Today’s hottest carpets have textures or patterns that create visual interest and disguise the problems that foot traffic brings into a home. Photo courtesy of Karastan
A plush carpet in the bedroom creates a warm ambience and also takes the chill off the first step out of bed on a cold winter morning. Photo courtesy of Karastan
Carpet comes in a variety of types, ranging from soft styles that feel great underfoot to textured products that hide footprints and kids’ mystery messes. Photo courtesy of Karastan
Tile Trouble Spots with Carpet
Have a basement, sunroom or kid’s room where rough-and-tumble life leads to wear and frequent stains? Try carpet tiles. These squares of carpet—self-stick or glue-down—come in many patterns and colors. Margi Kyle, an interior designer in Charlotte, N.C., notes you can even use the tiles to create a gameboard look on the floor of a kid’s playroom. The key advantage? If one area becomes soiled or worn, it’s not the end of the whole carpet. “If one tile gets ruined, you just pop in a new one,” says Kyle.
Simple tips for wall-to-wall comfort
- by Deanna L. Thompson
Hardwoods and area rugs may be all the rage, but wall-to-wall carpet is still an excellent fit for today’s homes—especially in rooms where you want warmth, softness and extra insulation.
Choose Your Location
Where are the best places to put carpet? Just about anywhere.
“If you want a warm, finished look and want the acoustics to be soft, then wall-to-wall is really a good bet,” says Margi Kyle, an interior designer in Charlotte, N.C., and national president of the Interior Design Society (IDS).
Bedrooms top the carpet-friendly room list. A plush carpet creates a warm ambience and also takes the chill off the first step out of bed on a cold winter morning. “We always like to carpet a master bedroom,” says Benjamin Bradley, IDS, a partner in a Manhattan interior design firm.
In addition to providing insulation against cold, carpet also provides sound insulation, helping drown out household noise such as the late-night din of teenagers playing video games.
Carpet is also great in nursery/playrooms, where it provides a cushion for baby’s first steps. On stairways, carpet not only adds a touch of beauty but also cuts down on the click-clack of footsteps.
Select Your Style
Do you want a plush or less formal look? Carpet comes in a variety of types, ranging from soft styles that feel great underfoot to textured products that hide footprints and kids’ mystery messes. The main types are:
- Cut pile. This carpet contains loops of yarn that were cut at the top. A plush velvet carpet is one example, but more casual frieze carpets also use longer twisted cut fibers.
- Loop. This carpet has loops of yarn at the top. Berbers are the best-known loop carpets. Usually made with thick yarn, Berbers are durable but wear best when the loops are short. Biggest drawback: Loop carpets aren’t always practical for people with dogs, whose claws can snag the loops, notes Darian Hoyt Miller, IDS, a flooring design consultant in Sarasota, Fla.
- Cut and loop or pattern. This carpet contains a combination of cut fibers and loop fibers. This mix of styles creates a pattern that helps conceal household wear and tear.
Find Your Fiber
The material used in your carpet helps determine how it will look and wear. The main fibers are:
- Nylon. This synthetic material is used in most residential carpets. It is a good choice for families because it’s stain-resistant and resilient—and not likely to mat down if the fibers are densely packed.
- Polyester. Soft to the touch, polyester carpets are generally less expensive but don’t have the resilience of nylon and can therefore mat and look worn more quickly.
- Olefin. Used in many commercial carpets, it is the least expensive synthetic fiber and is color-fast. Inexpensive Berbers are often made of olefin.
- Wool. This soft natural material from sheep is considered the luxurious, top-of- the-line choice. Wool requires professional cleaning, which scares some people off—unnecessarily, Kyle says. “Don’t be afraid of wool,” she says. “Some of the natural fibers are the best. They’ve been around forever.”
Spot Your Trend
Today’s hottest carpets have textures or patterns that create visual interest and disguise the problems that foot traffic brings into a home. For example, textured loop and ribbed carpets—with a combination of loops and cut yarn—have a mottled appearance that hides stains, food spills and traffic patterns, says Bradley. Muted color-on-color patterns, using texture with animal prints or lattice, also are popular, adds Hoyt Miller.
Interested in going green? That is another strong trend. “Wool, sisal and sea grasses are the greenest carpets these days,” says Hoyt Miller. Carpets made with silk, linen, hemp and bamboo also are popular, Bradley adds.
In colors, “chameleon neutrals” are hot, Kyle says. These are created by blending fibers of varying colors (such as blacks, browns, tans and grays) together to create a changing kaleidoscope of hues.
When you’re ready to shop, remember that a quality carpet is dense. Pick up a sample and bend it. If you see a grin (in other words, you see the backing), the carpet is not dense and soon will pack down, says Kyle.
If you can’t pick up the carpet, put your fingernail in the fibers and see how far it will move. If you can move your fingernail easily, it is not a dense carpet, she says.
If you need to budget, choose a slightly lower quality carpet (such as the “better” in a ‘good-better-best’ offering) but always buy the best pad, she says.
“Your carpet is only as good as the underpad and installation,” continues Kyle. “Do not skimp on these two things.”