One of the most-asked questions on my Instagram feed is “where’s your stair carpet from?”. One of the other most-asked questions is “what happens to the stripes when you get to the landing?”. Well, herein lies the answer to both of those questions! Hoorah! But first, as is becoming customary on this blog, I want to take you for a toddle down memory lane.
The Stairway We Inherited
In keeping with the decor when we moved in, in late 2012, the stairway was a homage to the ’90s, heavily featuring pastel yellow and blue. The stairs had the same blue carpet as covered the whole house, and which was, by the time we inherited it, way past its best and pretty manky, particularly on the stairs. It had actually gone grey on the treads. I could have had it all cleaned, but I never see the point in lavishing time and money on things you don’t like, especially if you’re not going to like them much better once the time and money is spent. So I left it, and we could bound up the stairs freely with cups of tea in hand, not really caring if we sploshed it all over the place as we went. It was good for something. And it didn’t smell, which I took as a bonus.
We have 3 floors, and the decoration of the “communal areas” (this phrase makes me laugh, it makes me think of living in a commune, which I sometimes think would be a really great idea and have often discussed with my female friends. It would be an all female commune. Anyway, I mean the hallways and corridors, basically!) is a massive, massive undertaking. Someone back in the ’90s invested heavily in that wallpaper/carpet combo, because you need TONS of both. And so, we lived with it until 2017, and I have a very specific memory of my in-laws staying here (hence I was free of the burden of childcare, as they’re ever so good like that) and I decided, on a whim, to start ripping off the paper. And lifting the carpet. I was sick of the sight of it and decided I’d rather have bare walls and stairs for a bit than look at it any longer. I found that some historic funster had drilled a large hole in every single stair riser, and we had to go back to the lat and plaster in some places. Of course we did.
The Great Hallway Transformation of 2017
I won’t go into the wallpaper decisions, save to say I replaced the old Anaglypta beneath the rail with new Anaglypta, which I painted in Farrow & Ball “Railings”, and put the glorious blush pink “Artemis” wallpaper by House of Hackney above. I think there may be a separate blog in all of that, and today we’re talking carpets. Much as I enjoy cantering off on a tangent, I’ll rein it in (two unintentional horse-based analogies there!).
So, I had bare stairs (side note: the sound of the kids clattering up and down them was enough to convince me carpet was the way to go, lovely as painted stairs are – like a herd of elephants, every time). The stair-related world was my oyster. I’ve spoken before (here) about my love of a pattern clash, and my favourite of all is a floral with a stripe. The classic clash. To add to that, I’d always fancied a stair runner, rather than wall to wall carpet. I just like them, and think they look pretty (sometimes things don’t need to be that deep, do they?). I wanted the stairs to hold their own against the colour and pattern I’d used on the walls, which was, even in my book, A Lot.
First of all, I decided to take the colour on the lower wallpaper (the “Railings” Anaglypta) and skirting across the edges of the stairs too, which gave a cohesive look. Note, if you’re having a runner, so the edges of the stairs are exposed, you only need to paint the bits you’ll see. Don’t waste time, energy and paint doing the full stairs!
I then went on a hunt for the carpet. I knew I wanted a stripe. I loved Roger Oates stair runners, but I had two full-sized staircases and two smaller ones to do, plus I needed to carpet the landing area and a corridor, and they were way out of my budget, particularly since I’d spent a bomb on the wallpaper (why do I never love the £10/roll ones? WHY?). I looked at maybe picking out some of the wallpaper colours in the runner, but eventually settled on black and white stripes. Pretty classic. I ordered various samples from the internet and played about with them. The stair carpet was one thing my husband had a strong opinion on (I think the only decor-related thing he’s had any degree of input in, ever) – I was in favour of a wide stripe, and he, for reasons unknown, was quite anti. So I settled on a slim stripe, in a hardwearing material (I can’t remember what it is, but it had quite a high synthetic content, which is useful in high traffic areas, as it doesn’t wear away like pure wool might).
