Beautiful hardwood looks best when you can see it and for that reason stairs look wonderful when left bare. The shine of newly polished wood stairs in any color from a light maple to a dark ebony looks striking and elegant. Bare hardwood floors may not be the best option, however, if you have children or pets. Little feet and paws can slip on hardwood and without a buffer, it can be a rather uncomfortable fall.
If you don’t want the chore of vacuuming a carpeted stair runner but love the contrast of color against the wood, then a painted stairway is a good option. The wear and tear in the middle of the stairs where there is the most traffic just adds a shabby, casual touch, however the paint can also be touched up easily. This can be an advantage over a carpet runner where the entire runner must be replaced. Look for a floor paint which will be the most durable and the least slippery.
Tiled stairs are an exotic, free spirited look that can look at home in a house with bohemian design or one with much more traditional design if the color palettes complement each other.
Stair runners are most often seen in family homes because not only do they add a bit of color and texture to the stairs, but they protect the hardwood from constant wear. A runner provides a bit of traction to prevent falls and buffer anything that is dropped. Try a sisal or small scale pattern with a border for a stylish yet family friendly look. Stripes or growing patterns play off stairs and elongate the stairwell.
Consider the look of your home and your family’s needs in deciding whether to cover the stairs or bare the hardwood. As seen in the images above, both looks can be stylish and sophisticated or homey and casual. Choose what works best for your household.