When was the last time you thought about stair runners? Carpeting your stairs is a critical aspect of interior decorating and safety and style rank as top priorities. There are so many elements to consider before investing in stair runners. Do you have straight or winding stairs? Do you have pets, young children or elderly family members living in your home? Do you want to expose the treads and risers on either side of the runner? Do you want to install decorative stair rods? Should you hire a professional installer? Are there ways to reduce costs?
I’ve been searching for answers to these questions as we near the completion of our year-long rejuvenation of a Federal home in Newport, Rhode Island. Lately our attention is focused on making a pair of 200-year old narrow staircases slip proof and attractive focal points of the stair halls. As we navigate the labyrinth of possibilities, I’ve spoken with several design professionals who are happy to share their expertise about selecting and installing stair runners with those who want to improve the form and function of their staircases. The marketplace abounds with runners that will suit your needs and budget.
Collaborate with Local Experts
Begin your quest for stair runners by visiting an established carpet and flooring dealer in your area. As a native New Englander, I instinctively contacted Colony Rug Company , one of the most respected, specialty floor covering stores in the region to learn about stair runners. Gregory Yacobian established Colony Rug Company in Wollaston, Massachusetts in 1950. Today Colony Rug Company’s headquarters are located in Hanover, Mass. Designers and manufactures from around the country praise the company for their integrity, uncompromising quality, selection, professional service, and meticulous craftsmanship. Paige Pieroni joined Colony Rug Company in 1997 and currently serves as President representing the fourth generation to lead the company. From overseeing day-to-day operations, to staying in tune with ever-changing design trends, Paige has guided the company from a local storefront to one that has evolved into a designer destination showroom. While maintaining a strong client base in the Boston area, Paige has expand into new markets beyond New England.
When asked why stair runners are necessary in homes, Paige says, “Stair runners are an important design element in a home for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they provide safety, especially for a young family. Many young mothers will come in needing carpet on their stairs because one of their little ones has slipped wearing just socks. In addition to safety, a stair runner will also help lessen the noise in one’s home, as well as minimize soiling on the second floor.”
Paige explained that carpet runners are a key design element for pet lovers. She says, “Many clients specifically requests a stair runner because their dog is afraid to go up or down their staircase. For a household with pets, I always encourage the client to go as dark as possible in the color, as well as a tight texture. A very plush texture will show traffic pattern more easily than a texture that is low and tight. Again, the faux sisal texture is always my first go to product for this application. If a home owner has cats, they are extremely limited in their selections due to the cat’s claws. They are limited to cut pile textures only since any looped texture can be destroyed by the cat’s claws.”
Paige recommends working with a professional installer. She says, “It is always recommended to have a flooring professional properly site measure one’s staircase, especially if it is not a straight staircase. A flooring professional will be knowledgeable on the proper installation method that would be best for the staircase and the material chosen, i.e. Hollywood style installation method versus waterfall style. In New England, the preferred method is waterfall style since most staircases have mouldings. The proper installation method is also determined by the texture of the carpet chosen by the client. The flooring professional can also review any change in pattern direction or how the pattern will flow on the staircase.”
Interestingly enough, Colony Rug Company is well known for their star-pattern stair runner. Paige says, “On the East Coast, the classic pattern for a stair installation is a nautical star pattern. So many homes are located near the ocean and this pattern is perfect for a Colonial-style home.” She adds, “A texture that has been extremely popular, especially on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, is a faux sisal texture (or polypropylene sisal) that is available in a variety of colors and patterns. Colony Rug Company has an exclusive texture in this quality called, Colony Sisal, which we have sold for the past ten years. Not only is the texture extremely durable, it is very fashionable especially since Colony Rug is able to fabricate narrow Sunbrella binding that helps to enforce the indoor/outdoor durability.”
Money Saving Tips
Depending on the stair and the type of carpet you select, custom stair runners cost between $2,000 and $5,000. To help reduce costs, Paige suggests buying remnants. She says, “One option is to purchase a carpet remnant that is typically less expensive than ordering direct. For a straight staircase a remnant that is 8’x12’ can be cut and bound into an appropriate stair runner. My company has a dedicated section on our website just for our Remnant Room. We receive calls from all over the U.S. from clients interested in purchasing our remnants which can be cut and customized or shipped as is anywhere in the U.S. and abroad.”
For another cost-saving option Paige says, “A homeowner can be more efficient when selecting their stair material if they have a standard width staircase that is straight. They can select ready-made runners (2’6”x 8’), purchase three and have them installed. Dash & Albert offers a wide variety of patterns that can be used this way.” She adds, “As for more trendy patterns, stripes have been consistently popular over the years. Dash & Albert, has been wildly popular for stair installations due to their enormous collections of stripes in both cotton, wool and indoor/outdoor material.”
