No, nothing was wrong with the carpet runner on the stairs. Sure it was old and dirty, but I could have cleaned it. Its worst offense—it was ugly. Right off the Home Depot rack. Uninspired. Ordinary (I do not have time to be ordinary). Not really in keeping with my aesthetic for the house.
|This is what the previous owners put on the stairs. Sure it's better than the wall-to-wall light beige carpet that was there (threads of that carpet were still clinging to the stairs under this one.) but it's so uninspired and ordinary.|
Armed with ebay and a few evenings time, I started looking for replacement runners for both flights of stairs (the shorter, wider flight from the main floor to a landing, then the longer, narrower flight continuing up to the second floor.) I was not about to buy something off a huge roll at a big box store.
I carefully measured a tread and riser, did a little math, and figured the length of the runners needed.
What I discovered online were myriad amazing, colorful, rich and affordable rugs—I felt like a sultan as I imagined myself wrapped in these gorgeous colors, patterns and textures. I dreamed of myself in Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Léon Gérôme paintings. I started looking for rugs for other rooms .... ok, back to the task.
Finally, as with most of my fantastical dreams, reality dumped on me. I forgot to measure the width of the stairs. where in the hell was I going to find a 2 x 16 foot runner? This proved to be pretty disheartening since 100% of the rugs I loved were a few inches too wide.
I became a little obsessive, but determined. A few long rugs started showing up that suited the super-narrow width of the second flight of stairs—a rug for that flight proved to be the more difficult task. As runners get longer, they tend to get wider, too, but more beautiful. Wider rugs offered more visual space for complex patterns and color relationships.
I carried on.
Finally, I found 2 rugs that would fit and were reasonably related to one another visually. One is antique, the other new. Both are woven in north west Iran (the BEST, most beautiful rugs are from Iran ...). The antique Heriz I chose will go on the lower flight. The new Karajeh is installed on the upper flight. We saved the old rug because both of these runners are so beautiful that if ever we move, we're putting them back on—these 2 runners are coming with us.
During my online search I discovered many informational websites helping me better understand the rugs of Iran's patterns, colors, textures and traditions. I am severely novice and hope to continue learning more about this fascinating art.
|Tearing off the old runner took all of 5 minutes. Picking out all of the remaining staples took 2 hours. The tread padding was in good condition and the tack strips were good, so I kept those to reuse for the new runner.|
|The stairs were filthy. I vacuumed, washed and finally recoated them with shellac. The red scratchy looking paint above the baseboard will be covered with Lincrusta and finished to look like carved wood, so no worries there.|
After removing the old rug and cleaning the stairs, existing rug pads and tack strips (both in good shape so I reused them), I quickly recoated stairs and baseboard with shellac. Best time to do that kind of stuff is when nothing is in the way—start fresh and clean. Ya know?
Next came getting the runner positioned. It is about 12 inches longer than needed. Following both Nineteenth Century and current recommendations, I folded under the excess at the end in the event I need to reposition the rug later—exposing fresh pile. I loosely placed the rug on the stairs, adjusted it so the edges were reasonably straight along the wall and spindles, and began fitting it into the angles and smoothing it out by hand.
Finally, once I had it in place and looking pretty good (adjusting the rug up and down to get some of the medallions placed strategically, I began pushing it onto the tack strips. I added a few staples to each stair—mostly in the intersection of the tread and riser to hold it in place. A quick vacuum and voila - new gorgeous stairs.
|Overall after photo of the Karajah rug in place|