Having a sisal or flat weave stair runner installed is a great way to add character and warmth to your staircase.
I have put together the most popular stair runner trends seen in interiors right now but first, let me give you professional advice on everything that is involved when choosing a stair runner.
WHAT IS A STAIR RUNNER?
It’s usually installed over hardwood or painted stairs.
Runners come in a huge variety of colours, patterns and styles.
Most designs can be produced in different widths to suit the width of your stairs.
WHAT WIDTH SHOULD A STAIR RUNNER BE?
Regardless of which design of runner you choose, proportion is key to getting your runner right.
Stairs are typically 80cm - 90cm (31 - 35 inches) wide, so most runners are set at a 70cm (27 inches) width.
However, many clients have narrower stairs going to the basement or loft, in which case you can have your runner produced in a narrower width.
Aim to have at least 10cm’s (4 inches) on each side of the runner, it creates a feeling a grandeur to your staircase.
Leaving too small of a gap either side will make the runner feel more like a wall to wall broadloom carpet and leaving a wider gap 15cm - 20cm ( 6 - 8 inches) will make the stair runner feel too cramped.
It all depends on the width of your stairs, but usually between 8cm - 12cm (3 - 5 inches) gap on either side is the sweet spot.
SISAL STAIR RUNNERS
WHAT IS SISAL?
Sisal is derived from an agave sisalana plant.
It is valued for cordage because of its strength, durability and ability to stretch.
The higher-grade fibre is converted into yarns for the carpet industry.
Sisal carpets are versatile and hardwearing and ideal for living rooms, halls and as stair carpet.
Choose from textured sisals or fine woven sisals which are intricate and tactile.
STYLES OF SISAL
Stair runners produced in sisal is a trend that has caught on and continues to be a brilliant option for clients.
With manufactures regularly coming out with new designs and colours, you are spoilt for choice. Opting for a herringbone pattern is a personal favourite of mine, as the patten creates texture and interest.
Go for a large bouclé (pronounced book-lay) 😉 for a relaxed, rustic feel or a small bouclé for a chic, contemporary look.
I’ve noticed that manufactures are starting to produce sisal in metallic tones, such as silver and copper. This gives a client a lot more interior choices rather than the standard natural colour of sisal.
HOW IS A SISAL RUNNER MADE?
A carpet runner such as sisal, will be cut from a roll of carpet to make the stair runner, as opposed to a flat weave runner which is produced on a narrow loom.
You can have a stair runner produced in this manner from any type of carpet such as wool or viscose.
When ordering a stair runner made from carpet, you can choose the finishing edge.
The most popular options are having a bordered edge or a whipped edge.
BORDERS FOR STAIR RUNNERS
WHAT IS A BORDERED EDGE?
A bordered edge is when you select a cotton, leather or linen material to form a border down the length of the stair runner.
This is a great way to add colour to your stair runner, especially when using sisal in a natural tone.
Interior designers that I have worked with previously will even use two borders to enhance the runner further. (see centre image above)
Allow for the border width to be between 50mm - 70mm (2 - 3 inches) this is to be taken from the width of the carpet, not in addition to the carpet width.
Always make sure that when ordering that the border will be sewn on with padding.
Sewing padding underneath the border material will give the stair runner a smoother finish and prevent any texture from the carpet showing through.
WHAT IS A WHIPPED EDGE?
This is a simple stitch that is sewn along the sides of the stair runner, usually in the closest colour yarn to the colour of the carpet or if you wish a contrasting colour.
In the collage of images above you will notice an image with a yellow edging, the client chose a yellow yarn to finish their runner's edge, which frames the black and white stripes and creates an unexpected designer touch.
STAIR RUNNERS ON LANDINGS
If you have half turns on your staircase and opt for a flat-weave, the stair runner can be mitred at the corners to achieve a symmetric detail as shown in the below image, especially if there is a stripe in the design.
This detail is generally not used when installing a stair runner made from carpet, but can be done.
Usually the carpet will just be laid as one piece.
CONSIDERING A STAIR RUNNER FOR YOUR STAIRS? CLICK HERE FOR INSPIRATION
FLAT-WEAVE STAIR RUNNERS
WHAT IS A FLATWEAVE RUNNER?
A flatweave stair runner is a 100% wool carpet produced by traditional methods by using a wooden loom. They can usually be produced at a maximum width of 120cm (47 inches).
This form of production allows for intricate pattern designs using a selection of colour yarns.
