Design Tips, News and Press Releases

Before & After Transformation: Sisal Stair Runner

When designing any space, it’s easy to focus on the larger elements of the design like the layout and main furniture pieces, while losing track of all the small details that really complete a design. Without attention given to the details, a design will end up looking amateur and incomplete. In today’s before and after transformation, we’ll be showing you how one seemingly insignificant detail can really change an entire design’s aesthetic and functionality.

The Space

As you may know, if you’ve been following our blogs, I’ve done quite a bit of work recently on remodeling a beautiful house in Great Falls, Virginia. We redid their entrance, dining room, home office and lighting throughout the house, and more. We have also done quite a lot of work on their living room, which leads to a beautiful winding staircase. As we completed smaller sections of the house, we knew that we could give attention to the elements that connect each space, this stairwell being a prime example.

The Before

The original design had a very fluffy beige stair runner on these gorgeous steps. The fluffiness of the carpet didn’t match the chic aesthetic of the rest of the house. The stairs stood out – not in the way you want them to. They looked quite dated against the lovely black marble floors and created too much contrast against the wooden stairs. When looking at the design, you might not initially realize how much of an eyesore this stair runner actually was – it was a relatively small detail compared to the entirety of the house, and the tone of the carpet wasn’t completely off. However, I knew that we could complement the stain of the wood better, in a way that would ultimately be more beautiful and more functional.

The Why

There are a number of reasons why I think sisal is the best material for stair runners – stairs get so much foot traffic, that a carpet like the one originally there would get worn out quickly and end up looking dirty. Sisal on the other hand is incredibly durable and holds up well through time. Additionally, sisal has a better grip which will make the stairs easier and safer to use – especially for those who are at risk of falling and getting seriously injured. But beyond practicality, a huge design trend at the moment is bringing nature inside. There is something so beautiful using a natural material like sisal in such a modern house – it grounds the design and offers something different for the eye to land upon. It’s no surprise then that as soon as I saw this stairwell, I knew that a sisal stair runner would be the right choice.

The After

We opted for a runner that had a lovely two-toned pattern with a thicker binding on either side in a lighter color. The binding on the sisal provides a lovely contrast to the darker wood, and the light pattern keeps the look interesting. However, all the tones in the sisal are much closer to the tones of the wood, in comparison to the original carpet. Making the contrast more subtle means the eye can enjoy the winding structure of the stairs more and appreciate the contrast already provided between the neutral walls/trim and the wooden stairs. 

The Takeaway

I am so happy with how this transformation ended up, and more importantly, my client was happy. Take a look at the before and after photos and see the massive difference it made! The sisal looks far more intentional and thought-out. Design is like any other art: each detail matters and deserves equal attention to the rest of the work. If you are designing a home and think you may be missing out on important details, let us help you! Head to our services page to book your free consultation today!

Repurposing Slip Covers in Virginia

At Kelley Astore Interiors we believe and are working towards, making interior design more sustainable. It’s a difficult balance to strike: on one hand, you want to be mindful and avoid excess waste, but on the other hand, you want each design to be perfect in your eyes and in your clients’ eyes. But humans make mistakes and change their minds – and that’s where we have to get creative and consider repurposing. Recently we upholstered two down-filled custom-made chairs and one ottoman for a client in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. They were originally covered in mauve fabric with a black floral design. I actually really liked this fabric on the chairs. However after they were made, and placed in the sitting room, we realized that the fabric was not the right choice for the design.

The rest of the room was a very neutral color palette, featuring a lot of earthy and beige tones. The walls were painted in a beautiful Farrow & Ball shade called Oxford Stone 264, which is a lovely sandy color. Against the walls and the rest of the decor, we found that the original fabric was a bit old-fashioned and stuck out in a way that we didn’t want them to. After speaking with my client, we agreed that the room wanted a more subdued and lighter fabric than what was originally chosen. Something that would compliment and blend into the rest of the design rather than becoming an eyesore. But we had already upholstered them – did this mean we would need to start over and reupholster all of it? That would take a lot of time and money…but more importantly, it would result in a lot of extra waste we didn’t need to produce. What else could we do?

The Solution

This is when I realized a simple, quick, and easy solution: instead of starting over and re-doing the entire project, we could have slipcovers made! So that’s exactly what we did. This meant that we could completely transform the way the chairs and ottoman looked without wasting unnecessary time, effort, and materials. Together we browsed through a variety of different fabrics and settled on a gray/black and off-white ticking stripe patterned fabric from Pindler (my favorite place to source fabrics!) We were able to bring samples of this fabric into the space, and we knew that it was perfect.

My workroom ladies got busy stitching the slipcovers, and they were done in no time. Afterward, we installed them over the original cushions. After a quick steam, the chairs and ottoman were completely transformed. Looking at them, you would never be able to tell that slip covers were being used. My client absolutely loved the modern edge of the striped fabric. To add color and balance back into the design, we paired them with lovely little red cushions. I think the chairs and the room look absolutely fantastic. My client was happy, and the best part of all was that very little waste was created in the process! I will definitely continue using this trick in the future.

