The question: I love the look of sisal stair runners; they seem to dodge the grub factor of other light, neutral options over time. The problem is, they scratch the living daylights off the bottoms of my feet. Is there a softer choice?
The answer: No one wants a pedicure from their carpet, although I agree with you that a neutral stair runner blends in and imparts an unspoken elegance. The sisal tends to let the dirt fall through the weave as opposed to sitting on top so that it appears to stay clean. However, sisal can be slippery and can turn a stair runner into a stair slide. So for comfort, cleanliness and safety, a wool-blend sisal is a better option. You get the look without the slivers. Another option is to go commando on the staircase and throw out the carpet option, which gives you the opportunity to paint the treads a high-gloss black, similar to Chanel Noir nail polish!