Plans for the steps

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Decorating, My House47 Comments

I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!  I know this particular holiday can be bitter sweet for some, remembering mothers or children they have lost or never knew or had.  But I hope some joy could be found, even for those who are mourning.

I celebrated mother’s day by being a mom/wife…cooking pancakes for the boys, making one of Jeff’s favorite meals for an early dinner, supervising chores and Nerf wars, cleaning the house, and yes, even doing some laundry.  I received a button necklace made with only blue and green buttons and white beads.  I was also given a bouquet of white roses, a card with a singing cat, and a piece of my favorite lemon cake.  And I was given some quiet time to paint in my studio.  All around, a pretty nice day.

So, today I’m sharing about some more plans I have…

One of the things I love about this house is the staircase.  I have always wanted “back stairs” in a house since I was a child.  Remember the “cool” sitcom houses, like on The Cosby Show and Full House.  They both had back stairs in the kitchen.  I thought every truly cool house had back stairs.  I never thought I would find them in a suburban home in Minnesota, though.

While this isn’t truly a separate back staircase, it completely met that fanciful childhood dream.

I also love the front stairs and how they are such a beautiful focal point in the foyer.

I have to confess, though…the carpet is a bit of a bummer.  Now, in fairness, it is practical and safe.  It cushions slips and falls and feels nice underfoot.  It really doesn’t even look that bad.  It is, however, a royal paint to keep clean.  Even though we generally don’t wear shoes in the house, they accumulate dog hair, sock fuzz, dust, fluff, lint, etc.  Even after a thorough vacuuming, they don’t look completely clean.  The edges are covered in pilled fibers and the creases hold the tinge of 14 years of dust.

There have been several times I have had an intense urge to just rip them out.  A level head prevailed, though, and I knew it would be a mistake to rip them out without Jeff on board and some sort of a plan.

I approached Jeff one afternoon with, “So, I’ve been thinking about a project for the house…”  I pitched my idea of ripping out the carpet, painting the steps, and adding a runner.  To my surprise, he actually gave me the green light.  I think it helped that he had to vacuum the steps on one occasion when my back was hurting.  He hated the chore as much as I did and I welcomed him into my world of disliking this plush carpet on these particular steps.

So, here is the plan…

I’m going to rip up the carpet to see what we’re dealing with.  I am about 99% sure it’s just unfinished wood under the carpet.  I am also pretty sure the trim under the tread doesn’t run all the way across each step.  So, I’ll add trim and paint the treads Coventry Gray and the risers white and then add a stair runner.  Something along these lines…

(Photo source – Our Storied Home)

I installed stair runner in our last house (tutorial is here) and it held up well, so I am confident this is a doable DIY project for me.

I do have a landing with stairs off of two sides, so that might just be left painted and I’ll add the runners just to each length of stairs.  That would actually work well, because I would most likely only need to use one runner on each section.  Also, Sebastian likes to lay on the landing and that would get covered in dog hair regularly.

For the runner itself, I’m considering something like this neutral indoor/outdoor rug from Dash & Albert

I like that it comes in 12′ and 18′ lengths, which means less cutting and splicing.  As I said above, I think I could get away with just one runner per section, which would mean no splicing.

It’ll be a big project, but one that will make a huge difference in customizing this home to our tastes.

I have promised Jeff that I will finish other projects, like painting the trim, sewing projects, etc., before I get started on this one.  It’s probably smart to wait until the foyer is painted as well and we’re going to get a quote on replacing the tile in the entry/powder room.  This is one of those cases where one thing affects another and it’s better to be patient and do it in an order that makes sense instead of rushing ahead and regretting it later.

Anyway, it’s good motivation for me to work on my to-do list and a good opportunity to practice patience.

I’ll have to remember that the next time I get the urge to rip that carpet out with my bare hands…

Plans for the steps

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47 Comments on “Plans for the steps”

  1. Yep, after 3 days off my regular mom duties doing garden center shopping, I spent Mother’s Day doing chores! I WANTED to do them. It was pleasant to be cleaning again! I like things to be clean, it helps me relax.

