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Usually, the first rule learned in DIY is that things don’t always work out the first time around. As evidenced so far with my terrible idea to paint the stairs white. I’m glad I’ve since come to my senses and painted them black in the epically long challenge Kit and I dubbed Dueling DIY, but the question I seem to get the most often is: with Charlie walking around on them, do they ever get scratched?

Yes, of course they do. And last night, I took a picture to show ya. That last step on the bottom is usually where she rounds the hallway and takes an angled leap up the stairs, which is apparently perfect for making huge gouges along the edge (scuff marks are clearly visible).

No matter, though. I expected this all along and wanted to put a runner up the middle (first for traction, now for this). In fact, I already went out and purchased my first test rug from Ikea to see what a neutral runner might look like going up these steps. I’d already seen this runner used in other DIY projects (this one is very similar), so I was hoping it would be a good fit.

What I didn’t realize though, is that visualizing this is actually really hard for me. I didn’t purchase more than one test rug (hey, I’m cheap), and I didn’t tack things down to keep it snug on the stairs. But I see a too-beige rug that brings out all the wrong tones in my new paint color (yes, I know paint is cheap, but so are these rugs, and the rugs would force me to have to start repainting fifteen separate wall surfaces to make them work).

You can see what I mean in a photo looking directly up the stairs (I moved the rug a little higher just to see if my eyes could visualize the entire set better). The back tan wall will be painted the same color as the lighter greige going up the stair walls, so that rug will basically be the only tan thing. While I love the black and white contrast, the greige and tan contrast doesn’t work for me as much.

What do you think? Should I go lighter? Darker? Think I’m crazy and this rug would work just fine? See here for a few of the other options I was considering. And don’t forget, this staircase challenge update isn’t complete without mentioning a few of the other blogs who are still going strong:

Are you redoing your staircase? Join in on the fun and link up in the comments. Kit (the DIY Diva) and I began this challenge earlier this year in the hopes that a little competition would spur us to complete a damn project for a change (instead of starting eight at once), and I’m glad to say that despite the many other project distractions, I’m committed to working on this each week, no matter how painfully slow it seems to me. Kit got distracted too with things like fever-induced hallucinations, chicken nuggets, and runaway donkeys (both of which are totally real and not the fever), so for now, I’m giving the girl a break and giving her a little room to focus on keeping the animals (and herself) alive.

Okay, so maybe there was one text goading her, but in my defense, I first asked about the fever breaking before implying I’m whooping her ass at this competition. Because I care.

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  1. My first thought on seeing this picture was – step away from the yellow tones! Was glad that you’re repainting to a more neutral, less yellowy color. So my suggestion is to go for a runner with some color. One with a pattern so that the Charlie marks are less noticable. Check out all the stripey ones at the bottom of this post. Am in love!

  2. I really like the pattern on the rug you have. However, you are correct. I think it is way to far on the tan side to work with your new “greige” walls. And you will NOT repaint! Clear? I am not one to think things should be too matchy-matchy. If you do that you open up a room to having to be all the same hues/tones…whatever. But because this space is a stairway (hence no furniture/other fabrics to pull it all together) there are only going to be a few things going on here–a painted stairway, rug, and pictures (I believe you said). Therefore, I would try to get something that will hide dirt, work /flow better with the wall color, but not as noticably TAN. I love the dash and albert options. With the diamond design you could go with a color–say their awesome green? Check out the stripe runners too–some nuetral with some color. Sorry–not as cheap as ikea!

    1. Haha, crystal clear! I am not repainting, nuh-uh. And yeah, Ikea is probably my cheapest option. Seeing about maybe DIYing something with something cheap (and maybe painting it?).

      1. Andrea has the striped ones (in the link) that I was referring to. Nuetral but with some color. Note: Having lived in several homes don’t worry TOO much about the next buyer. If you did that you would live in a house of tan! You need to be happy while you are there and if some people can’t visualize or look past a stair runner, then YIKES! I looked past ALOT of “treats” in our 1960’s tri-level and love our home–did our fix ups ourselves and on a budget. You will find the right one :)

  3. I love the pattern on that rug, but hate it in your space! It makes your fresh new walls look yucky. What about a colored rug (not a neutral)?

    1. Yeah, I’m wondering about that too. I love the idea of adding color. The only challenge is since this isn’t my forever home, I’m prone to going neutral (buyers are so picky and I’m not going to replace it prior to selling).

      1. The great challenge would be to find a color or color+pattern that works as a neutral? Maybe a blue of some sort?

      2. I’d say, if you love the idea of adding color, add it! It’s your house, and you have to live with it for the next X years, so why try and design for some mysterious unknown home buyer down the road? Heck, they might even like the color :)

        Love the re design so far, and all while being a full time jobber/student! Phew!

        1. Solid point, Liz. When I find the one that suits me best, I know myself enough to know I will say: buyer be damned, I want it! So I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before the right one comes along.

