Carpet runner for the oak stairs — and Astro

Just so’s you know, there are those days where I sacrifice aesthetics for: functionality. Six or seven years ago we pulled the aged blue plush carpet off the stairs to the basement and had the stairs refinished. Oh, the gleaming oak treads were sooooo pretty. We use the basement every day — our TV and two offices are down there, so this is heavily used staircase. Ummm, I only just about killed myself slipping on the oak three or four times a year, but it was my calculated risk in the name of beauty. Then enter: Astro the retro wonder dog. Little mister only had to slip-slide down the the stairs twice before we realized this situation would no longer work. We started carrying Astro up and down the stairs, and I went looking for carpet.

The next Saturday I went to the local carpet store. I wanted something: durable, inexpensive, and neutral-ish in a way that would connect the original cork flooring in the foyer upstairs and the gold plush carpet in the basement. Oh, and I didn’t want it to show the dirt. I wandered around until I found myself in the commercial carpet section. There were a gazillion books and boards, so I asked the nice sales woman for help. I gave her my “want” list. She handed me a little binder with about 16 designs – I thought one of the colorways looked like it would work. I took the binder home. A different colorway — now installed as shown — turned out to be better. Dave the carpet guy came to measure, gave me the price, and I ordered.

Honestly, I have not made a design decision this fast EVER. I could have tortured myself and gone back to the store and looked at 46 million more samples. But, I didn’t have the time. And I guess I knew from all my experience, that this commercial berber-y looking whatever would be FINE.

The only thing I changed my mind on, was that I originally thought I would carpet all the way across the stairs, rather than have a runner. That’s because Astro likes to walk up and down the stairs hugging the wall. So, that’s what I originally ordered. But when I told my husband that night, he suggested a runner instead, because he thought it would be nice to see some of the wood. When I told him not too much wood could show because Astro would still slip on the side, he got all grouchy and started murmuring about how he hated carpet on stairs and never mind expletive deleted. In any case, he had planted a seed (my husband has very good design sensibilities) so I slept on the question. The next morning I called the carpet store, and there was still time to make the change. I was literally on the phone with Dave the carpet guy asking how wide we should make the runner. My stairs are 42″ wide… I just wanted a few inches of wood to show… I slapped down a yardstick, centered it, and it looked fine… so we made the runner 36″. What color did I want the binding, Dave asked. I said: Make it match, like, neutral, surprise me. Can you believe I said that???? It’s beige. It looks fine. The runner was installed yesterday. I had John, the carpet installer, wrapped it tight around the tread, the bull-nosey part that sticks out — but we kept the trim under the tread. If you pull that out, there likely is not stain underneath.

I can’t say I love the carpet runner. But, it looks FINE. And Astro, he’s scurrying up and down on his own again. I even feel safer.  Sometimes: You just gotta make your choices quickly — and get on with your life.


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  1. Cindy says

    Looks like a good decision. Having the oak show on the sides is nice…I’m impressed that DH likes to be involved in design decisions…. takes some of the pressure off. He’ll get used to the runner in no time….just wait til he tells you you were right all along! 🙂

  2. says

    How is the carpet attached to the stairs? that’s the real downside of carpet, is the nails or glue. Well, and the outgassing of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde. It’s for the latter reason that I’d stay away from it in the future, not just for the first year in my house, when it’s poisonous, but for the nastiness of the manufacture.

    There aren’t a lot of solutions for slippery wood stairs, though. The nicest solution I’ve seen is the antique rug, held in place by those cool metal bars. It’s more Victorian than Mod, though, hmm?

    • pam kueber says

      @kate, it’s held in place with a million staples. I agree with you that I would have preferred something vintage. I’ll keep my eye out for a future update, but for now, I needed to get those stairs safe for the dog.

  3. says

    A tip to make a dog feel more confident on wood floors is to trim their nails short and clip the hair between the pads of the feet. The fleshy pads aid in traction. Suburban dogs lead an easy life and these don’t wear down as they would in nature, or like city dogs walking on abrasive hard surfaces.

    • pam kueber says

      thanks for the tip, @bungalowbill. of course, i’m a-scared of trimming his nails, what with that possibility of hitting the quick and launching a mini-bloodbath. i’ll do it, though.

  4. Annie B. says

    The things we do for our animals! Good for you, Pam. The stairs look just fine and perfectly retro. Lovely stairs with or without the carpeting.

    The sacrifice we’re presently making on behalf of an animal is delaying the installation of new flooring until Zelda, the 17-year old Olympic champion hurler, departs for kitty heaven. I’d much rather enjoy Zelda for now.

  5. says

    Hey Baby! It looks good! and this will definitely help with building self-confidence…in the boy, not you! LOL Although, you won’t have to worry about falling down on your keister either! I like that DH chimed in on showing some wood, it enhances it. Astro will get used to not hugging so closely, especially now when he realizes he won’t be tumbling down the stairs.

