(Edited from AP) You walk up them, you walk down them, perhaps countless times a day. When you look down, though, do you see any sign of your personal style?

Staircases, once decorated with detailed, elaborate runners in the Victorian era, have been forgotten in many homes, or at least bumped down on the decorating to-do list.

(Edited from AP) You walk up them, you walk down them, perhaps countless times a day. When you look down, though, do you see any sign of your personal style?

Staircases, once decorated with detailed, elaborate runners in the Victorian era, have been forgotten in many homes, or at least bumped down on the decorating to-do list.

“Stairs are ignored. Period,” says Genevieve Gorder, host of HGTV’s “Dear Genevieve.”

“People think of stairs and hallways as strictly utilitarian – a place to get somewhere else,” she says. “But they are some of the most beautiful places to decorate.”

 

First Impression

Adding a runner to a staircase in the front of the house can help make a good first impression, especially because entryways often don’t have the space to feature fabric-covered furniture or windows.

A runner can add color, texture and pattern to a space. And the carpeting can cut down on noise and provide a safer walking – or in the case of kids, running – surface.

 

Simple vs. Traditional

The traditional Oriental style is a runner mainstay, offering lots of colors around which to decorate.

Nontraditional styles would be something simple and neutral, like a textured sisal wool runner. The idea is to add texture and luxury to the space but not drown the space or lock in any overt patterns. Also, carpeting with more patterns will show less dirt and dust than a more solid carpet, she notes.

 

Bye, Bye, Wall-to-Wall

Since hardwood floors have made a comeback over the past few decades, many homeowners are shopping for runners because they’ve either ripped out wall-to-wall stair carpeting or have moved into new homes with all hardwood floors.

Homeowners also want runners to combat stairwell echoes, or for safety.

 

Making It Work

Experts also advise coordinating a runner with the colors and style of the home’s main floor, not the upstairs. Many homeowners try to match the runner to a color in the home, which can be tricky, so a complementary hue might work. It’s not about matching so much as creating a sense of flow. Pull colors that are in your home that you like, and connect them to the staircase.

 

Raw Materials

Besides style, consider price. Runners are generally made of wool or a synthetic fiber.

Wool is softer to the touch, she says, has more of a matte look and releases dirt more easily. Synthetics, which used to look a little shiny, still catch the light differently than wool, and hold onto dirt more. While wool carpeting can actually wear away from use, synthetics do not. But whichever material you choose, take care of it.

 

Carpet Alternatives

If you want to add style to your staircase without carpeting, try tiling the risers – the vertical part of the stairs that gets scuffed easily. Or try making a paint “runner” in a bold shade of marine paint, or sanding one, creating the look with contrasting wood colors. Painting a runner down the stairs in a pattern, stripe or polka dot could be a really contemporary way to attack the stairs.

 

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