it turned out great.


geometric stair runner hall carpet

Carpet Workroom

This is a very nice site with lots of examples of gorgeous stair runners. I chose this one because we must be mindful if we’re going to shift carpets once we get upstairs. This one isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either. I would probably have done a lighter pattern on the rug to coordinate with the hall. I don’t recommend a solid navy because everything will show on it.


staircase runner louid de poortere

A  wall to wall installation, or wall to spindle rather. I don’t know if I would ever do this bright stripe, but it is pretty cool in this setting, I think. Wool carpet by Louis De Poortere via Kristoffersen Carpet.

stair sharpay

If wall-to-wall, none of this Sharpay business. Okay?


And yikes! Sisal aside– none of this either!

And please paint the risers white. If everything is wood, then of course, they would be stained. But they should be the same color as the trim.


stair runners prestige mills wilton loop carpet

Here’s one you’ve undoubtedly seen before. It’s a looped Wilton Weave made popular by Stark Carpets. (owned by Prestige Mills so some of the products are the same) It’s in every country club that God ever created. Usually with a floral border. No comment.

However, these weaves don’t do well on stairs. Just saying, because this product is very expensive.

Here Are Some Definite Do’s In Stair Runners


jodi fleming - fleming-homes stair runner

Jodi Fleming

Tailored and ever so chic!

stair runners wool sisal

Wool Sisal from Prestige Mills – A bit pricey, but also very pretty and one that I’ve done several times. herringbone staircaserunner

Carpet Workroom

A handsome wool, it looks like on a curved staircase.

stair runner home captiva florida zillow1

Pretty sick, huh? It’s from a real estate listing in Florida. Actually, there is no margin but it’s not a very wide staircase and I think it would detract from the way cool custom border.

hampton designer show house habituallychic 068


Handsome application at the Hampton Designer Showhouse. Photo by Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic  The carpet is a wool sisal-look with a classic Greek Key Trim.

I adore fabric trim on natural fiber rugs.

This brings me to our next topic…

However, this is already getting really long and it’s a holiday weekend. Sorry to leave you hanging, but on Tuesday I’ll discuss the other fiber some say you must never do (but many including me, disagree) for your stair runners and a few more technical things about stair runner installation you need to know.



Please have a safe and fun holiday if you’re in the states!



PS: If anyone is interested, a reader informed me that there’s a Stark Rug sale happening on One King’s Lane right now.




8th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2021 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

63 Responses

  1. Hi Laurel,
    I’ve been reading your staircase series from this summer as we attempt to pick out a runner. They are so helpful as always, thank you! One question for you about wool runners. You mentioned that the county club pattern from prestige mills had a weave that did not hold up well over time. Is it just that product in particular or all looped wools? We’re looking at a few tufted loop pile wool carpets, for example this one ( Do looped wools not hold up well? We would like a neutral wool, not an oriental, but those all seem to be looped.

    Thanks so much in advance! Emma

    1. Hi Emma,

      That’s a very good question. The small looped needle-point-type weave is a Wilton and some are better than others. It also depends on useage.

      The one you showed me is something else. Maybe a Berber?

      The best advice I have is to discuss it with your supplier and/or manufacturer. Believe me, the store you get it from wants you to be happy and not come complaining that the carpet didn’t perform well. They should be able to steer you in the right direction for you.

  2. Hi Laurel,
    What is the color of the dash and albert diamond runner? I ordered swatches but I ordered the graphite diamond and it’s too dark. It’s hard to tell online. Is it the fieldstone? Thanks!


    1. Hi Laura,

      That is the khaki colorway. It’s really a warm beige and a soft white. I have the 2 x 3 in my bathroom. Actually, it was a sample. haha.

      1. Hi Laurel,
        It’s lovely. It looks like a light grey in the photo. It’s the staircase with the little dog. Are we talking about the same one? 😀

  3. Hi Laurel. This post you did has been on my mind for months. I moved recently and renovated the first floor, including all new hardwoods in place of carpet. We ran out of money before we could tackle the stairs to the basement. So there is still the old (dirty) carpet on the stairs that doesn’t even match the lower level carpeting. I have to do something about it, but can’t afford new hardwood. I’m thinking a DIY project using paint and installing a runner. My question is this: I have never lived with carpet and didn’t really appreciate the safety factor on the stairs. Does a runner provide the same sense of safety? I have balance problems (head injury), plus I have three grandchildren under three. Are runners safe for little ones? Thanks. That animal print runner is a scroll stopper.

