Staircase runner ideas – 15 designs that will instantly elevate your hallway steps

These staircase runner ideas are sure to give a low-key and lacklustre hallway design a style leg up

Art Deco inspired staircase runner ideas with fanned design
(Image credit: Divine Savages)

Staircase runner ideas can add interest and offer practical benefits for your hallway and landing. Not only can they provide a color pop on your stairs, but they also provide a soft, comfortable and warm texture underfoot.

So whether dad's on an early shift at work, or mum's nursing the baby, the sound of stomping feet won't wake the rest of the family.

As far as staircase ideas go, it's a fairly affordable idea that can quickly elevate a bland set of wooden stairs, making it a fun and stable place for children to tie their shoelaces, ready to head out of the door.

And, of course for adults, it can present a smart and tidy solution to cover stairs that have seen better days, especially if you rent or own a period-style home, where these steps may have seen some wear and tear.

Staircase runner ideas that are stylish and practical

'A staircase runner creates an inviting first impression adding texture and warmth. As a transient area stairs present an opportunity to be adventurous with color and pattern taking color throughout the home, ' says Andy Guard, creative director, Roger Oates Design.

'Staircase runners offer the best of both worlds; the luxury of soft flooring which if installed with a good underlay reduces noise underfoot and the narrow width of the flat weave reveals the wood beneath which can be painted in a complementary or contrasting shade for dramatic effect.'

'Choosing a carpet for your staircase can be more difficult than choosing carpet for other areas in your home. In addition to making decisions on durability and color, the carpet needs to be suitable for the layout of the staircase.'

'For example, not all stair carpets can be installed with a good aesthetic on winding steps if the design is highly patterned. Flat weave offers a flexible, versatile product which can be manipulated and pattern matched around corners – unlike a carpet with a secondary backing, which is very rigid.'

1. Incorporate a dark runner into a black hallway design

Hallway with black decor and black runner by Roger Oates

(Image credit: Roger Oates)

If you like the thought of a dramatic but biophilic scheme, adding a dark stair runner idea will add a moody atmosphere to your hallway ideas.

Styled with black wall decor and lots of houseplants you can create a stunning and sophisticated space. This pinstripe design draws the eye up and is akin to the smartness of a well-tailored suit.

From a practical perspective, if you've got children, mud, food and other debris is better hidden when selecting a staircase carpet runner idea in a dark flat-weave too.

'Before the rugs and runner went down I did not realize what a game changer it would be for the space, ' says interior designer Abigail Ahern.

'My hallway now feels like the coolest room in the house. It’s glamorous, sophisticated and underfoot it is amazing. The hallway is your entry point to your world and although it;’s a transitional area it now feels as sumptuous and as beautiful as every other room in the house.'

'Choosing which Roger Oates Design runner was very hard but in the end it came down to my color palette on the walls which is a soft brown, so I knew adding a mostly black stair runner would knock that area out of the park.'

2. Match your stair runner to your wall art

Art Deco inspired stair runner with fan shaped motif in blue and pink alongside jungle-inspired hallway wallpaper idea and framed wall decor

(Image credit: Divine Savages for Alternative Flooring)

OK, how glam is this Art-Deco inspired staircase runner idea? Beautifully feminine with a pink and blue fan motif, this timeless design will be the talking point at dinner parties and house warmings alike.

But step back a second, and you'll see that there's so much more to this entryway idea. While this jazzy design from Divine Savages pays homage to the roaring 1920s, the accompanying framed wall decor idea also reinforces the fun that was had in this era. 

But if you're not a fan of this period, note that it can work for any trend. For example, you could match the global wallpaper motif with a palm tree print and a leopard motif stair runner instead.

3. Add a military twist to an industrial chic hallway

Camo design stair runner with concrete grey wall decor

(Image credit: Ella Doran for Alternative Flooring)

'Camouflage is inspired by the Plain trees of London Fields, my local park,' says award-winning designer, Ella Doran.

'I have deliberately used a soft focused photographic affect and enlarged the scale of the bark, to allow the design to be integrated into a multitude of interior settings and applications.'

We'd pair this with concrete-effect wall paint, just as Ella herself has. But don't just limit yourself to a grey hallway idea – a chalky pink or off-white will look equally as good for a 90s girl power scheme.

4. Choose a runner that is an extension of your carpet

White staircase with pink spotted carpet and matching stair runner design

(Image credit: Carpetright)

We're absolutely dotty about this pink and white spot motif hallway flooring idea and matching staircase runner idea.

'Opting for repeating patterns will not only allow your design to flow easily into other rooms, but will be forgiving to everyday marks and scuffs as your stairs see some serious use over their lifetime,' says Jemma Dayman, Buyer, Carpets and Rugs, Carpetright.

Accentuate this romantic, country scheme with an assortment of dried and fresh bouquets. We like the quirky use of welly boots as a vase. You could also use a trug or fruit crate for a rustic display.

5. Go low-maintenance with a whipped border design

Pink stairs with black stair runner and encaustic traditional printed floor tiles

(Image credit: Alternative Flooring)

Whipping is the process of binding your staircase runner carpet edges to keep them looking nice and neat. It also keeps your carpet looking great for years to come by stopping the material from fraying over time.

