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Choosing a Stair Runner: Some Inspiration and Lessons Learned

Stair case in house showing a stair runner

Choosing a Stair Runner: Some Inspiration and Lessons Learned


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:

entry hall before
Our Entry Hall Foyer After:

staircase 1


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:

 full frontal 3



staircase 2

The carpet is 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:

sisal black ribbon

 Via House Beautiful


Or this!  Isn’t this rug just fabulous?  I love that it lends some interest through pattern and texture but you can still go crazy with colors nearby and not worry about clashing with the rug:


nail head trim

Via Pinterest


A “dragon tail” sisal rug.  So creative!  Of course, I can just see my one year old trying to eat the nail heads.

dragon tail stair runner

 Via Pinterest

I decided AGAINST sisal because it’s slippery!  I had heard from enough “carpet experts” to dissuade me.  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…



greek key stair runner

 Via Pinterest

A close cousin of the sisal stair runner would be the grain sack.  I thought about it… but I just couldn’t imagine grain sack material would hold up under my young family’s feet!

But wouldn’t it be great for a set of “back stairs” or a beach cottage?

grain sack stair runner


I actually think this Chevron stair runner is divine – polished and mature and really packs a design punch!  I would readily encourage a client of mine to use it.  But for me personally, it would be too much Chevron – already have the same rug in my family room.

funky chevron


Have you seen the leopard print stair runner trend lately?  I love that it’s a little edgy but still traditional.

leopard stair runner



Here’s a great leopard one – if this photo is familiar it’s because this is the editor of Real Simple. This photo is always next to her “editor’s letter”:

real simple leopard stair runner



I absolutely love this look.  When in doubt, PAINT!  This is great for a back staircase or a casual, funky house.

red stair runner

Via Pinterest


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

DIY stair runner

Via Little Green Notebook

I don’t know if I’d ever have the guts to put a bright green rug on my staircase, but isn’t this fun?

green stair runner


Maybe when I’m in my “Auntie Mame” phase later in life.


I saw this photo and my heart stopped.  This is IT!!!

dark blue stair runner

Via Michael Robert Construction

Here it is again, in gray!  Yippee!

gray graphic


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??

Same thing with the David Hicks Honeycomb pattern which I adore, pictured here:

hicks stair runner


I’m telling you, the colors and the pattern were just too much for my little foyer.  

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



 Fillmore Pattern in “Linen”, by Stanton


staircase 3

New stair runner, paired with my beloved black lacquered banister:

staircase 4

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 would 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 stair case, 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 will likely have to go darker than I did!

staircase 6


stair runner inspiration

  • Anna

    February 2, 2014 at 8:55 PM Reply

    Curious how the runner has held up? We are considering this for our new house as well.

    • Lorri

      February 11, 2014 at 2:44 PM Reply

      So far so good! It’s only been several months so it’ll be interesting to see what it looks like in three years! I would definitely recommend it if you are a “no shoes indoors” family. Otherwise, go for something darker and / or a tougher material. Good luck!

  • Anette

    February 6, 2014 at 12:32 PM Reply

    I’m really interested in the leopard print rug runner. I will like to know where did you purchased it?

  • Shira

    April 30, 2014 at 9:37 AM Reply

    Did you install the runner yourself? Or did you have a carpeting professional handle it?

  • canvas wall art sydney

    May 23, 2014 at 4:42 PM Reply

    I need to to thank you for this excellent read!!

    I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you saved as a favorite to look at
    new stuff you post…

    • Lorri

      May 25, 2014 at 7:54 AM Reply

      Thanks for your comment! So glad you follow my blog!

  • Denise

    July 14, 2014 at 10:05 PM Reply

    You said sisal was slippery, but you didn’t say what carpet was the least slippery? It’s the number one question on my mind as I try to figure out what runner to install on my stairs.

    • Lorri

      July 23, 2014 at 7:59 AM Reply

      Hi Denise! I think just regular carpet is going to be less slippery than sisal, which just gets really slick (or so I was told!). We’ve had our stair runner now for several months (and I’m up and down several times a day), and so far so good! Good luck choosing your runner!

      • Denise

        July 28, 2014 at 9:17 AM Reply

        Is it wool or nylon?

  • Debbie Gartner aka The Flooring Girl

    July 15, 2014 at 7:57 AM Reply

    I love many of the runners here, especially the fillmore line from Stanton. Neutrals w/ 2 colors (like this or the sisal) have become very popular in our area.

  • Kerry

    August 16, 2014 at 8:50 PM Reply

    I was wondering why you chose a full runner instead of just individual step carpet? My husband and I are debating 🙂 Is there an advantage over one or othe other? Which is more “in style?” Thanks!

