Stairway carpet ideas - step things up with colour, pattern and neutral styles

Introduce calm and comfort to your home with a stair carpet

geometric stair carpet
(Image credit: Future / Colin Poole)

It's worth considering stairway carpet ideas if you want to add calm and comfort to your home. Soft underfoot, carpet provides a warm welcome and reduces the impact of heavy footsteps going up and down the stairs. It may even help to reduce your energy bills.

It's not just about the practicalities though, choosing the right carpet to go with your stair ideas will set the tone to your home, as you and others enter.

'These carpets have to be durable, practical – and beautiful,' says Rupert Anton, at The Carpet Foundation. 'Plain carpets give more room for flexibility elsewhere in the decorating scheme while patterned carpets provide more colour options matching various elements of the design with wallpaper, paints and curtains.'

Stairway carpet ideas

‘Think about your lifestyle and how much wear your carpet will receive,’ says Rupert Anton, The Carpet Foundation. ‘Then think about longevity. Are you looking to stay in your home for a long time or not? What's most important to you? Durability, colour and design or budget?'

1. Welcome guests with a cheerful colour combo

Roger Oates multi-colour Kyoto runner

(Image credit: Roger Oates)

A colourful flatweave stair runner idea set against a dark stone or timber floor will instantly add stand out style to your stairway. 

This striped flatweave runner from Roger Oates is crafted with a British cheviot wool blend that’s spun and dyed in Yorkshire, using traditional techniques.

Choose a joyful colour combination to offer a cheerful welcome to everyone that crosses the threshold.

2. Make an impact with monochrome

black stairway carpet

(Image credit: Future / Colin Poole)

Mixing black and white is a failsafe way to make an impact with your stair decorating ideas. So laying a black carpet runner on a white-painted staircase in a white hallway will create a dramatic entrance to your home. 

‘Staircases are probably the most heavily used areas, particularly in a busy, family home so a hard-wearing carpet is essential,’ says Rupert Anton, at The Carpet Foundation. ‘For busy areas like the stair, I would suggest an 80% wool composition; certainly 50% wool at the least. Remember as well as being soft underfoot, carpet insulates against noise.’

3. Pick a smart pattern for an elegant entrance

geometric stair runner

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

If bright or bold colour is not your bag, go for a carpet with a graphic pattern instead. Give it more gravitas with a smart border and traditional stair rods. 

‘A stair runner may once have been seen as a more budget option,’ says Rupert Anton at The Carpet Foundation. ‘Once a covering that could be laid in a strip and secured in place with stair rods, it was a practical solution and less expensive to fit. 

'However, carpets have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and with new technology and exciting developments like being able to add your own creative flair, the traditional stair runner is now a hugely popular contemporary trend.’

4. Add style with a big border

hallway with stair runner

(Image credit: Future / Malcolm Menzies)

Choosing a carpet or a sisal in a neutral tone is a sound investment for the long term. As you'll generally have a little more freedom with your decor.  A strong colour on the floor means your walls will need to coordinate with it, which could be limiting. 

It's often easier to introduce other colours against a neutral foundation. Instead of using bright shades, add interest to a runner with a big border in a natural hue.

5. Go wall to wall for softness

hallway with colourful stair panels

(Image credit: Future / Colin Poole)

While a stair runner offer modern style, but don't rule out wall-to-wall carpet on the stairs altogether. If you have hard floors, such as timber, tiles or stone elsewhere, stair carpet adds softness and comfort to your space. 

Natural materials such as wool also have sound-absorbing qualities, which is often welcome in open-plan living.

Choose a carpet colour that will work with your hallway flooring and landing ideas. 'In terms of colour, pale, neutral shades will brighten up narrow spaces while lighter shades also create the illusion of a wider staircase,' says Rupert Anton at The Carpet Foundation.

‘And always buy new underlay, it improves a carpet’s performance and life, and ensures it sits properly and wears evenly.’

6. Make a statement with stripes

Roger Oates Masai stair runner

(Image credit: Roger Oates)

A bright striped stair carpet is a bold and dramatic way to introduce colour. Consider your choice carefully and ensure the colours are those you can live with. 

