Stunning Stair Runners to Inspire Your Search for the Perfect Style

Entry way with a curving staircase of Rice Residence in Houston, Texas

Stair runners are a functional, fun way to add personality to your home’s foyer. From the Rice Residence foyer to the Colonial Drive entryway, our portfolio showcases a number of stunning stair runners. Stair runners add visual interest and allow you to express your design aesthetic — but that’s not all they do! Carpet stair runners are also incredibly effective at absorbing sound, preventing falls and protecting wood from scratches. Picking the right stair carpet runner is an important part of creating a functional home for families with elderly parents, children or pets. In this post, we answer all the questions clients ask our team about stair runners. To inspire your search for the perfect runner, we also feature ten of our favorite stair runners from the Laura U Design Collective archives.

Answering Your FAQs About Stair Runners

To start, let’s answer all your FAQs about stair runners. How far from the edge of the step should you lay a stair runner? When is it best to keep the stairs bare? Should you hire a professional to ensure safety when walking up and down the stairs? We answer all your frequently asked questions about picking, installing and enjoying stair runners below.

When Should You Use a Runner?

When should you use a stair runner and when should you not


As mentioned briefly above, there are many reasons and occasions to use a stair runner carpet in your home. But when should you use a runner? Homeowners should consider a carpet runner if they want to make their staircase quieter, safer and more stylish. Stair runners dampen sound — preventing that one creaky step from waking everyone up in the middle of the night.

Safety is another major concern. After all, who among us has never slipped on a step while wearing socks? Stair runners provide grip and cushion — making your staircase safer for pets, kids, the elderly and disabled residents.

A new runner also adds pizzazz to an underwhelming staircase while protecting the wood or tile from nicks, dents and scratches. With dozens of styles, patterns and materials to choose from, there is a stair runner for every home.

Should You Hire a Professional to Lay Stair Runner Carpet?

Laying a stair runner can be fairly straight-forward. You can DIY your stair runner if you have a straight, L-shaped or U-shaped staircase, but you will need a number of tools. These include a stapler, carpet knife, tape measurer, rubber mallet, bolster chisel and more.

Before buying a runner, be sure to measure appropriately. Keep in mind that the installation style you choose will impact the length of carpet and pad needed. To attach the rug pad, staple along the nosing.

When affixing your runner to the staircase, tack or staple along the edges — carefully noting any trim — a couple of inches above the riser. You can also use a tackless strip to keep your runner in place. Follow Jefferson Kolle’s step-by-step guide to installing a stair runner if you need further instruction.

If your staircase has many twists and turns — like a winder or spiral staircase — you might prefer to hire a professional. Similarly, if your staircase has complex molding, nosing or other accents, you might want to work with an expert.


Can You Lay a Stair Runner Carpet on a Spiral Staircase?


Can You Lay a Stair Runner Carpet on a Spiral Staircase?


The short answer to this question is yes, but laying a stair runner along a curved or spiral staircase is a bit more complicated. Furthermore, adding a stair runner to a spiral staircase might not always be appropriate.

For example, carpeting a spiral staircase with floating steps can ruin that modern effect if a professional does not install the runner. We recommend working with a professional in these situations.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Having a Stair Runner?

Pros of Having a Stair Runner Carpet

  • Stair runners can be removed and replaced.
  • Many performance fabric options are available.
  • Stair runners disguise any flaws in the wood or tile of your stairs.
  • They protect your floor from our furry friends nails
  • They insulate the floor.
  • Stair runners dampen sound.
  • Runners add style.
  • Stair runners can help prevent slips and falls.
  • Runners are often easy to install.
  • As opposed to full carpeting, runners allow you to see a bit of the original wood or tile along the border of each stair.

Cons of Having a Stair Runner Carpet

  • Runners can collect dust.
  • Tacks might damage the underlying wood.
  • Stair runners can increase the likelihood of a fall if the user has poor depth perception because contrasting edges are largely eliminated.
  • Runners are not right for all staircases.

Should You Match Your Runner to Your Entryway Area Rug?



While your foyer and staircase likely connect, there is no reason to perfectly match the fabric of your runner to your area rug. For a subtle contrast that meshes stylistically with the textiles in your entryway, consider a runner with a similar color palette, texture or pattern. To create a more striking effect that sets your staircase apart from the foyer, pick a completely different runner.

For example, we chose an abstract blue, white and gray area rug for the entryway of our Colonial Drive project. The light-toned rug contrasts with dark-stained floors that carry into the dining room. However, the stair runner at Colonial Drive is a very dark denim blue with fine white stripes throughout.

How Much of a Border Should You Leave Around a Stair Carpet Runner?

Most designers recommend between two and four inches of exposed hardwood or tile on either side of your stair runner. However, the width of each step, the style of the staircase and personal preference will dictate how much of a border is left. For particularly wide steps, you might leave a bit more than four inches around each side of the runner.

Where Should a Stair Runner End?

As with many other interior design decisions, you have a few options. Most runners begin on the tread of the top step and end on the riser of the bottom step. However, some continue onto the floor or stop short of the last riser. We often choose to end a stair runner under the nosing of the final step.

What is the Ideal Pile Height for a Stair Runner?


What is the Ideal Pile Height for a Stair Runner?


Experts typically recommend a low pile for stair runners. A pile height under 3/4″ will last longer than a high pile, especially in high-traffic areas like a staircase.

Which Material is Best for a New Runner?