  4. you’re right about the color, but I’m loving the modern take on the herringbone pattern! :)

  5. I agree with the people suggesting a pop of color. Go bold. With your black and white stairs and a “greige” tone for the wall, why not try a red or a blue even?

  6. i definitely love the pattern of that one, but the tan is too tan. i loved the idea of using something with color…especially with the black and white stairs and the light colored walls. i’m a sucker for colorful spaces that add a little funk!

  7. I agree that the runner is just too tan, although I am a big fan of that Ikea rug. I think some rich colors would look awesome! I love following your stairway adventures – I’ll be tackling mine at some point!

  8. What about painting that rug? Do a watered down slightly darker shade (to hide dirt) of greige, kind of a whitewashed effect, that might still let the pattern show through, but tone down the gold.

  9. Because you have a dog, I would NOT go lighter. If I were you I would go colorful . Something that will hide the dog wear and tear. It looks great so far though!

  10. I think a light color would look nice! and pattern is always fun :) Can’t wait to see!

  11. That rug is pretty, but too safe. You know the post you linked too, the crazy colored rug at the bottom? Can you find a rug with those colors (or any multi-color, essentially) where the stripes will run UP the stairs? You need a little pop right there….and since it’s up the stairs, you won’t have to match it to everything else in the house, it’s a great place to have something a bit crazier, since it’s isolated to one space….

  12. The colourful one you posted at the end of the other post! Or something similar. So much more fun.

  13. I don’t like the stripes on that rug at all… sorry! reminds me of chevron… and I don’t like chevron… hope you find a rug that works and will not show up the dirt from pitter patter of doggie feet!

  14. For whatever reason I just don’t like that black/white look on steps. I’d prefer either a hardwood/oak type look or just have them carpeted.

    My house is mostly hardwood except for some tile in the hallway/kitchen/baths but the steps are still carpeted. Mostly because when I had the first floor dining/living rooms refinished there wasn’t enough time to do the steps because of when the movers were arriving. I’m guessing the costs of doing 12 steps + the landing might be equal to doing those rooms.

    I might rip up the carpet one day to see the condition of the steps and if bad I might just re-carpet it. I can’t see paying a couple thousand just for steps (maybe my estimate is way off but things are pricey in the MD/DC/VA area).

    Is the black/white scheme some kind of traditional style thing for those types of homes?

    1. I prefer the hardwood look too. But these stairs were simply far too damaged from removing the carpet to look good with a stain, and as you mentioned, replacing each tread would have been more cost than I was willing to sink into the project. After the nastiness of the carpet that I tore off, there was NO WAY I was going to go back to carpet, so paint was pretty much the best (and least costly) approach out of the three.

      Black and white on stairs is more of a modern look. There’s a good example of one in this post.

  15. Honestly, I like the rug, just not on the stairs. With your wall color, I’d say a nice red, green, or blue (bold or more pastel) would look amazing. Just my thoughts though. The pattern is nice but, again, I’m not sure if it fits the stairs. Looking up a a bunch of sideways zigzags might make you walk crooked?! :) I’m sure you’ll find something truly perfect and stunning!

  16. You are doing such a great job so far! I really love the black and white combo with the greige. Have you ever considered doing a navy patterned runner on the stairs? Just a thought!

    1. Yep! If you look at the link to the previous post (where I have a few different options considered), there was a navy-ish vertical stripe one from Ikea that another blogger used which looks AMAZING on her stairs. I think a nautical/navy color mix would look pretty sharp. Maybe I just have to find the right pattern! Great suggestion.

  17. That one looks far too yellow against the wall color. I love the multi colored one at the bottom of the post you linked to. It has enough different colors that it won’t box you into a specific color scheme plus it will be a nice punch of color coming in the door.

    As far as resale value and going neutral I personally say don’t! Or at least not on the stairs. It’s a simple enough change that if that’s the only thing a potential buyer doesn’t like they WILL overlook it.

  18. Sorry, I have to disagree with everyone. I like the black w/ white stripes rug. I feel this would tie together the stark black/white stairs, without conflicting with any wall colors.

  19. I agree that the beige is not the color. The pattern is great but I think a stripe of many colors would be cool. The stripe will draw the eye up the stair and the colors would be quite splashy!

  20. Yeah, that rug does not do the stairway justice. Too bland. Dark gray colours, woolish (I just saw a gray, black & whitish tiny pattern rug at Ikea) that would look nice. Pick a rug to match the stairs rather then the walls.

  21. Reading your post title I immediately thought of the dark runner on little green notebook’s stair re-do, so I was happy to see in in your link up of possible candidates!

  22. I am more of a “play it safe” decorator, but I think that rug is screaming to be red! I’m not sure how it would go with the flow of the rest of the house though.

  23. The scratches were a little more difficult. Some of them were pretty deep. I sanded as much as I could, but I would have had to sand a lot of the wood away if I was going to get it as smooth as possible. I left it like this and thought it would work out okay.