And I bought it from…..
Well, the thing is, I got my carpet from a local independent guy called Peter who popped round, I showed him my sample, and he went off and found one for me using his special contacts (I’m building this up to sound more exciting than it was). That’s not very helpful, is it? But, in joyous news, you can get an identical one at Carpetright! Hooray! It’s called the “Ultra” and the colour is “City Stripes”, which sounds very corporate indeed. The only thing I’d add is that my sister got the Carpetright carpet after I got mine, and hers has not worn as well as mine. Mine looks exactly the same nearly 4 years on, hers bobbled a bit, quite quickly. I just wanted to mention that in the interests of honesty, m’lud. I’m sure other places sell it too, and maybe my sis was just unlucky, I know no more.
I’d picked a regular carpet, as opposed to a bespoke runner, but it’s a very simple matter for the carpety folk to cut it into a runner. You are, however, left with a raw edge on both sides, so it needs to be covered or bound with something. The options here are to “whip” it (which I did, and which is nothing to do with bondage, but is instead a wool binding stitched over the edges), or edge it with something else, like an edging tape. I actually loved the edging tape best, but it was more expensive than whipping, so whip it I did. Again, in the interests of honesty, I will confess that I took huge inspiration from (copied, I mean copied) my pal and all round Instagram legend Katie Woods from @comedowntothewoods and her excellent yellow whipping. It’s the same carpet too, I didn’t copy that bit, honest, I didn’t know her personally then, and I’d already chosen it when I saw hers, I’m not going all Single White Female on her.
I showed a picture of Katie’s stairs to Peter, and said I’d like them whipped like that, please. He popped off round the wool mills of Yorkshire, and called me to say he was struggling to find any yellow wool anywhere. As luck would have it, the last mill he tried had just had a huge order from Dunelm for emoji rugs (the little yellow faces we all know and love 🙂🤨🤓🧐), and they had stacks of yellow. And now my stair carpet is trimmed in emoji yellow. True story.
Corners, landings, tricky bits
This befuddled me too, before Peter got to work. It’s easy to see how the stairs will work, but I’ve got landing spaces, corridors, and more stairs, which were all to be carpeted in the same stripes. What happens??? Peter didn’t break a sweat, it was all perfectly do-able, and I think the best way to show you this is via video (this was a one-take wonder, as I had to make my daughter turn the tv off so there was no background noise, and she wasn’t happy, lolz). It also has to be in two parts because of the file size being too large. It gives you a rough idea, hopefully:
Other notable points, and striped carpet owners
Firstly, the black painted treads show dust like no-one’s business. They need wiping down a lot more than I’d ever wish to wipe down my stair treads. Secondly, it also chips pretty easily (I used Farrow & Ball Modern Eggshell, but it still chips), so I just touch it up now and again. No biggie.
I’m far from the only lover of this particular stair carpet on Instagram, so I thought I’d leave you with a few other examples of how its been used in other lovely homes:
- Emily Asher (@dame_dinky)’s decadent, dark stairway with a flash of neon pink whipping. Astoundingly lovely.
2. Carol Maxwell (@maxmademedoit)’s green-trimmed stair runner (she’s also taken it wall to wall on her stairway to the third floor, like me) in her hallway of dreams. Clever lady.
3. Lisa (@houseofpane)’s classic, classy, black-trimmed runner with brass rods. Timeless and beautiful.
4. And finally, to show that this carpet works just as well on a pale background as a dark one, Ciara Elliott’s (@ciaraelliott) beautiful (and festive!) staircase, with green trim. Joyous.
I hope that’s answered all possible questions about the runner, but if I’ve missed anything, please holler in the comments! The day the carpet went in was wonderful. Even though we hadn’t finished decorating all the rooms, having the communal areas done made it all feel so, so much more ‘done’. And I still love it. Oh, and I quickly invested in a little machine that spot-cleans carpets, to pre-empt the inevitable spillages. Let’s just say it was a good investment.