    • Lorri

      August 21, 2014 at 11:15 AM Reply

      Hi Kerry, thanks for your comment! I think you mean just covering the tread of the step rather than a whole runner running down the staircase? By all means you can do an individual step carpet, and in certain cases I know it could look great. But I do think that is a much more casual look, so just bear that in mind for your specific project. Also, I would be so curious to hear about the cost – it’s less carpet to be sure, BUT you’ll have to have the carpet cut and bound into small pieces so I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the cost came out the same as a full runner. Hope this helps!

  • Meg

    September 13, 2014 at 8:37 PM Reply


    We have almost the exact same foyer 🙂 We painted the railing black but are deciding on a wall color and runner. Yours looks awesome! I was wondering if you could tell me what the exact wall color is.


    • Lorri

      September 15, 2014 at 11:46 AM Reply

      The wall color is Benjamin Moore’s Inner Balance. Glad you like it!

  • JandB

    October 20, 2014 at 8:07 AM Reply

    hi, stanton filmore looks great on the stairs…we are looking to do the same. Can you share with us few things?

    1- how was it installed…padding, tackless, staples, etc?
    2-the binding looks great…what is that material, not the regular cotton i assume?

    thank you so much!

    • Lorri

      October 20, 2014 at 1:45 PM Reply

      We had our runner professionally installed so I wasn’t totally on top of the process, but I know they put padding underneath and used a staple gun to staple it to the stairs. The binding is just standard – probably a synthetic or a synthetic blend. They had thicker binding option but I like the thin binding – helps the rug itself to shine! Sorry I don’t have more specifics. I used a carpet / rug store for installation and everything, so just went with what they had available!

  • Megann

    January 29, 2015 at 1:41 AM Reply

    so happy I stumbled upon your blog – this runner is exactly what we were looking for! Do you happen to know the wood floor color/stain?

    • Lorri

      January 29, 2015 at 5:50 AM Reply

      Hi Megann! I’m so sorry but I don’t know the name of the stain. When we had our floors done the guy painted a bunch of samples for me on the floor and I just pointed to the one I liked! I’d say it’s one step lighter than a “walnut”. Sorry I can’t be of more help. Best of luck! Thanks for reading!

  • Ingrid

    April 20, 2015 at 3:20 PM Reply

    This may be a personal question, but about how much did you spend on this runner and installation? We got an estimate for a Stanton runner for our staircase (which turns) and our hallway, and the price just blew me away. I was just wondering if it was because of the Stanton brand/material or due to installation.

  • Ann-Marie Pope

    August 8, 2015 at 9:29 AM Reply


    Are your treads wood all the way across, or do you have the edges of the tread wood with carpet and padding up the center covering the raw built stair tread?

    • Lorri Dyner

      August 13, 2015 at 10:42 AM Reply

      Hi Ann-Marie – the stairs are a stained wood all the way across. If you’re building new, you can absolutely leave the middle of the step raw.

  • Ethel

    August 21, 2015 at 3:27 PM Reply

    All of these examples are so beautiful! Choosing the right color can make a staircase look like it goes on forever. The staircase with the solid green runner is really fun and it adds character to the room. This is a fun article, thanks!

    • Lorri Dyner

      August 24, 2015 at 2:46 PM Reply

      Thanks Ethel! I appreciate your comment and thanks for reading!

  • Sue Smith

    August 22, 2015 at 7:49 AM Reply

    Love the transformation of your hallway! I am in search of a runner for my stairway. Love Stanton. It is a tough search. I am single.so the stairs won’t take too much of a beating. My question is whether you found any other options in nylon.. Also, have you looked into carpet cleaning yet? I’m very tempted by another Stanton wool style very similar to Filmore but don’t want to have to replace it in 3 years. Thanks!

    • Lorri Dyner

      August 24, 2015 at 2:45 PM Reply

      Hi Sue – I tend to prefer wool for front stairways because they are high quality and sturdy, BUT there are increasing options that are definitely stylish in nylon and similar materials. I haven’t found anything specific….that may be a good future blog post!! In terms of cleaning, we spilled a cup of coffee on our bottom step and I had a guy come to steam clean it. Came right out! The key is to keep the spill damp – so I kept damp towels over the stain until the guy could come several hours later.

  • Regina Thibodeau

    October 6, 2015 at 8:09 AM Reply

    I love the fillmore pattern. Would linen go with gray walls?

    • Lorri Dyner

      October 26, 2015 at 6:25 PM Reply

      Hi Regina! YES! My walls are gray and it goes *great* with the linen color. Bear in mind, though, that my gray walls are a WARM gray not a cold, steely gray. Specifically, the color is Inner Balance by Benjamin Moore. So before you buy, just hold up a carpet sample next to your paint to be sure they complement each other. Good luck!

  • Barbara Lemieux

    November 14, 2015 at 8:37 PM Reply

    I like that your handrail is darker than your hardwood flooring.. What type of oak iare your hardwood floors and what colour of stain did you use on them?