    1. Hi Teri,

      Stairs are stairs. And they are inherently unsafe, IMO. One misstep and carpet or no carpet we could take a tumble. As to whether it is safer to have a runner or bare wood? Part of that has to do with what is on our feet. I can’t answer for anyone whether or not they feel it’s safer to have a runner or not. I did live without one on our stairs for 22 years. I’m the only one who ever fell and it was UP the stairs lol and I landed on my hands on the landing unhurt. There were a couple of close calls but fortunately never fell.

  4. I agree with all the comments about sisal (my husband spilled an espresso on it approximately 15 minutes after we got it, and that was the end of that rug! lol), but I just don’t understand the seagrass love. We had a seagrass rug in our last house, and it looked great, but my husband referred to it as the “carpet of pain.” Our grandchildren hated it also; they’d play on the bare hardwood rather than sit on that rug!

    Did we get a bad brand? Is everyone else just made of tougher stuff than us? 😉

    1. Hi Tracie,

      I’m going to be talking about seagrass in Sunday’s post. But… some are a little softer than others. However, it’s true, sea grass is not a lounging-play-on-the-floor type rug. But it’s wonderful to layer something softer on top, but use a rug pad, or the seagrass will eat the other rug!

  5. Great post, Laurel – so informative! Another practical consideration for me in deciding ‘to runner or not to runner’ is whether the homeowner really likes to clean, i.e. vacuum; and if not, whether ‘home help’ i.e. a cleaning person, is in the budget. I’ve had hardwood stairs with a runner in a previous home, and they looked great, but it was really a drag for me to clean and vacuum them. It was a hands-and-knees, multiple-tool multiple-pass endeavor, which necessitated lots of retrieving as the crevice tool, etc. had inevitably tumbled down the stairs when I moved on to the next step! I grew to hate those stairs!

    Now I have pale oak HW treads and painted risers to match the trim, which transition beautifully in my split-stair, split-level home between pale oak HW flooring and Montauk Blue natural slate. I had my risers painted professionally with a SW oil-based satin enamel, and after a quick sweep of the stairs with a broom, I just wipe away the occasional scuff mark with a damp rag. So much easier! I guess like anything it is a personal decision, dependent on one’s own idea of acceptable maintenance effort.

    P.S. I agree with you about sisal upkeep and comfort. Because they were inexpensive, I has sisal rugs in my DR and LR when my daughter was learning to walk. Those poor little baby knees, deeply imprinted with rough and scratchy rug marks, and captured on digital video to boot! She had the last word, however, as they were stained beyond recognition and had to be thrown out by the time she was 2!

    1. Hi Borah,

      I also didn’t have a stair runner in my old home because most of the living dining area that it opened up to was bare floor and it would’ve looked funny.

      I’ve had so many comments about sisal in addition to everything I’ve read. I’ve actually never done it because of all of the stories I’ve heard over the years.

  6. I need to replace the area rug in my dining room and I was thinking of getting a braided jute one this time. How is jute for dirt resistant and wear?

    1. Hi Laurie,

      Jute is great for maintenance but if the dining room is getting a lot of use, there might be a problem with the chair legs and the looser weave. If it’s only a special occasion room, then it should be fine.

      However, I would do sea grass in a dining room. Not only is it exceedingly durable, it is inherently stain resistant.

      1. Thanks for the advice. I will look into the sea grass too. I was trying to figure out which natural fiber would work the best as I what a natural/neutral color to add textural interest only so I don’t have to worry about clashing against drapes (I currently have a floral motif rug with sheer swags and was going to update the room with geometric print drapes and a rug without any print, just texture. The floor is hardwood with white woodwork trim. The room is used occasionally–mainly with company or at holidays. Otherwise we just eat at the kitchen table (no kids just hubby and me) so it won’t get a huge amount of traffic.

        1. Hi Laurie,

          Then sea grass will be perfect for you. Please use it with a rug pad as the backing on a seagrass rug is latex and you don’t want that against your floor. I heartily recommend Fibreworks for your rugs. I order through their trade division, but I think they sell retail too.