    As far as trimming nails go….I’m with you and have a slow process way of doing it that my vet taught me long ago. I’m not big on the rapid cut technique due to past (dog yelping) experience. If you take him to the vet (if it’s convenient) they’ll do it for you for about $10-15 or if you get him groomed every 6 weeks, it gets done then. Once he gets happy about walking more, the pavement will help keep them shorter. Even when short, they are never really short enough to keep from hitting the floor, in my experience, because their pads aren’t thick enough to lift the nail off the ground. In bigger dogs this is often not the case.

    Welcome back, hope your settling back into your groove.

  6. says

    There is a product called quik stop that you should have if you clip the nails yourself. It’s a powder that stops the bleeding immediately. There are also nail clippers with guards that will only let you remove a tiny bit at a time, which reduces your risk. Clipping right after a bath is good since the nail is softened and easier to trim. Terriers notoriously don’t like their feet touched, so an easier out is to have your groomer or vet to do it, and check to make sure that they have once you pick him up. Trimming the hair between the pads is the easiest and will give him the most benefit.

  7. Terri says

    I recently removed 40 years of indoor/outdoor carpeting on our basement steps. Several weekends lost, scraped glue and paint – and once again, I had picked out paint that matched the original colors in the house!!! We too had to do the commercial runner – two small kids and a pool. Wet feet don’t mix well with beautiful, slick wooden stairs!

    Your project looks great!!

  8. says

    I absolutely loved your story! I think you did the absolutely right thing and your quick selection is perfect. Part of “Loving the house you’re in” is functioning in that house. As much as we want our homes to be picture perfect (and no one is more guilty of that than me), we do have to spend a LOT of time in them, so let’s make them comfortable for everyone – our pets included. Pam, thanks for the reminder that it’s not always just about “for show.” Welcome back!

  9. RetroSandie says

    It looks very nice, Pam. The color, carpet design, and wood showing. And MUCH safer for all of you. A fall down the stairs can be a nasty experience so I think you chose wisely!

  10. MrsErinD says

    Yes the oak stairs are gorgeous, but I really like the carpet too, it’s pretty and I like the texture/color mix, and most importantly it’s safe for you all, you’re right, sometimes we do have to make those sacrifices but it’s worth it for the fuzzballs (and us!)
    I like how you see a little wood too, that looks cool, and sweet little Astro can still run no problem!
    Love the action shot of Astro, so cute! He is so sweet I just squeal when I see him! :O)

  11. says

    Your choice of carpet and placement are great! We had to have NO carpet when our 16-year-old hound mutt who “departed” last November started to develop incontinence issues – yep, it’s amazing what we do for our pets. But, as far as the nail clipping goes, we started just having the vet do it years ago – when we both had to hold him down and tie him to the door handle to in order to trim his nails, and it still took an incredibly long time, we made the decision to let the vet handle it. He was such a frightened wimp when it came to nail clipping – so much so that when I got out my teeny-tiny clippers to do my own nails, he would run off and disappear! He’ll be missed!

  12. Diana of Mt. Lebanon, PA says

    Astro is adorable. I love the shot of him hugging the wall as he bolts down the stairs. He He.

    We tried to clip our dog’s nails when she was a pup, and we cut into the quick. There was blood everywhere and we were so traumatized (Boo, our pup, seemed to handle it ok). After that experience, we switched to using a dremel tool that sort of sands down her nails much like an emory board. It works so well, and we’ve been using it for over three years now, without ever cutting into her quick again. Another tip: trim the nails every couple weeks and only take off a little at a time to make sure you don’t cut into the quick.

  13. says

    Diana is right. Cut Astro’s nails every week and you will be able to cut them shorter. The quick recedes when the nails are shorter. My sister is a dog groomer, so I have some inside info. :0)

    I love the carpet and the width you had it cut.

  14. tiki.torch says

    This is one of your best stories. You made a perfect choice – the safety and happiness of your new friend, plus I think the stairs look better now. I love reading about Astro and think he’s just gorgeous. Keep smiling.

  15. Suzanne says

    I’m sorry that you had to give up the look of your beautiful stairs, but I am very happy that you care for Astro enough to make that sacrifice for him. That is the best part of the story. 🙂

  16. genjenn says

    I won’t have carpet anywhere in my house because of the pets. But then, I don’t have stairs, either Astro sure is a lucky boy. You sure are a good doggy mom.
    As for the nail trimming, I say leave it to the groomer. Even though I was a vet tech for many years, I refuse to trim my dog’s nails. Instead, Sol and I take a happy trip to Pet Co where he gets his nails trimmed for $5 (or free) plus a squeaky toy of his choice for being such a good boy.

  17. Alice says

    You made a nice choice Pam. Your home has to be liveable for your entire family, of which Astro is a part. I think the pretty wood of your stairs peeking out from the carpet is a nice looking and gives hint to the care you have given your home.

  18. Fiona - Notorious Kitsch says

    It looks good nonetheless! We also have to sometimes substitute design desicions for practicality as my husband is disabled so polished stairs would NOT work. We also have to have two rails on both side of the stairs so help him up and down.

    Design is important but living safely for people and animals is important too! Some compromise doesn’t harm!

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