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I think I have finally found my stair runner.

You may remember this project from the spring, right? Kit from DIY Diva and I squared off in a competition we called “Dueling DIY”. The goal was that each of us would work on our staircase – and more importantly, actually finish a project for a change (since both of us are compulsive project starters, but finishing? Meh). We also invited you guys to play along and work on your own stairs (since for me, a bunch of like-minded tool heads on the internet is somehow extremely motivating when I start thinking that Netflix sounds like a better way to spend an evening).

We got most of our respective staircases finished before we both ran out of steam (and a few of you guys actually finished, so at least someone benefited, even if it wasn’t the original two schemers behind the whole thing). I then promptly began six other big tasks (like the kitchen and laundry room) before finding a stair runner. In fairness, it was the last step of the project; I’d finished everything up until that point. I called it good and assumed that the runner might take a while to find (especially since my first few attempts fell flat and I couldn’t seem to find anything – rug or no rug – that I liked).

For a long time, I’d been searching for something patterned. Something with stripes, maybe. But every time I’ve put stripes or a pattern on these stairs, they’ve felt too busy. I was obsessed with patterned stair photos on Pinterest, like this one (from here):

But the more I tried patterns, the more I realized that my house may not be quite as stripe-friendly. By painting my stairs a stark black and white contrast in a small space (like my tiny house) and in the middle of my entryway, I already had plenty going on. Adding another pattern might be a toe over the line for me. And so, I began hunting for something more simplified (from here).

It took a few more months (I was distracted with other house projects, after all). But after this most recent trip to Ikea, I think I may have finally found it:

Gray, textured, and well within my price range. I picked up two long runners ($80 for the pair) and probably need a third, but I won’t be able to get back to the stair project until after the holidays. Which bugs me endlessly, since I now have what I’ve been looking for (does this happen to you too?). So to satisfy my curiosity for a little while, I turned to my friend Photoshop. The color is probably going to be a little lighter than this in person, but you get the idea:

stairs runner_

I even tried putting one of the rugs on the stairs, but since the rug is nice and stiff (but soft, and seems like it will hold up to high traffic), it wasn’t very cooperative and I had to use nearby props to hold it along the stairs (like a container of Osmocote fertilizer and a case of drill bits – you know, stuff that lies around an unkempt house full of unfinished projects).

Yep, I think we have it. Durable (aka pup-proof), simple (which will let other things stand out more, like the surrounding decor and art), and a good deal better than any of the other things I found (too thin, wrong material, too expensive, too wide, too beige, etc. etc).

Whaddya think?

(P.S. Next spring, I’ll be looking to do another Dueling DIY project. I’m thinking maybe the dining room, since it’s been so long since I actually started it. If you’re about to start a dining room renovation project of your own, feel free to send me an email and let me know – I’m looking for another co-host to keep things interesting. Must be willing to talk a little smack and post weekly about your progress. Ha!)

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  1. I love what you’ve done with the stairs (though it looks like that spot on the left railing (banister?) where it peeled the first time needs another coat of paint–so frustrating!

    As for the runner, to be honest, I’m not sold. I think that it’s too solid. I agree that some of the patterns you showed were too busy, but what about something with a subtle pattern–almost a tone on tone or something? I think that as a colour, grey is an excellent choice. What about something with a lighter and darker grey?

    In the end, if you go with the IKEA runner, it will, of course, look great. You need to go with what you like best, and everyone has different tastes.

    p.s. I’m very excited to follow you as you do your bathrrom reno–that’s what we’re gearing up for in the spring!

    1. Yeah, I understand what you mean – unfortunately, there just aren’t enough options for that “in-between” runner – I wish! This fits just about every criteria I needed, so instead of spending another six months waiting around, I’m going for it. I can’t wait to get the rest of the stuff decorated (which will hopefully make the “safe” runner choice balance out among the other, more pattern-heavy stuff I’m thinking of putting in here). Thanks for the input, and I’m definitely hoping to get back to that bathroom reno soon!

  2. I’m unfortunately also not sold. I think that the grey is too dark, and your pretty black stairs aren’t showing themselves off anymore. They’re now muted into the background.

    I really love the texture on the Ikea runner, but not the color.

    Also, loving your new, more neutral wall color over the other one that we see in the pics.

  3. I dig it. I like texture over pattern when it comes to runners. Why draw attention to the dog hair collecting in the corners? I’m actually looking at that IKEA one and a thin gray runner sold by Home Depot for my stairs. Great minds!

    1. Haha, my thoughts exactly – taking our eyes away from the dog hair is number one on the list.

  4. LOVING IT…..I like patterned runners too but I think the one you chose fits so perfectly.

  5. I’m liking it alot! Sometimes we think we want a cool pattern, see awesome pictures, etc. but in the end simpler is better. I like it because although one color, you have the texture. If lighter like in the top picture, good–don’t think you should go too dark. I think this will work very well with a dog. And the price is right. :) Remind me of the wall color–I don’t like mixing tan and grey–just me!

  6. I have to say, when I first saw the teaser post I rushed over to the Ikea website…. only to find that the runner is too wide for my stairs :-(

    I have that very same rug in my living room, but in beige (going on 1 year now)… So far it has resisted my two dirty-pawed 180lbs wolfhounds (who bring in 1 pound of dirt per paw every time it rains…. and in Belgium it rains 310 days a year)….. I just hoover it up once everything is a little dried up and it still looks great.

    That to say…. Good choice and I wish my staircase were wider!!!

  7. It looks amazing! The texture makes up for a lack of pattern and I’m surprised how good the grey looks against the black and white- very chic.

  8. Being a guy, I’m curious to know how are you going to hold it down? Will you use those rods at the bottom of the riser and tack the rest? Or tack/staple it all? How well does it hold up to bending under the nose of the tred?

    I like the solid gray just because it will wear nicely while covering up stair dust.

    1. Didn’t, haven’t completed it yet (I was just putting weights on the stairs to see what it might look like). I’ll probably use my electric staple gun.

  9. Not bad! A great mix of “color” to battle dust/hair/foot traffic And the best part is that since it’s from IKEA, if ya’ll ever destroy it, you can replace it and not have to spend $$$$$. Congrats on graduation! :) :)

  10. I’m also on team not sold :(
    I think it looks a little indoor/outdoor compared to your sophisticated choices everywhere else. Maybe it looks more plush in person?

    Do you think it’s a permanent solve, or a temporary better-than-ruining-all-the-painting-and-preventing-Charlie-slips?

    1. It’s definitely a permanent choice; I don’t want to come back to this project a second time (I’ll already need to touch up the paint thanks to Charlie’s claws). It may not look like much now, but in person, I’m more and more convinced that simple is the way to go.

  11. Might there be a way to add fabric tape or a border of some sort to the edges to jazz it up a little and make it look more like your inspiration pic? I like the texture but agree with Dina that it looks like indoor/outdoor carpeting in the photos. Nice work on actually making a choice though…all too often I find myself paralyzed with indecision when I can’t find the perfect thing.