        2. I didn’t know you needed to add a rug pad under the seagrass! Thank you for that advice!

        3. Hi Dolores,

          It might be okay, but one it’ll help preserve the life of the rug from keeping it from shifting and also if there are changes in the heat/humidity, they latex might begin to stick to the floor.

        4. Yes, seagrass is very practical. I had a seagrass rug under my table while my 3 boys were infant to little boy age. Spills either came up right away or worked their way out except for red jello. The dog wasn’t too easy on it either, and we doused it with Nature’s Miracle a few times (a liquid cleaner). It did well for about 8 years when we decided it was looking old and the binding bad. Now I have a Stanton synthetic that has a diamond pattern. It shows a few more stains, but I like its sisal look too. Seagrass might smell like hay for the first week? or so, by the way, so don’t get it the day before a party.

        5. I bought a cheapy seagrass rug from Overstock last year to use under the dining room table- and I’m telling you, it wears like iron. I didn’t even have it down for one week, when my two year old grandson knocked his entire bowl of meatballs & sauce off the high chair!:-) I scraped off as much as I could, and washed the rest off with a sponge- and there are no stains on that carpet!

  7. Hi Laurel, I’ve always wondered if there is a rule about installing a stair runner starting from the floor up or starting from the first step up?

    1. Hi Christine,

      I don’t think there’s a rule. I’ve seen it done both ways, but I prefer the runner to wrap under the first tread and not go down to the floor.

      For the top step, it does usually look better if the first riser is covered.

  8. Helpful article and quite timely for us. However, wouldn’t white painted risers show every scuff mark and need frequent touch-up? Doesn’t sound too practical unless you can ensure everyone religiously removes shoes, and slippers are soft sole. Even then…?

    1. Hi Christine,

      Well, if there’s a runner, then no problem at all. But if one has hardwood floors and wants to keep them looking nice, then I would suggest no hard-soled shoes that can scuff.

      We lived with a staircase with no runner and two wild boys (understatement) and scuff marks were rare and did clean up with a mild cleaner. Repainting wasn’t necessary, except when the entire home needed it.

  9. Laurel, I’m a Miltonist and have taught “Paradise Lost” more times than I can number, so I knew that about Sisal and Eve. I did not, however, know that Adam had a tattoo on his lower leg until I saw your illustration. Thanks for that. Live and learn, I say.

    I can’t tell you how right I think you are about being practical about the “rules” governing how much of tread should show on stairwell coverings. Doctors must swear first of all “to do no harm.” Folks designing stair coverings should follow the same principle. People should be able to walk comfortably (right foot/left foot)on each covered tread. Rules matter little if they create danger.

    Speaking of which, that Florida staircase with the BRIGHT turquoise carpet-with-lapping-white-waves is absolutely dizzying. I never before knew stairs could produce seasickness.

    While my wooden stairwells (white risers) have served me well and will stay, I love the oriental carpeted stairs you showed. Gorgeous and especially useful if the wall has art. Seems to balance the colors. Good job on a topic that is too little considered.

    1. Hi Gaye,

      I bet you’re a fantastic professor. Alas… while I’ve certainly heard of Paradise Lost, I never read it (or if I did, I Cliff Noted it as I dashed off to ballet classes and rehearsals in high school) I had to look up the term Miltonist.

      But I gather that I am a natural one without realizing it. One needs a healthy dose of irreverence and a soupcon (or maybe a barrel full) of sarcasm to repudiate “history” that almost definitely never happened in the first place.

      Did I get any of that right?

      BTW, there are some patterns that make me dizzy and nauseous too. Like I mean, I really cannot look at them without feeling sick!

  10. Hello Laurel,
    We are about to embark on replacing all of the flooring in our home with hardwood (no laminates!). One of the details that I’m still considering the whether to have a runner on the stairs or not. Your comments and photos were very helpful, but I wanted to comment on one in particular….the stairs with the red striped carpet! In my experience and opinion as an interior designer and user of stairs, patterns or finishes should never be used on stairs, or even just steps, that disguise the fact that there is a level change! With stripes, in either direction, the level change is secondary to the stripe which leads the eye forward, thus creating a potentially dangerous situation. Just my opinion, for what it’s worth. Something to consider.