'Our whipped border finish is a continuous thread which is sewn around the edges of your bespoke rug or runner, similar to an overlock stitch on fabric, ' explains Lorna Haigh, creative director, Alternative Flooring.

'For those looking for a more minimal finish to their bespoke rug or runner, a self-colored whipped border would be the ideal choice.' 

And, if you’re laying carpet elsewhere in your home, you can save time and money by creating a stair runner idea from an spare off-cut of material. Alternatively, choose a full width carpet that can be cut to size.

6. Use a staircase runner to contrast floor tiles

Hallway with staircase runner, hard tiled flooring

(Image credit: Emma Sims-Hilditch)

It can be tricky to know how to blend your staircase runner with a Victorian floor tiling scheme, especially if the latter has a busy or bright pattern. 

One approach is to be bold and go for a complete pattern clash, as seen here.

'When transitioning from hard floor to carpet, a runner is a perfect way to unify the space in between and feel less imposing than fully carpeted stairs.' says Emma Sims-Hilditch, creative director of Sims Hilditch.

Another option would have been to pick one of the dominant tones in the tiles and match your runner to that color. 

7. Coordinate your stair runner with a matching carpet runner

Fairisle printed stair case runner and carpet runner by Margo Selby with chair and pair of shoes in shot

(Image credit: Margo Selby for Alternative Flooring)

Just as you'd put certain pieces of clothing together to create a coordinated outfit, you can also apply the same practice to your hallway with a matching staircase runner and carpet runner idea.

This traditional fairisle design by textile artist and Mastercraft's mentor, Margo Selby is part of her range in collaboration with Alternative Flooring.

Speaking about the collection, she says: 'I like to explore technical constructions on my hand loom and combine fibers and structure to innovate new fabrics and patterns.' 

8. Paint your banister in a complementary color

Pink and black staircase runner with pink banister and floral printed wallpaper design by Roger Oates

(Image credit: Roger Oates)

If you've got an eccentric personality - show it off with a bold staircase runner idea. In this scheme, the stairs have been given a bold and punchy lick of pink paint and  coupled with a busy, floral hallway wallpaper idea for maximalist goals.

But, the beauty is in this black and magenta runner which complements and brings the decor together in a cohesive scheme. The floor lamp with its dark pink shade and bulbous silhouette, and tiled glass wall decor add a bit of glam to make this space less kitsch and more confident.

'Bold, borders are striking on stairs, complementing decorative wallpapers and geometric patterned floors, ' says Guard.

'Individual colors in the design can be picked out for paintwork for dramatic effect. The subtle herringbone design adds texture and warmth.

9. Mix and match the color of your runner to zone floors

Staircase with green and red stair runners across different levels of home by Roger Oates

(Image credit: Roger Oates)

Clad to the stairs in many classic homes, a staircase runner idea is perfect if you want to inject some charm into your traditional hallway ideas. But, if you'd like to execute this idea in a way that's not so run-of-the-mill, one way to do this is to mix and match the color of your runner across different floors of the home.

This idea works particularly well if you have a tall townhouse design, or have recently remodeled your home to include a loft extension. In this scheme, traditional colors such as red and green provide zone each level of the home, and the rainbow bench adds a place to rest and relax on the landing.

10. Use vertical stripes to heighten, horizontal to widen

Striped staircase design by Carpetright in hallway

(Image credit: Carpetright)

Here at Real Homes, we understand that not all homes look the same and love to embrace the differences in floor plan design. Some of you will have a long and narrow hallway, while others will have a wide, shorter space. One way to make the most of these two different types of entryway is to use stripes to trick the eye.

Vertically-striped stair carpets will give the illusion that your set of steps appearing taller, while horizontal stripes make narrow staircases look wider. Whichever direction your stripes take, know that they'll almost magically disguise scuffs, which is great for a family home or one that takes a lot of footfall, such as a student home or house of multiple occupation.

11. Make bedtime fun with a child-friendly design

Red stair runner with star motif on black stairs in hallway with Herringbone effect wooden flooring

(Image credit: Alternative Flooring)

For most parents with young children, bedtime can often be a battle. Throwing a tantrum and coming downstairs for a glass of water are commonplace examples of protest and problematic situations you may be familiar with.

By choosing a staircase runner in a cute and colorful design, there may be hope to make going to bed an exciting event. We love this star motif from Alternative Flooring, but spots, zig-zags and other interesting shapes work well too. And if you're not brave enough to embrace a red carpet, it's also available in a more classic (and soothing) blue colorway too.

12. Cheat with a painted runner

Annie Sloan Hallway Chalk Paint In Honfleur And Emperor's Silk Gloss Lacquer On Stairs

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

'If you're on a budget – or have pets that like to destroy your carpets – think outside the box and fake the look with paint,' says Amy Cutmore at Real Homes. 'You'll need a hard-wearing finish for this hard-working space, so as well as choosing a quality floor paint, it's worth protecting with lacquer.'

