365 Objects Of Design

Liberty Fabric Patterned Carpet

19th October 2016

Now listen because I am going to talk about something that is a little scary at first but, when you have got over the initial shock, is actually a lovely thing that you should all be thinking about. Are you ready? You know how much we all love those classic prints by Liberty – those pretty flowers and intricate designs by William Morris. Well now you can buy them in patterned CARPET.

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Strawberry meadow, from the Liberty Jubilee Collection, was inspired by the bohemian clientele that made the store so fashionable in the 1880s

All right at the back there? Yes, that’s it, somebody pass her a glass of water. While you fan yourself, the first thing to note is that patterned carpet has come a long way from the pubs of the 1970s. And you can’t get much cooler than a Liberty print now can you?

The problem is we have been so conditioned against using pattern that we’re all now completely terrified of it. It’s the same with the anaglypta wallpaper which looks amazing when you paint it in strong, matt modern colours, and yet some of you have set your faces against it. But I have it on good authority that Michelle Ogundehin, the editor of Elle Decoration, has used it in her home and she knows. She KNOWS. So let’s just try opening our minds and having a little look at this collection shall we.

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Capello Shell (in mist) is part of The Secret Garden collection inspired by the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett in 1911

The collection has been created by Alternative Flooring with Liberty Design Studio and there are four signature designs in 10 colourways comprising floral, bird, garden and paisley prints that have been scaled up to work for floors. This is the first time that Liberty has used its patterns on carpet and the result is a stunning range by these two great British brands. The carpets are all woven on axminster looms in Salisbury, Wiltshire, by the way.

Alternative Flooring has collaborated with designers before, notably Ben Pentreath and Margo Selby, to produce patterned carpets for the Quirky B collection but this is the first time it has worked with a company. And I reckon they’ve pulled off a bit of a coup.

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The capello shell design was found in a book of Paisleys from the Lancashire Mills and reworked to represent the rhyme Mary Mary quite contrary, How does your garden grow…?

As many of you will know I have a spotty stair runner from Quirky B and it truly makes my heart sing every time I open the front door. And how many of you can honestly say they feel their spirits lift at the sight of sensible oatmeal twist? Exactly. It’s time to bring back the pattern. To bring a little more personality into our homes. After all, I have cited him before, but given that William Morris designed one of these I feel it’s only right to remind ourselves that you should have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

The collection came about after Lorna Haigh, head of marketing at Alternative Flooring, saw the Liberty fabrics and thought they would work wonderfully on carpet. She contacted Liberty who said:

“This has been an exciting project as these classic and archival prints have been woven into rugs, runners and carpets which has led to a new and interesting visualisation for these iconic designs.”

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Felix Raison, a paisley pattern from a 19th shawl taken from the Liberty archive and woven into carpet by Alternative Flooring

But never mind all that, I hear you cry. How do we use them in our homes? Well, first up the gorgeous capello shell design in soft pinks and greys would be perfect for the bedroom or dressing room. I don’t know about you but I’m rather over stepping out of a warm, cosy bed onto a cold, draughty floorboard so that’s the first place you should consider.

Secondly, do think about using the more dramatic designs on the stairs. Patterns are intensely practical as they don’t show the dirt and given that stairs are transient places, you can afford to go bold as you won’t be spending hours at a time looking at it.

Finally, if you’re going all out with the pattern on the floor then keep the furniture simple. You will need some black to anchor it all and bring it down a notch or two. Furniture with clean, straight lines will counteract the exuberance of the carpet and make it stand out on its own. I’m also a fan of a patterned rug under a kitchen table. I know you’re all going to shout that it’s not practical but, as I said above, patterns covers stains and spills really well (why do you think they put it in all those pubs) and it brings a much needed splash of colour to a room that is often full of cold, hard lines. And if you have a dining room then there is even more reason to bring in some rich pattern as opulence and luxe are definitely themes at the moment.

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Flowers of Thorpe carpet by Alternative Flooring with Liberty, originally designed in the 1970s

What do you think? Are you prepared to give it a go?

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  • Corinne Twining 19th October 2016 at 1:30 pm

    I was with you all the way – until the last 2

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 20th October 2016 at 7:17 am

      Well I was trying to lead you in gently! I think you need a BIG room for the last two. Or, as I said, you could make a fabulous rug or stair runner with those two.

  • Melissa Lee 19th October 2016 at 12:44 pm

    I do quite like these! They look very elegant to me.

  • sally 19th October 2016 at 9:57 am

    No!… well worn floorboards for me – preferably painted black, grey or chalk white – or natural wide elm. x

  • Sandra 19th October 2016 at 9:54 am

    A polite no thanks. Reminds me of the 1960’s carpets that I spent months ripping out of our home when we moved in 2000. These type of carpets seem to give a migraine and require sunglasses for longer periods of observation.

  • Mel lissack 19th October 2016 at 8:27 am

    It works in the pictures but I really don’t think I’d ever do it in my home – I so associate patterned carpet with ‘doer upper’ homes!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 19th October 2016 at 9:16 am

      I know what you mean. I think it’s because it’s so new and feels a bit out there. I think the capello shell would be gorgeous in a bedroom or dressing room and any of them would work as a stair runner. I think we just need some time to get used to the idea. I wrote a piece for The Independent in 2009 saying that Grey was the new Magnolia and everyone laughed – even I didn’t quite believe it and look at us now…

  • Helen Simmons 19th October 2016 at 8:05 am

    Oh WOW! Strawberry Meadow looks stunning against that grey (!) and the Flowers of Thorpe hallway is just beautiful – if only my house had a hallway such as that!

  • Jenny 19th October 2016 at 7:16 am

    I love the capello shell but I’m afraid I do draw the line at a paisley carpet!

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