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.

  1. 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)

  2. 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!

  3. Janice 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!

  4. 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!!

  5. BungalowBILL 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.

  6. densie 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.

  7. 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.

  8. BungalowBILL 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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?

    1. 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.

  10. 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! 🙂

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