Flooring is likely to have the longest life span in an interior, so it’s important to get this right and to invest in quality. Remember it’s quicker, easier and less expensive or wasteful to refresh walls than recover floors. 

'To get the best out of your carpet ensure that it is installed by an experienced Flatweave fitter and vacuumed on a regular basis using a suction vacuum cleaner,' says Jane Armstrong at Roger Oates Design. 'A skilled fitter will also be able to install a flatweave runner on a winding staircase whilst still matching the pattern in the crutch of the step.'

7. Choose honey toned plant fibres

stair runner with blue border

(Image credit: Future / David Merewether)

Sisal looks gorgeous on a stairway and comes in a variety of warm earthy tones. It's made from a hardy, fast-growing plant from the Agave family with little pesticide used in its production. It’s also naturally moth-resistant and contains tannins, which repel dust mites. 

If you’re undecided whether to go for the modern styles of sisal or the traditional comfort of wool, consider a mix of the two with a carpet made of sisool.

8. Continue a bold design onto the landing

landing with striped carpet

(Image credit: Future / Colin Poole)

A stair carpet in a bold stripe looks heavenly. So why not take things a step further and continue the eye-catching design along the landing? 

'Bold, rich colours can be attention-grabbing and transform a standard staircase and landing into a statement area,' says Rupert Anton at The Carpet Foundation. 

'Stripes can also serve to change the appearance of a room’s natural dimensions. For example, narrow stripes appear to lengthen a room while wider stripes can open up a space.'

9. Opt for an oatmeal hue

hallway with neutral carpet

(Image credit: Future / Katie Lee)

Choose natural oatmeal hues or carpet made with undyed wool for a low maintenance option.  

'The carpets which disguise dust or specks of dirt well are those with a fleck to them,' says Jodie Hatton at Brintons. The natural colours of sheep’s fleece creates a subtle fleck. So we have collections that celebrate the subtle, flecked colours of the natural wool. 

'Wool provides comfort underfoot whilst insulating your home and helping to reduce energy costs. It absorbs sound to give a sense of calm and tranquillity and is naturally fire resistant too. 

'Additionally a wool carpet has the benefit of a protective natural waxy coating on wool fibres which make wool products resistant to staining. A wool carpet will also pick up less dust as wool is naturally anti-static.'

10. Finish with a thin trim

geometric stair carpet

(Image credit: Future / James French)

It's the finer details in a design scheme that add finesse, so choose a smart trim to finish your stair carpet or runner with. This seemingly minor detail will give your stairway an elegant finishing touch.  

Choose the darkest colour in the carpet for the trim and repeat it elsewhere for more impact.

What carpet is best for stairs?

'A good quality wool carpet or a wool blend carpet is ideal for stairs as they are hard-wearing and long lasting thanks to wool’s ability to bounce back,' says Jodie Hatton, design manager at Brintons.

'When subject to heavy foot fall you need a product which isn’t going to flatten and wear in the places most trodden. A wool carpet will also provide some amount of grip on stairs which is a good safety feature.'

'British wool is the bulkiest wool in the world which makes it particularly good for carpets. It is the ideal material for carpet because it has a spring to it which makes it resistant to flattening over time. Wool has the ability to bounce back so your carpet will be much longer lasting. It is also inherently hypo-allergenic and stain resistant.'

Do I need special carpet for stairs?

Flat weave runners are a good choice for stairs, as are twist pile carpets. 'Twist pile has a coarse rugged, bobbly look and can be used anywhere in the home, it's the most popular type of carpet,' says Rupert Anton at The Carpet Foundation. 

'I would not recommend loop pile carpets on stairs – particularly if you have animals,' 'Their claws can get stuck on a tuft and unravel it.'


Jacky Parker is a freelance interiors & lifestyle journalist, specialising in modern interiors, design and eco living. She has written for Future’s interior magazines and websites including Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home for over fifteen years, both as a freelance contributor and inhouse, with stints as Acting Digital Editor, Livingetc and Acting Style Content Editor, Country Homes & Interiors. Her work also features in national and international publications including Sunday Times Style, Telegraph Stella, The Guardian, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and more. With years of experience in the industry Jacky is privy to the insider view and the go-to places for interior inspiration and design-savvy décor.