Cotton, nylon and wool are excellent materials for stair runners because they are flexible, durable and fairly easy to install. For the stair runner at Colonial Drive, we chose a 100% wool textile.

10 Stunning Stair Runners to Help You Choose the Right Runner for Your Home

Whether you’re working on remodel or a new construction project, a stair runner rug might be what your entryway needs to truly shine. Here are ten stair runner rugs from the Laura U Design Collective archives.

#1 A Textural Gray Runner at Oak Estate


A Textural Gray Runner at Oak Estate Wows in contrast with the area rug

For the entryway of our Oak Estate project, we chose a Diamond Maze Grey area rug and a textural gray runner. Both recall the crisscross of Danish cord woven over the corner chair’s back two legs.

From the rug to the stair runner carpet, the gray textiles in the Oak Estate foyer allow the floor’s natural wood to shine through. At the same time, these textiles lighten the room and provide a bit of contrast while making the space feel warm and comfortable.

#2 This Bold Blue Runner Resembling a Rich Tai Ping Rug at Viscaino


This Bold Blue Runner Resembling a Rich Tai Ping Rug at Viscaino


As we note in the project reveal, our clients at Viscaino absolutely love color. As such, you will find the entire color spectrum throughout their home. We introduced oceanic shades very early.

Our team started with a custom-designed hexagonal Tai Ping rug in the entryway. We ended with a plush navy and cerulean blue stair runner in the playroom.

#3 An Elegant Diamond Hatch Stair Runner at Rice Residence


Entry way with a curving staircase of Rice Residence in Houston, Texas
Entry way with a curving staircase of Rice Residence in Houston, Texas


As noted above, we often choose to end stair runners under the nose of the final step. Our Rice Residence project is no exception. Simple black metal balusters add a bit of industrial flair to this gently curving staircase. At the same time, a diamond hatch pattern stair runner from M&M Carpet adds contrast while softening the industrial effect.

#4 A Stark Carpet Stair Runner at Colonial Drive


A Stark Carpet Stair Runner on the winding staircase at Colonial Drive


For the stair runner at Colonial Drive, we chose a 100% wool loop pile textile called Treemont Stria from Stark Carpet. With thirteen color options available, we chose a dark blue denim tone called “Prussian.”

This carpet runner has fine white stripes that create a lovely linear effect along the gently curving staircase. We love how the stripes compliment the white baluster. A delicate chevron pattern throughout the runner sets this piece apart from other striped textiles.

#5 A Subtle Geometric Pattern in Primm Valley


A Subtle Geometric Pattern in Primm Valley with Asian inspired patterns


Another favorite stair runner was installed in our Primm Valley project. To contrast with the dark-toned steps, baluster and handrail, we chose an ivory stair runner with a subtle geometric pattern.

The interlocking geometry of this runner resembles patterns found on ancient Roman and Chinese pottery. We love how the pattern subtly recalls the unusual design of this staircase’s baluster.

#6 A Classic Black and White Stair Runner


A Classic Black and White Stair Runner that contrasts beautifully with the floor below


You can never go wrong with a classic black and white color palette! The runner’s pattern and border make this curving staircase feel fresh and modern. At the base of the staircase, we matched the scale of the runner’s diamond print with that of throw pillows in the sitting room.

#7 A Sleek Menswear-Inspired Pinstripe Stair Runner Carpet


A Sleek Menswear-Inspired Pinstripe Stair Runner Carpet with a black border


This menswear-inspired chalk stripe stair runner carpet resembles the style chosen for our Colonial Drive project. In fact, both are from Stark Carpet. We love how the clean lines of this stair runner contrast with the white brick wall while complimenting the baluster and wainscoting. The dark border ensures this stair runner stands out, rather than fading into the white and gray-toned wood staircase.

#8 A Stylish Runner That’s a Fresh Take on Tweed


A Stylish Runner That's a Fresh Take on Tweed for a feminine home


Also pulling inspiration from suiting materials, this stylish runner is a fresh take on tweed. In addition to its intriguing texture and classic color palette, this runner also dampens sound.

Our clients needed a stair runner that would stand up to the noise and traffic created by their three young boys. With a rug pad and a dense runner, you can successfully dampen sound without compromising the style of your space.

#9 A Carpet Runner Inspired by Mid-Century Modern Design


A Carpet Runner Inspired by Mid-Century Modern Design with geometric elements


Neutral tones and classic colorways certainly have their role in 21st century homes, but who can resist a mid-century modern style? This playful geometric rug adds color and dynamism to a straight staircase.

#10 A Plush Purple Stair Runner We Still Love 13 Years After Install!


A Plush Purple Stair Runner We Still Love 12 Years After Install!

Last on our list of gorgeous runners is this plush purple carpet we installed way back in 2010. Thirteen years later, we still adore the subtle pattern, cozy texture and rich color of the stair runner pictured above. This runner perfectly compliments the elegant, neutral sitting room across the hall.

Stair Runner Rugs Instantly Elevate a Space

Adding a runner to your stairs is not only functional — it’s a fabulous way to add personality to the space. You can use them to add a pop of color, a touch of pattern or a dash of texture. You can use stair runner rugs in a bold print to make a statement. Or in a neutral color palette to make the entryway feel welcoming and inviting.

The options are endless, but if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for you can always have a custom stair runner made. Some of our go-to partners for designing custom stair runner rugs in Houston include Hokanson, Madison Lily Rugs, and Kyle Bunting. No matter which stair runner you choose to incorporate into your design, make sure it shows off your personality.

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