    1. Hi Patricia,

      Yes, that’s something to consider, for sure, but unless there’s something wrong with the steps, our minds know where the next step is supposed to be if you’ve ever walked up or down a staircase where they goofed, you can feel it, right? I think it behooves everyone to walk up and down the stairs carefully.

      Lighting is also important.

      Last summer I was at Lincoln Center and it was raining heavily when I came out of the theater, alone. If you’ve ever been there, there’s a large concourse to traverse… It was really difficult to see anything because it was surprisingly dark and as I said raining heavily when all of a sudden, the ground wasn’t where I thought it was going to be. I nearly busted my butt but caught myself just in time. I did not see that first step at all and fortunately, they are exceptionally deep treads and maybe only 5″ risers. I can’t be the first person to do that, but who knows?

  11. Hi Laura, My husband and I recently purchased a waterfront condo. The sale also included the furniture in the condo(Yea!) but the sale did not include one important piece of furniture- a sofa. Since I had just purchased a new sofa for our home, it made sense for me to use the new sofa in the condo. But, it doesn’t’t go with any of the new furniture. I think slip covers are my only hope. Could you do a blog on slip covers ?

    1. Hi Connie,

      Great idea on both fronts. I adore slip covers and it solves a lot of issues for a lot less money than it would cost to buy a new sofa. (unless it’s a super-cheap sofa), but I love the look.

      My only caveat is the slip covers should be chic, not shabby. :]

      I’ll add slipcovers to the list.

  12. Laurel I have always loved the look of a beautiful stair runner. That said, I am SO happy to be moving to a house with all hardwood flooring, no carpeting. My current stairs are carpeted and let me tell you what a pain they are to vacuum not to mention how easy they are to slip on. I am excited just to be able to just dry mop a staircase and not drag out heavy machinery!!

    (So happy to discover the REAL REASON Adam and Eve got expelled from The Garden!)

    1. lol – yes, of course. How could it possibly be because she ate an apple? Really? Like give the poor woman an eating disorder. Pardon my irreverence.

      But yes… people love to say that certain products are slippery on stairs. Regular old cut pile broadloom is the slipperiest of them all!

      25 years ago, our old townhouse had wall to wall carpeting. It was the happiest day of my life when we ripped it all out and put in a hardwood floor. Couldn’t do it upstairs because we just couldn’t, but we put in a commercial nylon that I loved from Lee Carpets. I don’t recommend it though because it has a tendency to grow in the summer (and bubble) and then shrink back in the winter. Weird, but it’s because of the backing. But otherwise, it was terrific.

  13. Hi, Laurel! Again thank you so much for your wonderful blog!
    We have just finished the stairs couple days ago. For 2 years since we moved into our home, I am fighting with yellow wood abundant here – trim, doors, windows and, of course, staircase…… I painted raiser white and stained threads very dark brown almost black as well as changed rods for iron ones. It’s was very difficult to choose the runner. We have staircase with landing and we had to order custom made wool runner. I would like to share a picture if you can take a moment to look. Overall, we are quite pleased with the results. It was a lot of work. I had to redo the stain 3 times. Sanding, sanding, and again a lot of sanding. I thought, this project will be never done.
    By the way, what do you think about black interior doors? Looks like it’s somewhat trendy today. I painted the one to the office black, and got really discouraged. Looks very stylish with white trim, but for me (being perfectionist ;(( would be hard to deal with scratch marks and dust…I literally can draw on them with my nail…..and I am sure my kids would as soon as they discover they can do it 🙁 The scratches are soooo noticeable on the black paint. And because the enamel with great flow features cannot be tinted that dark color (I had to use all purpose enamel from Sherwin Williams). the brushmarks are inevitable as well on the black.
    Happy 4th of July!

    1. Hi Nataliya,

      I’d love to see your runner!

      I do love black doors and trim but it has to be the right situation.

      15 years ago, long before it was trendy, I did a seagrass rug in a family room. BTW, a little foreshadowing, but this was a family of SIX and two hyper manic greyhounds. Okay???

      The client did various projects over the years and a couple of years later she told me that the seagrass was the most wonderful, forgiving, easy to take care of durable thing in the entire home!

      Anywho. We layered it with a much smaller rug, a Chinese Needlepoint with a black background. We did a sage green human-scale ;] sectional, a wonderful leather chair from Milling Rd (before it got insanely expensive) and a custom black wrought iron and glass coffee table and of course a few other things.