    It is really nice having those back stairs, how fun! But carpeted stairs are a NIGHTMARE (other than for noise reduction). We have them now, but they will be going as soon as we can afford it. We’ll have to have them re-surfaced from a professional stair refinisher, because they are just rough wood underneath, but then they’ll be easy to clean. It takes at least 45 minutes to vacuum them now, which doesn’t get done often enough.

    1. I’m stunned that it takes you 45 minutes to vacuum your stairs! My house is three stories with a central staircase from the 1st to 3rd floors that is carpeted. It takes me nowhere near that amount of time, even when I go over them again with the vacuum attachment for the corners.

  2. I’ve had both carpet and bare stairs in several houses and the bare stairs win every time (for me)! But putting in a low pile runner sounds smart, too. Regular plush carpeting is just so labor intensive. I actually like the runner that the blogger Emily A. Clark put on her stairs—it’s interesting, jazzy and seems to hide dirt as well for her family with five kids. Something similar for you to consider though in something else more your style, possibly.

    1. Oh, I’ll have to check out her runner. I’ve been looking around, but haven’t really nailed down what I want. I know the general look, though. I agree about the plush carpet and I am so over it! The treads aren’t too bad to clean, but it’s the edges and corners that are almost impossible!

  3. I’ll be keeping my eye out for this project’s progression! We have the exact same stair issues. Our carpet is ick with hair sticking to the edge constantly (plus my vacuum is too wide for each stair tread — in short, it’s a back breaker to clean)! My dilemma is that our wood flooring, like yours pictured, is only one one side of the staircase for a very short section and is also under the stair railing on that section. So I am afraid if I remove the carpet it will be subfloor with a little lip of flooring on one side only (that I couldn’t remove without tearing the railing out). Our trim also doesn’t extend across the step, but that is easier fixed than the little lip of flooring in my mind. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the impulsive urge to rip and tear that carpeting out, though. My good sense has so far kicked in and slowed me only because I don’t have a plan for the “what then?” part after (or the budget to just replace the entire stairway floor with hardwood). Looking forward to how you address this on your stairs!!

    1. Ha! It sounds like we’re in the exact same boat! I’ve said most of those very things as I’ve talked through what to do. I’ll try it first and let you know how it goes! 🙂

  4. I love the idea of doing a runner! The first inspiration photo you posted is gorgeous! Can’t wait to see how you and Jeff tackle it 🙂

  5. When I looked at the Dash & Albert rug, I said, “Yes!” out loud. That will look soo nice.
    Carpeted stairs are great for noise reduction and cushioning small children, toddlers and babies who crawl/fall on the stairs. If I had children over the age of 8 at home, I think their comfort on the stairs would have to take a back seat to my aching back…

    I know what it’s like to have “mom issues”. Both my parents are dead. My step-kids are indifferent towards me (hubs’ first wife died young). But, I have a great mom-in-law, step-mom, and plenty of older women friends. I went to church (where moms were given beautiful flowers), where I could love on everyone else’s kids; worked in my sunny garden, lazed around all afternoon, and re-heated leftovers for me and hubby. Called my moms and went to bed early. Had a great day!

    1. Yeah, I think if my boys were younger, I would just leave the steps alone, but they are 11 and almost 10 now, so I’m not as concerned with spills down the steps. Of course, that can happen at any age and even the carpet can be slippy in socks!

  6. Oh I do wish I had your energy and motivation! I love the runner material you’ve chosen, it’s going to look awesome in the foyer. Such a transformation, and I know you will love it.

  7. I love your idea! I’m sure it will look great. Here’s a tip for cleaning the stairs while you still have carpet – use a lightly dampened rag to wipe that corner where the riser meets the next step and all the dirt collects, then vacuum the collected lint/dust that wipes up from that corner. When I worked for a cleaning service that is how we did it and it worked great. Once you do it the first time, it will go faster.

