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Carpets, floor, and wall coverings have a big impact on a room, but often people pick their carpet last. The walls are painted and the furniture bought before consideration is given to the carpet, which makes it more difficult to get it to match the rest of the room. You should consider every part of the décor, before you buy or start to decorate. Planning is an integral part of interior decorating, if you want to get it right. It’s also important if you are spending a lot of money.

Wall-to-wall carpeting is one of the most popular floorcovering for decorative and practical reasons, although of late, wood seems to be taking over. But you should opt for what you like rather than for what is in fashion, as trends tend to come and go. You should also apply this to colour. No floor surface compares to the softness underfoot of a carpet, it’s luxurious to walk or sit on. It adds warmth, a significant area of colour, texture, and sometimes pattern to a room, as well as providing thermal and acoustic insulation. All of this plays a large part in the decoration of the room. It helps to unify the style by providing a background that integrates walls, furnishings, and accessories. Carpets are produced in many styles and a wide range of materials, so there is one to suit almost any style of room.

Choose the right colour for your carpet and it will work like a canvas, bringing together the patterns and tones of the rest of the room. You need to decide if it’s going to be a focal point or more subtle. The darker the colour the smaller the room will look, for a small room you might be better to choose paler shades. Soft pale colours may be less practical but they make a good background for the details and fabrics used in the rest of the room. Really dark colours will show dust and fluff, while light one will show stains, so you are better off choosing a mid-range colour. Patterned carpets are popular because they don’t show up the dirt as much, but you need to be careful, as it can be difficult to find curtains and couches to match a very detailed one. A carpet with a geometric pattern or a small motif is more subtle and less overpowering. The smaller the room the smaller the pattern should be or else it will dominate everything.

You can also consider a border when planning your carpeting. A border of contrasting pattern or colour can look very well around the edge of a room, especially in a large room where it seems to bring in the walls. Borders also look well up the side of a stair carpet. Although a border can look well, it sometimes can work out very expensive when planning your budget. When decorating a room, don’t consider it in isolation but as part of the house, colours in one room should complement those adjacent to it. This gives continuity to the whole house and makes it bigger.

Carpet Types

There are different Pile Effects, but the main difference is between cut pile, where the fibres are in strands and loop pile, where they remain uncut. Loop pile gives a more textured look. You can also have cut and looped piles combined or have the pile cut to different depths, to form a range of textured and patterned effects that hide wear and marks well. Shorter piles are more suited to areas where there is a lot of traffic. Longer piles are more luxurious and better suited to eg. a bedroom. Loop piles are more resilient whereas cut piles may show the marks of furniture.

The texture and quality of a carpet is determined by the way it is made or constructed. Woven carpets are traditionally, the strongest, finest quality, and the most expensive carpets. The fibres are woven into the backing to form a dense, strong pile. They’re two main types—Axminister and Wilton. The Axminister weaving method allows a wide range of colours to be used to create quite elaborate patterns, although plain and simpler designs are more popular. The pile is always cut, it can be short and smooth of long and shaggy. The Wilton method uses more yarn, which makes it more expensive. They tend to be plain or only have a simple pattern and it’s a hardwearing carpet. It’s available with a cut, cut and loop, or loop piles.

Tufted carpets are made by pushing, rather than weaving, the strands of fibre into the backing. They are quicker and more economical to make than the woven ones, so are generally cheaper, but can be as high in quality. The basic carpets are usually plain—patterns are added on mechanically or by printing. For a course texture, you should choose a tufted carpet with a twisted pile. Cord carpets are robust and have a flat appearance and are particularly well suited to busy areas, eg. hallways. Carpet Tiles are well known for their heavy-duty, hardwearing qualities. Not only are they simple to lay, but can be arranged in attractive patterns and also lifted up again separately for cleaning or replacing. They can be corded for heavy wear or soft pile for eg. a bedroom.

Types of Fibre

Carpets are normally made from wool, synthetic fibres or from a combination of both. Wool carpet is naturally warm, soft, and most luxurious with the deepest colour quality. It’s also easy to keep clean, fairly fire retardant, resists static build-up, and will spring back after being crushed, but it’s expensive. Modern synthetic fibres are extremely hardwearing and stain resistant, although they lack the qualities of wool. The greatest advantage is that they are cheaper. Nylon is one of the toughest manmade fibres, but in its untreated form it attracts dirt and dust. A blend of 80% wool with 20% nylon is a popular choice. You have the look and feel of wool and the toughness and less expense of nylon. From a health point of view, a 100% wool carpet is less dusty than 80/20 one.

Which Carpet?

Every room in your home has a different type of carpet requirement, depending on its location and your lifestyle. It’s important to get the quality right because an unresilient carpet in a hallway or an over-expensive one in the bedroom will be a waste of money in the long run. Carpet is not really suited to kitchens because there is a high risk of spills, but if you want a soft floor finish, carpet tiles are an idea. You can lift a tile and swap it with a clean one from a less obvious place in the room. Bathrooms have the same problems as a kitchen, where moisture can be the biggest hazard. If you do choose a carpet, the backing needs to be waterproof especially in small rooms. Use a large bath mat and a washable one around the toilet. Bedrooms are the obvious place for carpeting. Traffic is light, so you will be able to save money on quality. Long pile will give a luxurious feel. For children’s rooms a short pile and stain resistant is a better choice.

Living rooms, including dining room, need hardwearing varieties. Carpet tiles are an ideal floorcoverning for family dining areas. The quality of the carpeting and the depth of colour should be as good as other furnishings in the room so that the overall effect is not spoilt. Hall, stairs, and landing, where traffic is at its heaviest, need strong, short pile carpeting of the best quality you can afford. The carpet you choose should be a practical colour and easy to vacuum clean.

Carpets, for a long time, have provided elegant ways of softening cold and hard floor surfaces and will continue to do so in the future. A good quality carpet for a fairly large room doesn’t come cheap, so some planning and thought should go into choosing one. If done right it will give many years of comfort and pleasure.

Mary D. Kelly
Decorating Options
(091) 798224