The Great Carpet Debate: How to Dress Up Your Staircase

Dear Ruth,
Our stairs are basically the first thing you see when you enter our front doorany thoughts on how to make them a strong feature in our home?
Goldy R., Aspen 

Dear Goldy,
To carpet, or not to carpetthat is the question.  My answer wasn’t always so black and white because, admittedly, I was pretty anti-carpet when we first moved to Denver.  My thoughts are now more in favor of it (bedrooms for starters), and a stair runner has become an absolute must.

If you don’t currently have wood on your stairs, start there and add a stair runner covering most of the surface, leaving roughly three to six inches on either side.  Another option is to do wood end caps and carpet down the middle or use wood laminate as an alternative to real wood (great-looking and way more economical).

The options are endless, and a runner is a great way to splurge on a high-end carpet without committing to a lot of square feet. 

My current favorite is this blue and white pattern, but I constantly go back to a classic sisal runner, and love it every time I see one installed. 

All stair runners can be bound with various colors and fabrics, which makes customizing your staircase even more fun. 

Source: Elements of Style blog, Photographer: Tessa Neustadt

One last thought would be to add an animal print on your stairs.  It’s amazing how well marks are hidden (camouflage pun intended) on these patterns, and, like jeans, animal prints go with everything. 

Don’t forget to have your spindles and newel posts painted.  Latest obsession over here is all black! Hint: See Go to the Dark Side: Decorating With Black.

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Got a design question?  Ask Ruth!  

Ruth SonnensheinRuth's style has always been a perfect mixture of high and low, pairing flea market finds with new gems to create a wonderful balance and a well lived-in space.  


Having grown up in Denver, Ruth stayed close to home while studying Apparel and Merchandising at Colorado State University before moving to New York City to start a career in magazines, followed by a tenure in Los Angeles where she was an editorial and celebrity wardrobe stylist. 


Whether curating a client's wardrobe or making a room in their home come to life, Ruth's ability to pair old with new, add infusions of color and dimension and maintain an overall understanding of each individual's sensibility has made her transition from wardrobe to interior design a natural progression. 


Ruth now resides in Denver with her husband, three children and two Brussels Griffons. 

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