Published on February 9, 2021

The stairs are always getting overlooked when renovating. Admit it, you were planning on just adding the same beige runner and calling it a day—yet there’s so much more potential to be had! It’s time for the major utility to get the attention it deserves with a new vibe that can shake things up without throwing the whole interior out of whack. We collected some of our favorite patterned stair runners to do the job.

Unleash Your Wild Side

a leopard print staircasePin It
Photography by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Too often people think animal prints are only for maximalists—which is simply not true. What could be more natural than something actually existing in the wild!? In this Washington, D.C., home, the runner’s lighter tone mingles easily with the darker print on the walls. “Animal prints, no pun intended, are neutral by nature,” says designer Zoe Feldman. “They’re a part of our world and can hang out in basically any space together.”

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Carpeting

a custom spilling carpetPin It
Courtesy of Cara Woodhouse Interiors LLC

Don’t leave the foyer wide open and function-less. This custom runner by Cara Woodhouse Interiors makes the entryway into a place to pause with a scribble-printed custom design that flows out into the area. Shaker panels and herringbone floors benefit from a jolt of fun to disrupt all that tradition.

Walk the Rainbow

an ombre staircasePin It
Photography by Claire Esparros

For a staircase starting as a “total mess,” designer Jenny Kaplan passed on giving the dingy steps of her Kennebunkport, Maine, home a funky paint treatment in lieu of one solid color and an ombré rug. To top it off, the carpet on the bottom floor matches for a continuous look. 

Mix It Up

a squiggly carpet on a staircasePin It
Photography by Jane Beiles; Design by Denise Davies, D2 Interieurs

Who says you can only use one print? By sticking with neutral tones of gray, beige, and black, D2 Interieurs’s squiggly runner still pairs well with the rhombille tile at the foot of the steps.

The Bold and the Beautiful

a bold-colored staircasePin It
Photography by Jessica Antola

Very little about Angela Chrusciaki Blehm’s Gainesville, Georgia, home is subtle. The marigold light fixture and cherry red cabinet, the graphic art lining the walls, and the black Missoni runner all feel balanced as equally big statements. Look closely and you’ll see the textile actually has a ribbed surface that warms up the high-contrast space.

Making Waves

a wavy stair runner rugPin It
Photography by Jane Beiles; Design by Denise Davies, D2 Interieurs

Unlike the straight lines of Denise Davies’s shiplap, spindles, and sconce, this number boasts a sinuous wave that demands attention. But in a muted tone, it also bridges the gap between stark black and white palettes.

Don’t Settle

a memphis-styled staircasePin It
Photography by Genevieve Garruppo; Design by Sasha Bikoff for Kips Bay Decorator Show House

It’s physically impossible for the human brain not to focus directly on these Memphis-style stairs, designed by Sasha Bikoff for the 2018 Kips Bay Decorator Show House. As you turn each corner, every section has a different but equally graphic pattern—an ideal option for the indecisive.

Don’t Pass on Vintage

a shag carpet on stairsPin It
Photography by Cody Guilfoyle; Styling by Kate Berry

Just because you’re renovating your stairwell doesn’t mean you need to spend tons of money. Rather than covering steps that have seen better days with a brand-new rug, find a cost-effective vintage alternative from a secondhand shop, as Ariane Goldman did here. Etsy, eBay, and Chairish all are good sources. 

Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.

Discussion