Your House

Help Me Choose A Stair Carpet

5th April 2012
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Deborah contacted MadAboutTheHouse to ask with help in choosing a new stair carpet.

Q: We moved into our house nearly three years ago but with three small children, decoration was the last thing on our minds. Now that our youngest is nearly four, we are starting to think about replacing and renewing. I want to start with the stairs, which currently have a very tatty red carpet on them. I was thinking about a charcoal runner, which I think would be practical and modern but it’s proving very hard to find the right shade. I don’t want it to look like an office.

A: For years stairs and hallways have been ignored in favour of the other rooms in the house and treated merely as a way of getting from top to bottom, or as a dumping ground for stagnating trainers and wet coats. It’s true we don’t spend much time in, or on, either place, but in fact this is one of the most important areas of the house. Think about it – it’s the first place anyone sees when they come to your house. One estate agent told me recently: “The staircase can set the whole tone of the house and an interesting staircase nowadays is equal importance to a good kitchen or a master suite.”

So, clearly the stair carpet is an important decision. I understand Deborah’s desire for a dark practical colour that won’t show the dirt. But, precisely because we do spend so little time on the stairs, you can afford to be really dramatic and perhaps a little more daring than you would be in the sitting room where you spend hours at a stretch.

One solution to liven up or “de-office” a dark grey or black carpet is to have the edges bound in a contrasting colour rather than the more traditional matching look. I used this technique in the spare room. The grey carpet we had chosen wasn’t wide enough to fill the room so we decided to have it made into a large rug instead. The fireplace had already been painted shocking pink so it was a short step to bind the edges of the new rug in a matching colour.


Another alternative is to go for one of the many stripy solutions that are around now. The best place for this is

www.rogeroates.com. You can stick to a neutral palate of grey and blacks, like this:

See how painting the sides of the stairs in a different colour also makes for a modern, yet practical style?

Here is another example of how grey and black contrast so well:

Hartley and Tissier carpet via Pinterest from decofinder.co.uk

This is from Alternative Flooring’s Quirky range (www.alternativeflooring.com) and might be a little too racy but it’s an example of the fun you can have, given that you are just passing through


And these are just for fun

from Pinterest via mondo-blogo.blogspot.com

This footprint carpet was commissioned by Edward James, an Anglo-American millionaire and patron of the arts who lived in Monkton House, in Sussex. He was married to the dancer, Tilly Losch, who one day ran out of the shower and up the stairs to their bedroom barefoot making a series of footprints. James was so taken with this that he commissioned a carpet with her prints woven into the fabric. Sadly as a token of love it didn’t work as the marriage was over shortly afterwards. James moved the carpet to West Dean House (now West Dean College) where it can still be seen and replaced the Monkton carpet with one featuring his dog’s footprints.

Or these:

from thesunsetlane.blogspot.com via Pinterest


Martha Stewart stickers have been used to great effect on this staircase


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  • Rachael 16th January 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Hi Kate, where would you recommend to look for carpet? I know before you recommended a vibrant colour for the hall, but also like the idea of a pattern, I like the black and white stripes! We’re replacing all the revolting carpet in our house, and thinking about one design downstairs and for the stairs, then something different for the bedrooms. I’d love to go and be inspired in a real shop, as well as looking online.
    Thank you!

    • Kate 16th January 2013 at 1:02 pm

      Hi Rachael, I’ve just had another inquiry about carpet, this time for stairs so I shall look into both these subjects and post soon. I completely understand about wanting to find a real shop and I will investigate.

  • Ms.Pink 8th April 2012 at 10:50 am

    Love your pink fireplace.
    Where did you get the carpet bound? Very effective.

    • Kate 8th April 2012 at 10:53 am

      Thank you. It’s quite cheeky isn’t it! Our carpet fitter took it off somewhere to be bound with a copy of the paint chart for matching as much as possible.

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