  8. Do it! This was hands down my favorite diy we have done in our house.
    We found low grade treads and plywood under our similar carpet. We added trim to the front of the tread, caulked it to death and painted it with white enamel trim paint that has held up great. Then we pieced 3 16’ World Market jute runners , with black borders, to run up the center. A piece of carpet padding was placed on each tread for extra comfort as we don’t wear shoes in the house either. Easy install with a staple gun and a compressor.

    The original runners wore out after 6 years. You just can’t clean jute easily. The replacement faux sisal with black webbing trim looks pretty great and will likely wear better. Frankly, it is a close but not exact look to the natural fiber but we’re happy with it. So much cleaner and better looking!

    1. I ordered my runners from I have NO affiliation with them but was very happy with the pricing, delivery and quality.

    2. I’ve sort of wondered about using natural jute, knowing they would need to be replaced every few years. If they were cheap enough, that might be okay, but I’m hoping to find something that gives a nice, neutral look, but wears better. I still need to do more research. Thanks for sharing your experience with both materials!

  9. I had similar stairs in our last home. We had partial oak and assumed the same as you….negate tge wood was likely not finished underneath. What I didn’t expect is that the wood under the carpet was a very cheap pine. Paint is really the only thing you can do to hide the mismatch, so if you find the same thing, your plan should still work! Just be prepared with wood filler for all the pine knot holes. I know it will be beautiful when you are done!😊

    1. Yes, that’s what I’m expecting, so I agree that paint is the best option. I asked the company who did our hardwood floors about doing the steps and it would be very expensive and really not worth it. The runner will also help hide an inferior painted wood.

  10. We built our home 20+ years ago with the intention of staying here. With that in mind, no steps inside the house. Two from the front porch and one out to the patio from the sunroom. I’ve seen too many relatives and friends have to move from their houses, etc. because they got to the point where they couldn’t maneuver steps. I do think in your home, it will be a huge improvement to rip up that carpet! I will say that I am not a fan of carpet. At. all.

    1. I wouldn’t have any wall-to-wall carpet if it was just my choice, but since they guys all like it, I’m outnumbered! They don’t care enough about the steps to argue with me on that one, though! 🙂

  11. How is cleaning runners that much less effort than carpeting? Not trying to argue, just curious. It seems cleaning process is pretty much the same.

    1. A flat weave runner won’t pill or grab the fur and lint the way the plush carpet does. We had the flat weave on the steps in our last house and they were much easier to clean.

  12. Hi Marian! I was wondering, doesn’t your new carpet line include a runner option? I would love to see those blue and white prints on your stairs. But all your choices are lovely. A carpeting tip I’ve always found helpful is to use a mid-tone color that hides both the dark and light (lint, etc.) dirt. Clearly vacuuming is not my thing.

    1. Yes, it does, but they won’t be a continuous pattern that would be good on stairs, if that makes sense. Also, the materials wouldn’t be ideal. Nice thought, though!

  13. The carpet sample you show reminds me a lot like the one Rhoda
    Just had installed. It looks amazing! Her stairs are even similar to yours with the carpet off to one side and only partial stained wood underneath.
    I’ve had carpeted stairs an know exactly what you’re talking about with the fuzz and pet hair, vacuuming them was a chore. I can’t wait to see the after.
    I love your new home and all the projects you’ve done so far to make it your own.

  14. Do it, Marian! After having the carpeting changed twice in 38 years because it always looked dingy, I finally had enough of cleaning the dirt, dust and dog hairs off those stairs. I called a floor refinishing company and within a few days, I had a wonderful, clean, and ‘good forever’ staircase again.
    The stairs are so easy to keep clean- one swipe with a wet pater towel, and we are good to go.
    No more carpeting for us, ever 🙂

  15. I really relate to staging the equipment and supplies for several projects and all the while making plans for yet another. The order of work is reordered by opportunity buys of furniture or a need for a shelf before continuing or even a boost the the landscape. Or maybe the plan is not fully good yet and the parts stand here and there waiting for the confirming epiphany. I look forward to the progress we will show and the comfort we may feel by the one year anniversary of purchase, October 2018. Plenty of days weeks and months to show progress!