CAN ANY CARPET INSTALLER FIT A FLAT-WEAVE STAIR RUNNER?
Flat-weave runners are not as simple to fit as stair runners made from broadloom carpet.
Flat-weave stair runners will come in one long piece and no nails or gripper can be used to install the carpet runner. The difficulty comes in when there are kite steps or landings as corners will need to be mitred and the installer needs to ensure the pattern meets up perfectly too.
Small details like this are vital for a high quality installation, I would always recommend using an installer that has previous experience in fitting flat-weave carpet stair runners.
8 STAIR RUNNER TRENDS
MATCHING LANDINGS TO YOUR STAIR RUNNER
A great way to bring your look together and keep it cohesive throughout your home, is to use the same design in your entrance and on your landings.
I feel it looks smarter if you opt for a wall to wall coverage in these areas as it doesn’t detract from the stair runner.
If you have a wide staircase and wide landings you can continue the stair runner at the same width on these areas.
It’s all about it working proportionally to your space, if your landings are narrow, installing a narrow stair runner will make it feel smaller.
Going for a wall to wall option will trick the eye into making the space feel bigger.
STRIPED FLATWEAVE RUNNERS
Having a striped stair runner works so well on a staircase, not only does it add a level of sophistication to the space, it draws your eye up the stairs, inviting you to what is beyond.
You can choose a design that has a bold stripe at the edge of the stair runner, similar to the border effect previously mentioned, or opt for thinner stripes that create a more gentle, muted design.
On the flip side you could also consider having bold lines going up the middle of the design.
A renowned manufacturer of flat weave runners, Roger Oates, has recently dug through their archives and reproduced some of their original designs.
The images above are from their archive designs.
Geometric patterns on stair runners, particularly without a border can work well in modern interiors.
The absence of the border creates a less formal feeling on the staircase but the pattern keeps it contemporary.
One of the most requested patterns is the diamond pattern as shown in the top row, but there are many options such as herringbone, basket weave and jacquard to name a few.
There are softer pattern designs available with stair runners and some of the patterns above work especially well with an English Countryside style of interiors.
These smaller patterns are usually produced without a border to create a relaxed and tranquil feeling.
The yarn colours used in these designs don't need to be beige, you often find bright colours in this selection.
SOLID COLOUR STAIR RUNNERS
I have had many clients enquiring recently for plain coloured stair runners.
Solid colours are ideal when you want to create a contemporary feel in your interior.
Flat-weave stair runners are made from 100% wool, but even with solid colours they can have a herringbone design which adds a beautiful texture to the runner.
SOLID COLOUR WITH BOLD BORDER
As mentioned earlier in this article, borders are an important detail to the stair runners design.
They draw the eye up but also add an allure of grandeur to the staircase.
By keeping the central part in a plain or a two yarn weave, makes the border stand out and creates a modern interior.
Many of my clients like to have a stair runner rug in their entrance that matches the stair runner.
This is absolutely fine to do, but from a durability point I would recommend having a good entrance mat to catch most of the dirt and wet, this will result in your runner rug lasting much longer.
UNDERLAY & INSTALLATION
Don’t forget about the underlay to help hold the stair runner in place.
I recommend a combination underlay that is usually made from crumb rubber for the base and the topper from recycled fibres. Foxi underlay is perfect and is available here on Amazon (not affiliate)
Velcro Microplast gripper must be used as no nails/gripper can be used to install the runner.
Always seek the advice from professional flat-weave stair runner installers.
When installing a flat-weave stair runner, ensure your installer has done flat-weave stair runner installations before as they are considered as a specialist trade.
When enquiring for your stair runner keep in mind that some suppliers work on a made to order basis and there may be a 14 week lead time.
A WORD ON STAIR RODS
Having stair rods installed is optional, but it is a lovely finishing touch to your stair runner and there are many designs on the market to suit all tastes.
They are also available in array of different finishes such as Antique Brass, Chrome and Pewter to name a few.
Keep in mind that the stair rods are usually only templated once the stair runner is installed and typically are produced and installed about two weeks after installation.
It's important to remember, that although it's interesting to know what trends are in general, you need to choose a product that you like.
You have to live with it and when it comes to flooring, it is an aspect in your home that you won't change often.
Take a cue from trends but ultimately your choice needs to represent you and be suitable for your home.
Shop our collection of stair runners here.
If you would like ideas and pricing for your stair runner project, please visit my consulting page or feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that this post does not contain affiliate links. Interiors I like from various designers or companies will be linked where applicable, simply click the image.