Title Image collage of a before picture of ugly stairs, after picture of freshly painted stairs with a new installed stair runner and a third picture of the stair runner with a small dog lounging in the middle of the stairs

Modern Stair Runners Make Your Steps

Stylish & Safe

Modern stair runners are a great way to add style while making your stairs safe for your family, friends and fur babies! Don’t skip over it.

This open stairwell in our quirky 60’s lakehouse needed HELP! Quite an understatement I know!

The house’s architecture has a Mediterranean feel, so I always intended to do a fun tile or paint treatment to the risers.

A side view of the open stairwell  in its "before" state with ugly brown painted risers and hardwood treads

Anything to replace the brown paint on the risers and the side panels would be a huge improvement! (And don’t get me started on the orange stained wood panel — it’s moving up the list) But why settle for just paint when I could do tile or stenciling or an interesting relief or wood treatment, or. . . . .

I kept putting it off.

See, I had this nagging in the back of my head. I knew, but didn’t want to admit that the stairs should be carpeted for safety sake. The hardwood treads were just too slick. And the landing is red brick — potential big OUCH!

It was a classic battle: fun style vs. safety.

Finally, my back won. Yes, my back.

It seems our little Grittles was not so concerned about style. He had a couple of close calls on the steps and he flat out refused to take the stairs on his own.

We became his elevator.

So a stair runner became the priority. Banish the boring though! I wanted a fresh, modern stair runner. I knew a runner could be a style statement. So that was our starting point.

Closeup view of Stair Runner installed

Are Stair Runners a Good Idea?

Just ask Grittles! He loves having his freedom back. When he wakes from his 18th nap of the day to find himself alone downstairs, he no longer has to whine until we come to get him. He springs up the stairs to come find us.

Happy dog, happy house! Right?

Admittedly, they are much safer for the 2-legged creatures of the house, too! We had our own set of close calls with socked feet or even slippers.

Bonus: the stairs become much quieter!

Title Graphic: 'Pin It Now" with three arrows
Now that you might want a stair runner,

Pin this to your :

Home Decor Board, or your

Carpet Board, or your

Steps Board, or your

Dream Home Board

Pin with image of stairs with modern stair runner and a title that reads "What to Know: Modern Stair Runners"

Are Stair Runners Practical?

That depends on the choices you make.

As long as you choose a flatweave carpet, I have found them to be very practical.

I use the corner attachment on our small tank vacuum to get the dust and dirt that collects in the corners of the tread and riser and most of the debris that catches on the carpet.

Practical also dictates a bit of a pattern to disguise all of “life’s souvenirs” between cleanings.

And I strongly suggest a midrange color. Too light and they’ll show dirt too quickly. Too dark, and every last bit of lint, fuzz and what-not will become beacons.

How to Win With the Right Modern Stair Runner?

The just mentioned pattern and mid-range color influenced our decision:

a grid showing four different carpet samples on the last step with the red brick floor under

After a lot of shopping around, we had it down to these four options (surprisingly, all from Weber). I knew I wanted a pattern, and was hoping for a stripe.

I fell for no. 1, until we brought the sample home. Once I placed it on the bottom step to see how it looked with the brick floor, I knew it wasn’t right.

The pattern of brick landing and floor throughout the lower level fought with the pattern of the cable knit stripe. Bummer!

I liked the scale of no. 4 with the brick, but the color was too pink-ish.

view of diamond carpet sample on the bottom step with the corner of the two downstairs area rugs in the background

So now the decision was down to no. 2 or 3.

(Please do not judge the grout! There’s a LOT of it and I don’t think it was ever sealed in its 60 years. That’s going to be a big, boring, back-breaking project. And it will get tackled before long)

Ultimately, we landed on no. 3. The pattern was a smaller scale but with a higher contrast.

The smaller scale appealed to me. It’s a pet peeve of mine when patterns don’t line up. The larger the scale for a stair runner, the more the variance in where the edge of each step will fall in the overall pattern. That is why I love a stripe running down the stairs but not across the stairs.

And with a pattern, it can have a dizzy-ing effect as you walk down the stairs.

The lighter color of the trellis also references the light pattern in the blue area rug next to it. The winner is from Anderson Tuftex, Springer’s Point in Almond.