Try it yourself!

If you love all things design and fabric, be sure to check out our latest article on our 2021 Autumn Color Palette featuring plenty of fabrics from Pindler. To pass the time this fall, why not learn how to make your own slipcovers to easily transform a furniture piece you already own? This trick really does open up so many opportunities, and I couldn’t be happier. 

Five Ways to Prep Your Home For the Fall & Winter

As we leave August behind and get into the full swing of September, it’s clear that summer is coming to an end. While some might not be too thrilled for the colder months ahead, there is so much to look forward to – from Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas – to rich fall colors and cozy sweaters. And now is the time to begin preparing your home for the rest of the year to come. Keep reading for our top five ways to prep your home for the coming Fall and Winter!

Don’t Wait – Get the Big Jobs Done Now

If there are any larger-scale renovation jobs you’ve been planning but haven’t got around to – this is your sign to bite the bullet and get them done now! Especially if you’re a person who doesn’t like the winter, it will be easier and less stressful to organize it now. Not only that, but having lovely new spaces to spend the Fall and Winter will simply make them easier to get through. Think of it as an early Christmas present to yourself and your family!

It’s a fantastic time of year to begin experimenting with different colors and patterns to ensure that your home is as cozy and welcoming as it can be for yourself and all your guests. Check out our recent article on different Fall Paints and Fabrics for some quick inspiration!

Tend To Your Garden

Now is really the best time to prepare your garden/yard for autumn and winter – while it’s not too hot and not too cold. If your garden or yard mostly consists of summer foliage, why not get some winter plants in the ground? I highly recommend Holly – not just because it’ll look beautiful in your yard, but it makes for fantastic fresh greens arrangements in the winter. It also provides a lovely pop of color in those colder winter months.

If you don’t want to plant anything new, then now is the time to get your gardening gloves on and prune the bushes, cut the grass, get rid of all your weeds and dead plants, and work to prepare and protect the soil in the winter. The winter can quickly erode your soil and damage it. Lay mulch around any plants that are staying for the winter – a biodegradable and aesthetically pleasing way to cover and protect the soil. Alternatively, you can use a tarp or cloth to cover and protect exposed and empty soil, ensuring that your garden is fertile and ready for the spring planting season.

TIP: Did you know that you can plant garlic in the Autumn, where it will be ready to harvest the following summer? Plant in October – January to have it ready for May – July. 

Remember the Exterior

Once again, take advantage of the weather that this time of year brings – it’s the perfect time to tackle all the jobs you’ve been avoiding on the exterior of your house. Whether that be a new paint job, new windows, or simply clearing out the gutters, right now is the best weather to get it done. In a few weeks’ time, there’s a good chance the cold will make these jobs unpleasant. 

Having a shiny exterior to your house will last throughout the winter. I always think the exterior of a house is often the part that is least thought about – which is exactly the reason why having a beautiful exterior will truly wow any guests that come to visit. If you are wanting to vamp up the exterior of your house but aren’t quite ready for a new paint job, consider power-washing it instead. This is both extremely satisfying to do, and will leave your house looking brand new!

Small Changes Make Big Differences

In terms of actually getting your house holiday ready, now is the time to begin switching up your decor and adding little fall and winter touches. There are countless small changes to be made that will make a huge difference and have your home be cozy and ready for each holiday to come. Start by switching out throw pillows for more Autumn colors. Switch out knick-knacks for Fall-themed items such as mini pumpkins or potpourri and pinecones. Change the bedding in your house to reflect the season: heavier blankets and quilts with deeper colors will help a room seem cozier and warmer. 

You can’t forget about candles! Candles are one of the best ways to create that autumn/winter atmosphere – not just because they are peaceful to look at, but because of the amazing array of spicy and warm scents that this season brings! Head to the store to grab a few and begin lighting them to get you in that Autumn mood!

Prepare for the Cold

Our last tip is perhaps the most practical tip and one you will certainly thank yourself for. Now is the time to prepare your house for the coming cold months. Even if it’s still relatively warm outside, choose a day to test your heating to ensure that it works. This way you won’t encounter any unpleasant surprises when you really do need the heating to stay warm. This is also a great time to rest your fireplace, and do any maintenance that is needed.

If you live in a particularly cold area, you may be keen to further insulate with window coverings – whether you want to install these yourself or hire a professional, now is the best time to plan when and how that will happen. Additionally, now is a great time to start switching your wardrobe around – pull out those big sweaters and jeans so they’re ready for when you need them.

We’re Here to Help

Of course, this list is helpful, but we also know that these tasks are often easier said than done – especially if you’re a busy professional or your kids are busy with the back-to-school season. That’s why we’re here – to help take the load off your back! Head to our services page to see how we can help you prepare your home for the fall and winter. 

Kelley Astore Interiors

Expert Interior Design & Renovation Services of Every Style.

Where We Work

Northern Virginia, Washington, DC,
and the Greater Washington Area


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