Over recent years, carpet has fallen out of fashion a little in the home in favour of wood, stone and ceramic surfaces. But I still believe it has a valid place in the home as a good hard-wearing, practical flooring solution. There is nothing like the warmth, comfort and style of a well-chosen, beautiful carpet, and I think it has a place in most rooms of the house apart from probably the kitchen and bathroom! Another great quality of carpet is its sound absorbing ability, think of all those open plan living spaces you have been in with all those hard surfaces bouncing noise all over the place, not very conducive to peace and relaxation. I also find hard surfaces do not absorb dirt and can look quite messy and untidy if not kept spotlessly clean; of course you must vacuum your carpet regularly to lift all the dirt, but at least it is not going into the atmosphere.
When choosing a carpet the most important consideration is how much traffic the room will have, this will help to determine the material it is made from, and probably how much you would like to spend. In the UK there are three main materials to choose from: wool, wool/man-made mixes and man-made fibres. You can also opt for silk carpets, but of course they are stratospherically expensive and not for everyday usage!
Wool carpets are usually the most expensive, but give that lovely soft luxury feel; they are great for lower traffic areas such as a master bedroom, or a sitting room that is not used as the everyday relaxation space for a large family. Wool/man-made mixes are the great all-rounder for higher traffic areas such as sitting rooms, hall, stairs and landings and dining rooms. The added man-made fibre gives durability and some stain resistance, but you still have the luxury of wool. Choose grades that are suitable for heavy domestic use in high traffic areas. Man-made fibres have really come on in the luxury stakes over the years, and are best used in rooms that are going to get a lot of wear and tear, particularly where you have pets and young children using the rooms, and need good stain resistance. They are a lot cheaper than wool carpets and would be also be a good budget saving option in rooms that get little use such as guest bedrooms.
When it comes to choosing the right style and colour it can be mind-blowing as there is so much choice out there. Carpet is a great way to add texture to a room, and you can look at velvets, twist piles or looped pile. Velvets give a formal elegant look, but can show footprints and vacuum tracks, twist piles are simple and warm and come in a huge variety of colours, and loop piles are great for adding textural dimension, but beware if you have pets, as the loops can be pulled.
When picking the colour choose shades to match the mood you want to create in the room. For example greens and blues for peace and tranquillity or shades of gold or terracotta for cosiness and warmth. Lighter colours will make a room look more spacious, but remember they will show dirt more easily! Neutrals are a very popular choice these days, but consider whether you want the carpet to be the backdrop to the room or the focal point, and only have a neutral if you want the focal point to be elsewhere in the room for example, in the wall colour, fabrics or accessories. All neutral walls, floors and furnishings can look very flat and uninviting.
A patterned carpet can add real drama to a room, and be the main attraction if you are feeling brave. A very fashionable look, using pattern in a more every day way is to have a striped stair carpet or runner, and there are lots of choices out there if you would like to try this look.
My top tips for purchasing carpet:
- Get samples, the larger the better, and see how they look in the room with existing items and at different times of day.
- Have the room measured and a price quoted by a professional, they will be able to advise you on the best, most economical way to lay the carpet in that room.
- Always use a new, good quality underlay, it will save you time and money in the long run, keeping the carpet from premature wear and tear.
- Have the carpet fitted by a professional fitter, again this will ensure maximum long term appearance and durability.
- Keep the maintenance guide you will be given with the carpet, and always abide by the manufacturers cleaning instructions, wool carpets especially can react badly to the wrong type of cleaning.
There are some great British carpet manufacturers, have a look at: Cormar, Westex, Brockway, Adams and Brintons for a full range of types and prices.
For more advice and help choosing carpet, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org