What Can I Use As a Stair Runner?

There are lots of creative options out there!

For me and our house, on the stairs, I want a carpet runner with quality padding nailed tight.

It is possible to buy runners by the foot. The disadvantage is they come in a set width that may not be best for your stairs and the selection is limited. The advantages: quick and less expensive.

You can have most broadloom carpets made into custom runners. This is what we did. This gave us the greatest selection and we also had the option to specify the banding.

Custom stair runners are a significant investment and a safety element. So I suggest only ordering through a reputable store, specifically a flooring store. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of our local home improvement stores, But for carpet, especially custom carpet and installation, I go to my local preferred flooring store.

In Kansas City, I love Weber Flooring/Joe’s Carpet. This is not a sponsored post, just sharing what has worked well, very well for us — several times now.

Pat Bales, the store manager at my local Weber Flooring/Joe’s Carpet shared this advice, “Deciding on the appropriate carpet fiber for your stairs depends on both function and design. Carpets made of nylon and wool typically offer timeless looks as they are extremely resilient yarns and they lend themselves to more of a subtle color palette that stands the test of time. Carpets made of olefin and polyester are better for bold designs as both yarns yield a color fastness where colors are more vibrant and intricate than their nylon and wool counterparts.”

And for alternatives, there are stair treads you can buy. Basically they are individual small oval or rectangular pieces of carpet that you install on top of the treads. It’s just not a look I am into, so I’m not covering those options here. But know that they are available if they are right for you.

Can You Install a Stair Runner Yourself?

Yes, you can. No, we didn’t!

There are many tutorials out there for how to do this. If you have a straight staircase it looks to be pretty straightforward. I particularly like this one, especially the trick of coloring the staples.

But we had a lot on our plate this year. Something had to give and this is the project we decided to contract out. In the end, I’m glad we did.

Closeup of the stair runner cut around wall

Our stairs have a funky jut out that the installer had to cut around. He did a great job knowing how to handle this best.

Since safety was our main concern, I opted for the Hollywood type installation vs. the Waterfall installation.

The Hollywood (I guess it looks fancier?) installation pulls the carpet tight around and under the nose of the stair treads. The Waterfall installation is exactly as it sounds, the carpet is tacked at the back of the tread and flows over the tread nose down to where the next tread meets the riser.

Back to Style, Let’s Talk Banding-

Since we custom ordered our runner, we were able to specify the banding.

The most common banding (at least here in the Midwest) is a narrower binding. And there are a plethora of colors to choose from.

However, always seeming to take the more challenging path, I wanted a wider band. I like when the band is part of the design. I started with a cream band to match the trellis, but in the wide width, there wasn’t a good match, so I chose to go darker. Which is probably much more practical considering the wear it will receive.

Keep in Mind For Your Modern Stair Runner-

View of stairs with runner from above

The most challenging part of designing your stair runner is that it acts as a bridge between two floors and multiple rooms.

It’s important to design with all these in mind.

Initially, I thought I wanted a blue and cream runner. But those options did not work at all upstairs. It was a total disconnect.

Very quickly, we pivoted to a neutral runner that would speak to both floors of the house.

a Woman with her small dog sitting beside her on the newly painted steps with stair runner installed

Once we ordered our runner, we matched paint to it and painted the awful brown risers and the sidewalls. Yes, it looks like the wall white, but it is actually much creamier, the color of the trellis.

This stairwell is so much brighter, fresher, quieter, more comfortable — and YES, safer for everyone!

Image of small black and silver dog peacefully laying on the stair runner halfway up the flight of stairs

And we are thrilled with how it turned out. Grittles approves.

I hope this helps if you’ve been contemplating runner for your stairs.

Please consider pinning this to help you find it when you need to reference AND

it helps me out quite a bit. Many, many thanks for pinning and sharing!

If I can help with any questions, please do not hesitate!

Pin showing flight of stairs with new stair runner installed Hollywood style with an title reading: Planning the Perfect (for you) Stair Runner
Here's to Joy-Filled Living, Diane


  1. Renae

    Absolutely gorgeous, my friend.

  2. laura

    Looks great Diane!

    laura in Colorado

    • Diane

      Thanks Laura! I’m so surprised at how much it brought to this dark space, and what a difference it has made tying the two floors together.


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