      We had a built-in bookcase/TV cabinet created which I had a decorative artist coordinate with the sofa in a green strie. Gorgeous! We painted the walls in a similiar sage green. Then, we painted the baseboards black and the french doors – black and the rest of the trim we kept green around the windows. But let me tell you, this room was so wonderful and every time I came over just had to go in because it was very family-friendly, but also very pretty and stylish.

      I’m not sure I followed your entire story with the doors or tinting it black since BM makes several great blacks.

      Actually, for the job, I was talking about, we used Fine Paints of Europe. They make a great black and as I said it was durable and looked terrific.

  14. You should checkout the post on the Wit & Delight blog featuring an update to her stairs that I found clever and successful.

  15. Thank you for setting the record straight about sisal. As I’ve said before, your first sisal rug is always your last sisal rug. They are terribly impractical and also uncomfortable for bare feet. I don’t care for the way they look either. But I must take issue about stair runners and how much wood tread shows on either side. Rule of thumb is that no less than 3″, but ideally 6″ or more should show on either side of the carpet to look right. Most people hold the handrail and have no problem with walking on the edge because the arm is extended. The brown and black one with the rods is actually spot on, as far as measurements. The Hotel Printemps is fine also. A runner is just that – a runner – not an area rug. Although American, my training was mostly in Europe, and that is the accepted way there. As you say, one should never wall to wall carpet a staircase. It looks absolutely dreadful and outré. The blue wave runner is spectacular. I have that photo in my Pinterest board. And I prefer the Hollywood finish, where the carpet is fitted and stapled under the tread, rather than just straight down to the next step. Very useful post (and entertaining too) and I look forward to your next one.

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      I did learn from 3-6 also but over the years, really prefer less wood showing, but it depends. And perhaps it’s a matter of preference, but the ones I presented look strange and skimpy to me.

      So I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. :]

      I also don’t like wall to wall but the Louis De Poortere vivid red stripe looks chic to me in that situation.

      I also prefer the Hollywood or fitted over the nose of the tread runner vs. waterfall. I didn’t address that in this post because it was already getting to be too long but will address it in the next.

      That and that controversial fiber that’s most designers’ favorite.

      Who knew that stair runners could be such a complex topic?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Have just discovered your blog a few months back and love it. Curious if there is ever an instance where you would wrap the stair treads? I love the look of a runner but don’t think I could do it on my stair case. Ours starts out wide and open in our entry hall but after 4 steps it narrows with an angled wall on the right while on the left it stays open for 7 steps. At that point it is enclosed on both sides going the rest of the way to the top. So currently the 7 steps on the left and 4 on the right have carpet wrapping the tread. Fortunately it doesn’t look as ghastly as the shag carpet example you gave! I would like to use a pattern, but I’m thinking a curvy or all over pattern since there is already such a strong angle. Plus I’ve seen too many geometric patterns that are crooked and it drives me nuts! It’s quite perplexing as to how to address it but after 23 years it’s time for new carpet one way or the other!

  17. Happy Fourth!

    Just chiming in with my humble opinion. I don’t get the whole cover beautiful wood stairs with carpet and not to mention trying to vacuum them. I suppose if the wood is nasty and refinishing them isn’t in the cards … I guess I’m just a wood type gal :)) I must admit that I love the blue with white Florida stairs – its not for me, but I wouldn’t snicker about it behind my hand either if I saw this at a friends house.

    I agree about sisal, I had a beautiful area rug made of sisal, nice to look at, awful to walk on with bare feet (yes we walk around with bare feet except late at night so’s not to step in fresh cat upchuck), can scratch the floor, yadda, yadda, yadda it was a good day when I finally tossed it.

    Absolutely love your blog, you inspired me to use BM Van Deusen blue in both my kitchen and living/dining room with white trim in my shotgun style house.


    1. Hi Betty,

      Thanks so much!

      A little secret. I lived in a townhouse with a winding (not spiral) staircase for 22 years and never put in a runner for a lot of the reasons you said.

      But of course, I do them all the time for clients.

