Saving Steps

The first time we visited the 1811 Federal with our real estate agent, we entered through the front door and found ourselves standing in a foreboding foyer. Over the course of 200+ years, a succession of occupants defined and redefined the narrow passage with layer upon layer of wallpaper. The most recent residents attempted to brighten the space by painting the multi-layered walls with a distinct shade of avocado. Unfortunately, the time worn pine green hall runners and stair runners worked in tandem to darken the space’s horizontal and vertical aspects.

stair before 2

stair before

To create welcoming hallways on the first and second floors, we removed the carpeting, reinforced the original staircases with under-mounted supports, painted the treads and bannisters black, painted the risers, balusters and stair brackets white, installed blue board and plaster veneer over the wallpapered sections above the chair rails, added grass cloth wall covering, painted the chair rail and wainscoting white, refinished the hardwood flooring in the halls, installed recessed lighting and an antique pendant light. We also replaced a metal entry door that was painted red.  Our new wooden entry door will be painted black to match the bannisters and risers.




For the finishing touch, we turned our attention to hall runners and stair runners. In keeping with the Federal period, we originally planned on installing blue runners with yellow stars. We determined a budget and headed to a local carpet store known for their reasonable prices. We were excited to find a star patterned carpet; however the $12 per square foot cost of the stair runners and installation exceeded our budget. When we factored in the cost of adding matching hall runners we were crestfallen. How could carpet be so expensive?


Then I remembered that stair runners and hall runners could easily be cut and bound from discounted carpet remnants. So next we visited a nearby high-end carpet retailer. When we entered the store we immediately headed to the rear section where the remnants are displayed. As luck would have it, a large blue remnant distinguished by a golden oriental star pattern stood out among the stacked rolls of carpet. The salesperson explained that the remnant was left over from another client’s expensive custom carpet order. We mentioned that we needed stair runners and hall runners for a Federal home and the salesperson offered to follow us home to measure the spaces and provide an estimate. He spent about one hour in our home measuring and punching numbers on his calculator. When the moment of truth arrived, the cost of creating our carpeting from the remnant and installation was $6 per square foot.


stair 3

stair 2

stair 1

stair 4

By working with the remnant and carpet professionals, we now have superior quality runners that were expertly installed for a fraction of the cost of standard carpet. If you are considering new carpet for your home, please explore the affordable solutions waiting for you in the remnant section.

To read more about trends in stair runners, read my column for The Daily Basics: