Carpet runners have been cushioning footsteps while adding color and pattern to bare wood treads for centuries. And when paired with traditional metal rods that help secure the runner in place, they're an instant classic. Installing a runner on a straight staircase is a relatively easy DIY project, if you follow the waterfall method. In this case, the narrow strip of carpeting simply spills from step to step, as shown at right. You need only to secure the runner at the seam where the stair riser meets the tread, as opposed to also tightly wrapping and securing the runner around the tread's nosing. (Watch a how-to video for installing a runner using the waterfall method at thisoldhouse.com/bonus.) As the finishing touch, add the metal runner rods, centering each over the runner and securing the end brackets to the tread and riser with the screws provided.
$275 to $400, depending on the rug and the number of steps. Stair runners in a variety of colors and patterns, from $7 per foot; Dura Grip Premium precut tread pads, $69 for 13; and Inspiration Collection by Zoroufy metal-alloy runner rods in different length, finish, and finial options, from $11 each; all at paylessrugs.com