  18. Laurel, thank you, thank you, thank you! This could not have come at a better time for myself as am currently sourcing flooring which entails the covering of two separate, five foot wide staircases both of which are adjacent to one another but lead to different areas and are visual from the rest of the home where installation of hardwood flooring is otherwise anticipated. In conclusion; looking forward to part two as you have already confirmed so much re choice, installation etc. -Brenda-
    P.S.: My guess re the photo where the integration of flooring could be better is the one with the black and white harlequin (?) tile format. Yes? No?

    1. Hi Mrsben,

      Glad this helped. Stairs can be so complex for all of these reasons. They literally are like puzzle pieces.

      No, I love the one with the black and white floor because I am looking at the image as a whole. I think it’s very chic.

      The one that I’m not so crazy about is the navy runner with the geometric pattern butted up against the upstairs hall boring beige.

      It looks like that was already there and the homeowners wanted to freshen up the stairs.

      1. Laurel, it is a puzzle for certain and in my situation the staircases are not only creating a visual quandary but they lead to different areas with totally different functions and as well are unfortunately ‘not’ hardwood. That said; my best option as it stands at present is to carpet them completely since refacing just their step so I am told, will cause a domino effect problem in elevation and replacing them entirely with H/W due to an outrageous expense is out of the question. Re the image; yes I see what you mean and totally agree that the beige does looks blah compared to the runner. (It was my 2nd choice. As for my guess bad me and lesson learned … ☺.) Wishing you a HAPPY 4th of JULY.

        1. Hi Brenda,

          Oh not at all bad! I don’t expect everyone to like everything I do and vice versa. I don’t know the style of your home and it’s certainly a little unorthodox, but I’m wondering if anyone has every painted their plywood and put in a runner.

          Just thinking out loud. :]

          But it’s also my training to consider every single possibility I can think of.

  19. There’s a nice selection of Stark rugs on sale at right now.

  20. Thanks for the informative post!

    I love the before and after that you designed at the top. Do you have a post that shows the ‘after’ stairs?


  21. I can’t thank you enough for all of the HOURS of hard work you put into your “Laurel Home Paint Color Collection”. I bought it just as I had painters coming in to paint my living room and kitchen.

    My kitchen wall runs into the back wall of my dining room and I wanted color in the kitchen so it had to work with my dining room and living room walls which run into each other.

    I chose Saybrook Sage for my kitchen and back dining room wall and Niveous for the remaining D.R. and L.R. walls. They look beautiful together. The green undertone in the Niveous works beautifully with the Saybrook Sage. I chose white dove for the trim and doors. THANK YOU! I love, love your colors.

    1. Hi Julie,

      Thank you so much for the wonderful endorsement! It WAS an uncountable number of hours and in the middle of it, I stopped for a second and thought, am I barking mad?

      Fortunately, I have a couple of wonderful people who encouraged me to keep going and so I did. Thank heaven for them!

    2. Julie if it worked for you it can work for me; just bought Laurel’s paint guide and Rolodex! Going to the print shop right now to get them bound for easier reading. Would love to see pics of your kitchen, DR and LR walls! Sounds perfect.

      1. Thank you Karen! I’m very proud of both of my guides! And I use them myself! Great time saver!

        In fact, I was so hyperfocused when creating the rolodex that sometimes when I go back to find something, I’ll see a (a more obscure) source and think, wow! I got that one in there. I didn’t even remember putting it in!

  22. Carpet rods are not decorative – they have a very important function. They do hold the carpet down and allow for it to be moved up and down to manage wear. The carpet on the treads can be shifted so it covers the risers instead. After a period of time, it gets moved back to covered the treads.

    1. Hi Carol,

      Nothing moves in my carpet installations and therefore, rods (which I’ve never used) are decorative. The carpet is tacked and stapled down and stays in one place. In fact, sometimes, the carpet needs to be applied in pieces, especially on a curved staircase, so moving it would be impossible, for that reason alone. I’ve never heard of a moveable stair runner. I would think a stair runner that is capable of moving would be dangerous.

  23. Awesome post as always! I am currently looking for a runner and this is a huge help! One question can the runner extend right up into the hall? What are your thoughts? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Michele,

      Yes, absolutely! I will try to address that next time or in a different post. There is one photo here where I showed what I think is not the most sucessful integration between runner and hall. It certainly can be the same carpet but sometimes it’s not possible because it would be too much or the homeowners don’t want to change everything. But the two need to coordinate, of course.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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