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Using a Vintage Rug as a Stair Runner

One interesting use of a vintage rug is as a stair runner. There are plenty of DIY examples online, but we recommend using a professional installer for the best possible outcome. You can, however, get started by shopping for your rug or rugs. 


vintage rug on stairs

Photo courtesy of Christin Burhans Terrell


The first step is to measure your space. Finding a rug to fit your exact measurements isn't necessary, but you will need to at least cover the length, it can be trimmed if it is too long. At Passerine, we offer custom sourcing and can find a rug to fit your specifications. If a single rug cannot be located, we may be able to find more than one to join together. Twin rugs (such as Camille, which is available in the shop now) are rare, but not impossible to find. If you are shopping on your own, here are a few things to keep in mind.


stairs with runner made from vintage rugs

Design and photo by Studio Life/Style in Architectural Digest


Type of rug: A low-pile rug with a hearty foundation is best suited to this application, where it will be subjected to quite a lot of wear. A Malayer or Heriz rug is ideal, because they are typically easy to clean and maintain, and their low pile means they trap and hold less dirt than their higher-pile counterparts.

Condition: The condition of vintage rugs will vary greatly from piece to piece, so good communication with a store owner is invaluable when sourcing a rug that will need to be in especially good shape. You’ll want a rug without excessive wear that has a strong foundation still in tact to be certain it will withstand the inherent high use as a stair runner.


Vintage stair runner

Design: Thomas O'brien Photo: Francesco Lagnese for Library House in Architectural Digest


Design by Megan Pflug | Photo by Marili Forastieri for One Kings Lane


If you aren’t able to find a single runner or a pair of twins, consider joining multiple rugs. Width is an important factor when joining rugs, but even that can be worked around (more on that later). Seek out rugs of the same type with a similar color palette or pattern, such as Penn and Howard, both Malayers made in the 1920s that feature greens, browns, and light blues. When choosing the place to join multiple rugs, a natural transition in your stairs such as a landing or turn is ideal, so keep this in mind when measuring and shopping.



You may choose to embrace a range of colors and styles and instead join several small scatter rugs to create one long, eclectic rug. All is not lost if you cannot find enough rugs of the same width, as many small rugs and runners are well-suiting to being trimmed. These rugs typically feature multiple borders, which can be trimmed on either side to maintain a symmetrical pattern. Brooke, shown above, is a wonderful example.

If I am custom-sourcing a rug for you, I can have it trimmed for your project prior to delivery. If you see something in the shop that you would like to have trimmed for this or any other reason, I can facilitate that work for an additional fee.


Design by Christine Lennon | Photo by One Kings Lane
The last thing to consider is a proper padding on each stair tread. Not only will this soften the feel of the rug underfoot, but it will extend the life of your rug by preventing the bits of dirt that reach the rugs foundation from creating friction between the rug and the stair surface. Any professional installer should be able to install adequate padding.
A stair runner made of vintage rugs is a lovely way to bring warmth and personality to an often-overlooked area of the home. I invite you to shop my ready-to-ship runners if you are considering one, and, as always, please reach out if I can help you source something truly unique.