pendant light | DIY mirror | runner | vintage cactus (similar) | planter

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One of the most popular questions we’re asked is, What’s your favorite room in the house? I always, always answer with our entryway. Always. Although it’s not technically a ‘room,’ it’s an area that saw a lot of change when we moved into our home. A mudroom (or entry or foyer or!) was a must on our wish list during the house hunt; as silly as it might sound, a mudroom has always equated to luxury in my mind! It’s a place to lace up or take off your shoes, hang your coat and greet friends with a hug. As a quick back story, because our home was purchased as a two-flat, the entryway served as the common space, and it was blocked off by doors that lead into the first and second floor apartments. As a part of our first wave of renovation, we took down walls and doors, and over the better part of a year, we converted those two floors back into a single family home – with, as you know, a garden apartment below.

To say that the entryway has been a labor of love would be a huge understatement. Somewhere along our home’s history, our 130-year-old stairs had been painted brown and red, then covered in maroon carpet (the 70’s, right?). We stripped it all back and gave them a classic black and white finish using floor paint, and then, growing tired of the constant touch-up, we gave them several thin coats of polyurethane. The poly worked like a dream, and since completing that project two years ago, there have only been a few chips in the bull noses (a result of Jack and CC using our stairs like a race track!).

All of that brought us to here:

We love those black and white stairs. The treads are pocked and dented, a badge of honor from the last century of use. There’s a stubborn nail that pops out of that third riser when the weather changes; neither one of us have ever been able to successfully pull it out. And after all the changes it has seen, this clean look has always served as a reminder of how far it’s come.

But. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been sharing on our Stories that a change was on the way. We would be installing a runner! We always thought we might-maybe-someday do so, but now more than ever, it was time. Although we know to be careful when using our stairs, we were constantly telling our friends and family to hold onto the handrail. The stairs are narrow and not as deep as more modern staircases, and we were always the tiniest bit on edge when going up and down. For us, this was about safety. The entire tutorial on how we DIY-ed the installation (and more CC cuteness than you could possibly handle) is on this week!

Although we were covering that classic black and white staircase, we were determined to choose an equally classic counterpart. The winner was an outdoor-rated faux sisal from Sisal Rugs Direct in the color Belize Dune with a cotton Granola border. The project itself was extremely DIY-able, and it can be completed using most tools you probably already have around your home! There were only two items we needed to buy – a staple gun (this one paired with our air compressor) and a bolster chisel, both of which were invaluable to this project.

We’re breaking down how we selected our runner, the install from start-to-finish, why we couldn’t have done it without painter’s tape, and how a teeny, tiny wood shim came to our rescue in this century old home. (Plus more CC! More Jack!) It’s all on the blog this week!

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27 replies on “How (and Why) We Added a Stair Runner”

  1. Of course it looks great. Just curios could you have gotten the sisal in black.? That may have been interesting and kept to your black and white scheme

    1. There were definitely darker patterns, but we didn’t want to go TOO dark against the white risers. Instead, we opted for this more traditional – and crazy durable – feel.

  2. Do you ever think of adding a railing to the other side of the open part of the stairs, especially now that you have a kid?

    1. We have thought about that! Eventually, we’d like to replace the handrail and incorporate it into a railing with a minimal style.

  3. LOVE this, we too are hoping to add some cushion to our stairs this year. Side note: tell me more about that beautiful cabinet by your front door? Does that hide shoes?!

  4. I feel like I must have missed a post on the organizational wall unit (with the darling brass handles). Can you please tell us more (or point me to the post where there’s more)? It looks like such an interesting solution!

  5. Thank you for writing up and photographing the process! We are expecting twins in a couple months, and of course their nursery is downstairs while our bedroom is upstairs, so I’ve been thinking of adding a runner to our wood stairs just to make them a bit more comfortable as we’ll be using them a lot more. Your tutorial makes me feel like this is something we can actually do pretty easily. Thank you!!

  6. We’re currently brainstorming a stairs overhaul here, so I appreciate the tutorial on the runner. Now if I could only make a decision on which runner to get… Ha,ha.

  7. I’m surprised by the number of open steps you have at the bottom of the stairs. I think you need a railing there to meet code. I know you don’t have any interest in selling but we had that very issue come up in an inspection on a house we have on the market. . A minimal railing will look great there! I love the runner!

    1. Yup, we’d like to replace the current handrail and incorporate that into a railing in the open area. This entryway has been the biggest work in progress!

  8. I have a stupid question… does this improve safety because it is softer if someone falls? Or do you find it less slippery because of the material? I’ve always thought carpeted stairs were more slippery. We have hardwood stairs and the biggest issue is socks. We are generally barefoot or in hardsole slippers.

    1. It improves the safety, because the polyurethane made our stairs slippery! We’re a shoes off household, and I was always so nervous going up and down the stairs in socks! Not anymore. :)

  9. Hi Kim! Your stairs look great! I’d like to recreate this in my home as we have the same safety issues. However, we have a small landing followed by a 90 degree turn and two more steps down. In your research for this project, did you find any tips on how to handle a turn?

    Thanks for your great tutorial (as usual!)

  10. Looks great! I’ve been wanting to do this in my own home, but my stairs turn. Do you think I could cut and mitre the runner?

  11. We’re about to install a runner we bought from Annie Selke because we, too, are expecting a new member of our family due this August! We love the wood stairs, but they’re just too slippery for us (and for our pup, Ally, whom you’ve painted!) and it’s time for a runner.

    I looked here and both on the blog, but didn’t see it mentioned. How did you decide on a pad? Where did you get it? I prefer what you guys used because it looks cushier than the other “kits” I’ve found online.

    1. Oh, great question! When we ordered the rug from Sisal Rugs Direct, we selected to add the premium rug pad as well. So the rug pad is already cut to the same width as our runner, and then we just cut it up into tread pads. It’s the same type of pad we use for ALL the rugs throughout our home, which we get on Amazon right here!

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