How To Pick The Perfect Stair Runner

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we were so lucky to move into a house that was in great shape when we started. But there were a few things I wanted to change.

Our Entry Hall Foyer Before

Our Entry Hall Foyer After

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We ripped up the floor tile and laid down hardwood floors, painted the walls a warm gray and lacquered up that bannister with some Pitch Black paint. And finally, a year after moving in, we replaced that wall-to-wall carpet with a stair runner (in a pattern called Fillmore in linen by Stanton Carpets).

It took me a long time to find the right runner! What is it about stair runners? It’s so hard to find the right material and the right pattern, am I right? I started off by swearing I was going to go with a sisal stair runner.  I mean, look at this beauty:

Courtesy of House Beautiful

I decided against sisal because it’s slippery. I had heard from enough “carpet experts” to dissuade me. Mental images of slipping with the baby in my arms gave me the shivers. My beautiful sisal stair runner will have to wait for a future house.

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There are all kinds of DIY stair runner options out there, too. This really caught my attention—made from small IKEA rugs:

Courtesy of Little Green Notebook

But then I saw this photo and my heart stopped—this was it!

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Courtesy of Michael Robert Construction

I was certain this was the stair runner for me.

But even if you think something is going to be perfect for your home, you have to see it in your own space because these rugs looked awful!

I brought a bunch of samples home—the charcoal, the navy and the gray. The colors were too much, too saturated for my space. How could they be so beautiful in the pictures and totally not right in my own home?

So, I ended up satisfying my urge for a graphic print, but went way neutral. Lighter than I ever thought I’d go.

Some takeaways from my stair runner hunt:

Bring home samples, and bring home a lot

Bring home a wide range of colors and patterns—stuff you don’t even think you’d ever use. You might be surprised!

Go quality

I love a good bargain, and I love budget budget budget. Why pay $600 for a side table when you can pay $60?  But when it comes to your front staircase, don’t cheap out.  Not only does it set the tone for the rest of your house, a more expensive material will likely be more durable than something cheap-o.

Be realistic

I had my heart set on sisal. But the material just wasn’t realistic for my needs—I needed something not slippery for teeny toddler feet or for moms carrying babies. Same goes for choosing color! I went super light, but we are a “no shoes indoors” family. If you wear shoes in your house, you can imagine the beating your rug will take—you’d likely have to go darker than I did!

Lorri Elder Dyner is an interior designer and blogger who believes in the power of “decorating for the rest of us.” Using clever, accessible, and affordable ideas, she brings us insider tips and tricks that make our living spaces feel pulled together. Lorri resides in Westchester with her husband and two small children. Visit her at

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Westchester Magazine editorial staff.

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