In this space, the owner has used Annie Sloan chalk paint in shade Honfleur and Emperor's Silk gloss lacquer.

As for color choices, give your hallway a glamorous A-list vibe with red staircase runner idea. It's a hue that'll certainly make guests feel like you've laid this staircase carpet runner idea out just for them. It's also a traditional option that will suit a period home. 

Ornate touches such as the detailed umbrella stand and oil paintings add to the charming atmosphere of this foyer design.

13. Opt for a stair tread idea instead

Beige stair tread with concrete style steps and white wall decor

(Image credit: Wayfair)

If you don't want to decorate your stairs with a continuous piece of carpet, a stair tread idea can provide your steps with the grip and stability you need - especially if you're working with worn or a really well-polished set of stairs, that can present a slip risk.

But, just because you're using this material for a functional purpose, this shouldn't limit you to boring style choices. This stair tread from Wayfair would suit a boho or contemporary Scand-chic scheme, when used in conjunction with other modern hallway ideas. Although made from synthetic fiber, this woven material mimics the look of organic material such as rattan and bamboo.

14. Look for independent staircase runner suppliers

Sisal herringbone effect runner

(Image credit: FT Runners)

'This handmade natural sisal herringbone stair runner is a chic and popular pattern coupled for those look for an eco-friendly alternative to man-made or animal derived fiber carpets.' says James Teale, owner and manager of FTRunners.

Although based in London, UK, while chatting to Teale, he also mentioned that many US folk choose to shop online through their Etsy page, where you can find lots of positive reviews.

15. Add some stair rods for added stability

Traditional print carpet stair runner with metal stair rods on wooden staircase

(Image credit: Stair rods direct)

'If you want to add a touch of luxury to your stairway space you should consider having a stair runner accessorized with some stylish stair rods,' says Nick Acaster, managing director of Stair Rods Direct and Rugs Direct.

'Stair runners add a touch of coziness and style to your staircase, as well as helping to protect your floorboards from foot traffic. Stair rods are a perfect way of adding a decorative flair.

'Stair rods are available in different colors and finishes - whether you prefer a traditional look with brass stair rods, or maybe a more modern feel with black, chrome or crystal rods and can be made to suit the exact dimensions of your staircase and can be easily fitted by a novice DIYer.'

'The latest trend we are seeing is to use LVT, or other non-carpet options on your staircase, then using stair noses to create the wow-factor. You can either utilize your flooring selection within the nose or have a solid color to finish the nose of your step.'

What is the best pattern for a staircase runner?

'Often the first thing you see when entering a house, the stairs and hallway create a first and lasting impression on your guests,' says Dayman.

'It's the perfect area to take risks and be daring with your styling. A bold and geometric staircase design in bright colors will give your stairs that wow-factor and work well when mixed with minimalist furniture and accessories.'

And Guard adds: 'Runners should not be defined only as protective but are decorative in their own right. A brightly colored runner will add a welcoming touch and lasting impression the minute you open the front door, '

'If laid with with underlay runners soften the resonating sounds of crashing feet but allow the wood below to be visible making them far chicer than fitted carpets. Stripe runners are especially versatile complementing decorative and geometric tiles.'

How do you secure a stair runner?

There are many ways to secure a staircase runner, but the most common way to fix it to the stairs is by using staples or gripper rods. Aesthetically-pleasing and functional, the latter has many benefits as one expert explains...

'The first and most obvious benefit of stair rods is the sheer grandeur and style they add to a staircase. Transforming any stairs from ordinary to luxurious, full stair rods make a staircase and stair runner look truly complete while adding value to your home,' says Myles Shaw, founder and managing director at Runrug.

'While solid stair rods are considered the classic, traditional option, these are not your only choice. You can also opt for a set of hollow stair rods, which are much more lightweight and easy to cut to any length with a simple DIY hacksaw. This is all while outwardly appearing like solid, expensive metal; clever, no?'

'Stair rods come in a huge variety of metals and coatings as well as wood varieties, plus a wide range of designs. And this abundance of choice extends beyond simply the design of the decorative finials; the rod itself can also be worked into all kinds of different styles from plain to reeded, spiral and triangular designs, giving you a vast array of interior design options.'

Can any carpet be made into a staircase runner?

'100% wool flat weave is more akin to fabric than carpet making it perfect upholstery for stairs with a smart tailored appearance,' says Guard.

'The narrow width and natural selvedge edge make it ideal for stairs and enable the flat weave to be joined by hand for wall to wall flooring in halls and landings. Its intrinsic suppleness means that it can be fitted on to winding staircases with the design matching and without comprising the flow, unlike a carpet with a secondary backing which can be very rigid.'

'A wool flat weave runner needs to be fitted by an expert, its intrinsic suppleness means that it is manipulated around winders so the design has a continuous flow. Each turn is individual and how to handle differing angles is part of the skill.'

Christina Chrysostomou
Former acting head ecommerce editor

Hi, I'm the former acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a first class degree from Keele University, and a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket and have gone through the internal customer advisor accreditation process.