We Carpeted a Staircase for £20: A Case Study

Renewing carpet during a home renovation can be an expensive affair, not only for the householders pocket but also for the planet. But a combination of being careful with money and a sense of ecological responsibility resulted in a great solution to a problem stair carpet in one couple’s home.

Once more we visited the Arkwrights* in their rented 16th century cottage in an Oxfordshire market town where their latest renovation project was to replace the stair carpet.

Essential Carpet Renewal

“Being an old house, having good carpet on the stairs is crucial to avoiding accidents,” explained wife Janet “my husband and daughter have both had nasty falls because the stair steps are all different heights and widths. It’s not helped by having threadbare carpet with holes that you can catch your feet in.”

This time the Arkwrights didn’t even bother asking the landlords if they would replace it, they just did it themselves. Their approach is to spend as little as possible, since it’s not their house. “We don’t mind spending time,” said husband John, “but it makes no sense to invest our money in someone else’s house.”

Local Networking Delivers

Although they often get materials for renovation from freecycle, the Internet email group, on this occasion it was local networking that did the job.

“I was at a business breakfast meeting,” John explained, “and someone on my table was complaining about the constant din from the house renovation going on next door. He then said that he hoped it was coming to an end at last as he’d seen rolls of carpet going in the day before.”

Quick as a flash John was round to see the neighbours, who he knew by sight at least, and offered to take away any offcuts. They thought it was a bit odd but once John explained their situation they understood.

Variety of Offcuts

“I offered to take it all away,” John said, “so I ended up with about eight sizeable offcuts folded up and three bin bags of much smaller bits. The really tiny bits ended up as landfill, unfortunately, as I couldn’t think of a use for them, but many of the smaller offcuts were used to protect the landlord’s furniture which is all stacked up in the cellar.

“That left us with the larger chunks,” John continued, “and then we came to the dilemma. I had intended tacking the carpet to the stairs myself, but one of previous tenants was a carpet fitter so I asked him to take a look. He quoted £20 which I thought was cheap enough because it would have taken me hours to do and would have looked rubbish.”

Using a Professional Pays Dividends

In the end it took the fitter and hour and a half and he wouldn’t take more than twenty pounds. “He did such a good, quick job that we wanted to give him more but he wouldn’t take it,” said Janet, “it’s a neutral oatmeal colour, it looks great and there’s no holes.”

Presumably the landlords were happy? John pulled a face. “Well, when I showed it to them the response was ‘oh, more to your taste then?’ No appreciation of the awful condition of the carpet we’d replaced. I was pretty annoyed, I can tell you,” he added.

Full Circle Ecological Awareness

The old carpet, did that end up in landfill? “No,” said John, “I’ve kept that and I’ll be using it to insulate the shed that’s going up in the garden soon.” It’s not just money that’s the motivator but ecological ethics too, obviously.”

* names have been changed