Make a Bold Statement
Dash & Albert Rug Company was founded in 2003 and maintains its headquarters in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. Dash & Albert rugs, throws, pillows, furniture, poufs and tote bags are sold at over 2,300 fine retailers nationwide. Their designs are prized by interior designers, stylists, and homeowners who favor vibrant colors, traditional stripes and bold geometric patterns. Dash & Albert offers a wide selection of wool, cotton, indoor/outdoor, and blended rugs in a variety of weaves that are suitable for use as stair runners.
According to Annie Selke, the Founder and CEO of Dash & Albert, their designs are eye-catching and durable. She says, “Spirited and well-bred, these rugs are the smart solution for floors pining for personality. We believe that home products should never be so precious that they can’t stand up to typical traffic, the occasional oops, or a glob of pet slobber, so we craft them of the finest material, which allows them to weather years of loving use, and even regular cleaning or washing.”
Annie adds, “Dash & Albert rugs are very popular as stair runners and one reason for that is the breadth of our line; we offer wool, cotton and indoor/outdoor styles that can be used with great success on stairs. Also, many of our indoor/outdoor and cotton patterns, specifically stripes and diamonds, create a stunning statement at an affordable price, making them an easy choice for those looking for big impact without a big bill.”
Stepping Out with Designers
Courtnay Tartt Elias is Creative Director and Principal of Creative Tonic. Located in Houston, Texas. Courtnay established her boutique design firm in 2005 after completing studies in Art History, Medieval Studies and 19th and 20th Century Decorative Arts. With interior design, architectural consulting and construction projects throughout the US, Courtnay is known for her refined floor plans, lively color palette, passion for art and unexpected blend of diverse periods of style.
Courtnay has helped many clients incorporate stair runners into their decors. She says, “Stairs are brilliant places to play with design and scale. I love when our clients trust us with using playful patterns, geometrics, contrasting binding tapes, stair rods and nail-heads on their stair treads. Right now Creative Tonic is using a lot of geometrics… a few years ago it was zebra and antelope animal prints. There is always a debate when the treads start out bigger at the bottom and then get smaller for the rest of the run. We always insist with our workroom to notch the material in when the treads get smaller to a consistent measurement on each side instead of keeping the runner the same size. This technique always looks more custom and expensive and it usually costs the same.”
Courtnay also recommends accessorizing the runners. She says, “It’s all about the details. We love ornamentation on stairs too. Metal stair rods with interesting finials and nail-heads added to canvas binding make even the simplest sea grass material look refined and bespoke.”
Cloth & Kind
Cloth & Kind is a nationally recognized residential and commercial interior design firm led by principals Krista Nye Schwartz and Tami Ramsay with offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Athens, Georgia. The pair is renowned for their collaborative approach to the design process and specifically for their ability to create spaces with history and heart, with story and substance. Each project is layered with a meticulous mix of one-of-a-kind finds and finishes and a heavy dose of unique and custom textiles, curated art and furnishings.
Cloth & Kind has worked closely with clients to enhance their homes with stylish carpet runners. Krista says, “Stair runners are highly functional and super practical in that they help prevent your stairs from getting scuffed up, especially if you have little ones and/or furry friends in your home. Don’t be afraid to go bold with color and pattern on your stair runner. Stairwells are often neglected, yet they offer such a unique opportunity to create a memorable experience by combining the color, pattern and texture of a rug with the inherent architectural interest that stairs present.”
Tami stresses the importance of working with professionals. She says, “Don’t compromise. A reputable, experienced installer makes all the difference in the world.”
A highlight of one of Cloth & Kind’s recent residential projects is a stair runner fashioned from Dash & Albert’s Toluca Stripe.
Lastly, it is important to mention Merida, a textile producer based in Fall River, Mass. that makes exquisite stair runners and is garnering attention from interior designers. Roxanne Hanna was named Creative Director for Merida in 2013 and has been instrumental in evolving the renowned rug manufacturer into a full-service design company. She has overhauled Merida’s design process and introduced several new collections, including the popular Tailormade and Crosspoint flatweave lines. Prior to that she lived and worked for a decade in New York City, where she managed Merida’s local clientele and worked directly with some of the country’s most influential designers. While living in NYC, Roxanne studied at Parsons School of Design. She traces her life-long passion for textiles and fashion from childhood. She sees restraint as a key element of Merida’s aesthetic, and says, “Like a rest in a piece of music, restraint in design is what gives a timeless textile its resonance and shape.”
For a stair runner design tip, Roxanne says, “Flatwoven wool or sisal rugs are ideal for stairs because of their durability, low profile and boundless options for surface design. From an understated sisal and wool blend to a completely custom wool jacquard, natural fiber flatweaves give you style without sacrificing functionality.”
With so many options, why not treat your staircase to a makeover?
To read about the rejuvenation of our 1811 Federal home in Newport, R.I. visit www.homesofthebrave.wordpress.com.