    • Lorri Dyner

      November 16, 2015 at 1:17 PM Reply

      Hi Barbara,
      I don’t remember the exact stain we used on our hardwood floors but they are definitely in the”walnut” category. I’m sorry I don’t know! I would recommend getting a photo of a floor you like (like mine) and taking it to your flooring guy to see if he can match it. Good luck!

  • elaine mcnelly

    May 14, 2016 at 12:37 PM Reply

    “My beautiful sisal stair runner will have to wait for a future house”. Just wondered why you are even considering to use sisal in future if you think it’s so slippery?

    • Lorri Dyner

      May 23, 2016 at 9:51 AM Reply

      Hi Elaine, you make a great point. I think I was worried about the runner being slippery with little kids in the house (they are more prone to slips and falls, and also I can’t imagine trying to balance a baby on my hip and a slippery stair!). But enough people have them in their houses that I don’t think it’s too treacherous. I envision a sisal stair runner in my “dream house” when the kids are grown!!

  • Tye Tolentino

    November 3, 2016 at 8:52 PM Reply

    Is the gray oprion carpet u were originally set on also the Stanton line? I’m trying to find that one.

    • Lorri Dyner

      November 7, 2016 at 7:26 PM Reply

      Hi Tye – The original gray one I liked is a David Hicks design called Tessio. You can ask your local carpet store if they carry it – that’s how we found it for my client in Navy. You can also do an online search, but I’m not certain about pricing…I feel like carpet stores online can be a bit sketchy. You can find many more ideas and carpet resources on my Pinterest page here: https://www.pinterest.com/LorriDesign/stair-runners-my-inspiration-and-lessons-learned/
      Good luck!!

  • Deborah Woodbury

    November 4, 2016 at 5:19 PM Reply

    Great information and pictures! Is the same carpet in the hallway upstairs, or is there wood floors there. I’m replacing the carpet runner on the stairs and in the hall upstairs. My dilemma is what pattern to choose so it looks good with the existing beige carpet in the bedrooms. We are not planning to install wood floors in the hall. Thanks for your input!

    • Lorri Dyner

      November 7, 2016 at 7:16 PM Reply

      Hi Deb – I ended up just doing carpet on the actual stairway treads to save money. our hallways upstairs are bare wood floors. It’s tough to match carpets! The good news is that you have beige which is obviously a nice neutral. If I were tackling your project, I would really try to stay with the same texture as your beige carpets. Also, stick with neutral colors, although I wouldn’t worry as much about that. Best of luck! We’d love to see a picture!

  • Haley Schellin

    December 31, 2016 at 2:36 PM Reply

    Hi! I absolutely love all the runners on your post. Where are the best places to buy a stair runner for wood stairs? I’ve been trying to do some research but having difficulties! Any recommendations would be awesome!

    • Lorri Dyner

      January 13, 2017 at 2:49 PM Reply

      Hi Haley, do you have a neighborhood carpet retailer? Often they are family owned and really helpful. That would be my first step if I were you. Often stair runners need to be custom made because the measurements can really vary! So it’s hard to buy this stuff online. Another idea – go to a Lowe’s or a Home Depot. They should have some good options also. GOOD LUCK!!!!

  • Stacey Spencer-Sullivan

    October 20, 2017 at 3:08 PM Reply

    Hi! I realize this post is a few years old. I’m hoping you can update on how this carpet has worn. Also, I see you went from what appears to be ceramic tile to hardwood. We have ceramic that I’d love to swap for hardwood. How does it flow with the other hardwood I can see in your other rooms? I’m considering doing something different so that it doesn’t look too matchy matchy or worse, like we tried to match the wood but it doesn’t jive!! Thanks so much. It looks amazing!

    • Lorri Dyner

      January 23, 2019 at 3:12 PM Reply

      Hi Stacey, Well sorry this reply is SO OLD. You’ve probably chosen your carpet already! But for those of you taking a peek at this blog post now, the carpet has worn BEAUTIFULLY. You know what I think the trick is? HIGH QUALITY. If you’re going to pick something for your main stair runner and you have kiddos /pets? I’m telling you, for for something as nice as you can find. The other trick is we are a no-shoes indoors family. I can’t imagine what this carpet would look like after someone has been trudging around outside and then up the stairs in their shoes!
      As for our hardwood floor, we were able to rip out the tile and place new floors in our entry…But in our kitchen? There was radiant heat all through the cement underneath the tile. Too expensive, crazy to rip that up… so we just laid manufactured wood strips right over the tile. It looks fantastic and is super hardy. AND you can totally feel the radiant heat coming up!

  • Kavi Punniyakotti

    March 18, 2018 at 7:10 PM Reply

    Hi Lorri
    I live in UK and would love that navy blue geometric carpet. I am dying to have that in my new house. Done so much research online but could not find a UK based company that would sell this.
    Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    • Lorri Dyner

      January 23, 2019 at 3:08 PM Reply

      Kavi, I wish I could help! I don’t know vendors in the UK at all! What about Rugs.com…. but instead, Rugs.uk?

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