    1. Yes, exactly! I also like changing things up, so I don’t get bogged down in a tedious project (like painting trim).

  16. In my region stairs are not common, and if a home has stairs, they are generally very low grade material under the carpet….usually some type of particle board, not so great painted. Also, the tread may be a different length / shape to accommodate carpet. I hope yours will work as you plan. You may want to find a spot where you can peak under the carpet to look at the construction of the steps before going full speed ahead. Good luck! Love your blog!

    1. Good advice! I have peeked a little in one spot, but wasn’t able to see the edge. I will try to edge up a piece, so if it’ll be a big mess, I can put it back.

  17. I totally ripped out the carpet on my stairs and painted them white with a wide “comfort gray” center stripe and have NEVER regretted it… not ever. Can’t wait to see when yours are done!


  18. I know this is very different, but I painted my risers & put stick-on linoleum tiles on the treds to match the kitchen flooring. ✔️Sweeping & mopping!

  19. While that carpet you are thinking about is gorgeous, won’t you have the same problems eventually with it never looking clean, black dog hair showing etc? Just asking.

    1. The flat weave carpets clean much easier than a plush carpet. I think the one I showed as an example might be too light, though, so I’m still looking around for a good option that will wear well and not show too much dirt.

  20. I too had carpeted stairs in a previous home and hated them. My next house had beautiful pecan wood treads. Current house has no stairs and I’ll never have them again. I would absolutely get that carpet out, but I don’t get the idea of removing carpet and installing a runner…
    I realize a runner will be flatter than carpet and easier to clean but why not go all the way and make them painted wood which can be swept or wiped and are clean in a flash? Why commit to spending any of your future life servicing a rug on the stairs? There are so many more rewarding things to do with your time.

  21. I thank you for your acknowledgment of those of us for whom Mothers Day is not an occasion of celebration, but I would like to mention a category you missed: Those of us who served as the target for our mother’s abuse and torment because we were small and helpless and could do nothing either to improve our mother’s unhappiness or to escape her unending rage and abuse.

  22. I have this dilemma in our new house (yet to move in). I’m pretty sure the wood under the stairs is different than the exposed wood. My husband had an idea that I thought was good. Have a carpenter add accent borders and then insert replacement treads in between. Does that make sense? We have a wood border around the dining room and thought this might echo that treatment. I was not planning on adding any kind of carpet, and I will have A LOT of stairs. Could be a pricey idea, I’m sure.

  23. Last Saturday, I went on the Galveston Historical Homes tour with my daughter ( a Mother’s Day tradition for us). I’ve only missed 2 in over 40 years. Guess I’m old house obsessed! In two of the homes, they had brass dust buffers (my unoffical word for it) in each corner of every stair. They fit tightly in each corner and are also decorative. Makes stair cleaning much faster as dust has no corner to hide in. Have you seen these?

  24. We built this house 33 years ago with bare oak stairs. No problem with five kids etc. What I have is a collection of Dutch wooden shoes on each step, in various sizes and shapes against the inside wall. Also a pair of red
    ones by the front door. We don’t use that door. Why not opt for bare steps as I it would be easier to clean and the kids will be fine. We never had any major issue.

    1. That is a possibility, but a lot depends on what is under the carpet. If they look nice painted, without a runner, then we might leave them that way.

  25. We ripped out off white (who puts white carpet in a mountain house?) berber carpet on the stairs. Underneath was just plywood. We bought treads at Lowes, and stained and finished them ourselves. We researched a non-slippery matte/satin finish, but for the life of me, I cant remember what it was. We do warn guests about socks on the steps might be slippery! The main floor still has that stained, nasty carpet, but we are doing lots of renovation, and the floors (hardwood) will be the last to be installed. Can’t wait!

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