Design Shopper, Your House

Buyer’s Guide To Carpet

23rd January 2013
This runner from Alternative Flooring is called Quirky Skinny Black

This runner from Alternative Flooring is called Quirky Skinny Black

A few of you have been asking about carpet recently, so I thought it was time to take the plunge and investigate what’s out there so you don’t have to.

Carpet has suffered from a rather poor image in recent years but it’s coming back into favour now. After all it’s warm, natural and soft underfoot.

I chose spots, you might prefer stripes

I chose spots, you might prefer stripes

Now, if you are of a nervous disposition you had better sit down, because I am going to say something controversial. Ready? All right then, deep breath: patterned carpet is ok.

Obviously, you need to be careful with it, but the stairs are a great place to start.

for stairs stripes is nice

for stairs stripes is nice from Roger Oates

This is because halls and landings can often be unremarkable spaces. There’s no room for furniture so you’re relying on pictures on the walls or your floors for a bit of impact. And, the other point to note is that, as no-one spends much time in these places, as they are just for passing through, you can afford to have a little bit of drama. After all, it’s not like you’re going to be there for hours on end as you might be in a sitting room or bedroom.

In my house, the one with the spotty carpet above, we finished runner under the nose of the top stair and left the landings bare. This wasn’t just a financial decision, but also because with such a dramatic pattern, we felt it might be a bit too much to have it all over the landing as well as up the stairs so it was a way of toning it down a little.

Another way of using pattern is to have a plain carpet downstairs and upstairs and link the two with something patterned in the middle. As long as there is a link with the colours, that will work. For example, and I don’t have a picture of this, you could have a dark grey hall carpet or in the downstairs rooms, take it up the stairs in pink and grey stripes and then have a paler grey in the upstairs rooms.

Be dramatic

Be dramatic

But if that sounds too scary, then how about having a plain, but dramatic colour on the stairs. A friend of mine has grey hall walls and a black and white tiled hall floor. This hot pink runner from Roger Oates would look fabulous running up her stairs.

If pink’s not your thing, how about orange?

New Hadley Mandarin from Roger Oates

New Hadley Mandarin from Roger Oates

When it comes to rooms, you will need to tone it down a bit. But the key point is that you don’t have to have the same carpet throughout the whole house. As I suggested above, you could start with a darker colour on the ground floor, where people might be wearing shoes, and take it gradually paler as you go up.

This is a very subtle way of doing pattern. It doesn’t actually have to look like a pub you know.

image from housetohome.co.uk

image from housetohome.co.uk

For heavy traffic areas, it’s a good idea to have a carpet that’s a mix of wool and nylon, usually 80/20. This means it won’t flatten as quickly as a pure wool carpet. However, it’s important to buy good quality underlay too.

Choose a twist for these heavy traffic areas as it’s flat and won’t flatten as easily.

herringbone carpet from crucial trading

herringbone carpet from crucial trading

If the pile has flattened from where you have had heavy furniture then hover a full steam iron over the affected area and tease it up again with a blunt darning needle. If the carpet has been broken by the weight of the furniture, rather than just crushed, this may not work. Try buying some castors for the feet of the item to sit on, this spreads the load.

Wool Chicago carpet in Chocolate, £80 per sqm, Crucial Trading

Wool Chicago carpet in Chocolate, £80 per sqm, Crucial Trading

Most carpets come in a standard 4m width so if your room is longer or wider than that you may be more restricted in your choice.

Now, I understand that most of you don’t want to buy carpet online but to see it and feel it. When it comes to the makes above, the best thing to do is often to go online to the maker’s website and find out where your nearest stockist is.

One good website to check out is Fun on the Floor , which has a list of shops and sites that can give you ideas. Otherwise there is, of course, the aforementioned Alternative Flooring , Crucial Trading or Online Carpets which has a large range of stock, including stripes, and will send out free samples.

Once you’re happy with your choice, then you should be able to find a local fitter. Don’t stint on the underlay and do ask for a reference. If you have a friendly builder, he (or she) may also be able to recommend a good local fitter. Ask who they use?

This is an old journalism trick of mine, when interviewing any expert on any subject, ask them: Where did they buy their carpet, dishwasher/sofa. After all if it’s good enough for them…

 

 

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  • Kim inouye 8th March 2016 at 10:56 am

    Kate, just got your book and find it very inspiring! For the past few months I’ve been sitting on the fence about going dark in my livingroom, hall and landing but after reading your book I’ve decided to go for it! My question is regarding the stairs. I’ve decided that the wall colour will be F&B Charleston Grey and want your advice about painting the actual stairs in Skimming Stone. Do you think that having the stairs a different shade to all the trim (white) in the rest of the house will work? The other question is about the carpet on the stairs. I love the idea of the two different shades for upstairs and down stairs and using pattern and/or colour to join the two. But whats the best way to join the two on the top stair? Because the my stairs are fairly narrow and there is a sharpe angled bend to the top, would a runner look lost? Regards Kim

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 8th March 2016 at 3:24 pm

      Hi Kim, I’m glad you like the book. So, firstly I think you can paint the stairs a different colour but the most effective way to do that is to paint a runner so that it’s white at the sides with a broad stripe up the middle. This can look really effective. Having said that, it’s probably more practical to go with a dark shade at that point. Try it with Mahogany which is good with Charleston. Secondly, have you tested it yet – despite the name it can be more beige in a south facing space so you need to decide if you want a warm browny grey. That said and colours decided, you have also mentioned using carpet on stairs. This can be good for noise reduction as painted stairs can be noisy when people are thundering up and down. I don’t think a runner would be lost on a narrow stair – you just might want to take it closer to the edges than on the floors below – keep the carpet the same width but make the margins narrow. That will it will look consistent. When joining carpet you can usually take it up to just under the nose on the top stair and then start again on the landing. It’s slightly hard to describe without seeing but I hope that helps.

  • Rosa 24th August 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Hi Kate, was just reading some of your old flooring article. Where would you recommend getting some rubber flooring from? Thanks

  • 11 Beautiful Staircase Inspired by Polka Dot Design 19th March 2015 at 6:31 am

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  • Rachael 29th January 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Hi Kate,
    Thank you for this post, we’re still trying to make our decision for the hallway, swinging between vinyl tiles, rubber and wood… but not carpet! If this was going to be our ‘forever house’ we’d go for the statement orange carpet, imagine your guests reactions every time they walked in through the door, “Wow!!!”
    Rachael

    • Kate 29th January 2013 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Rachael, have you thought about orange rubber? We have black rubber in the shower room and yellow in the downstairs loo. It’s warm, non-slip and easy to clean. That way you can make a statement in a practical fashion. That would make your heart sing every time you came through the front door wouldn’t it? Another point is that you can afford to be really dramatic in a hall as no-one lingers there. It’s a passing-through place so you wouldn’t have to stare at the bright colour for ages…. let me know what you think.

  • Jason Barnett 27th January 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Good post Kate and some great images, love your spotty carpet but that orange would be too bright for me!
    Gail I’m sure a twist would be ok we have a loop pile on the stairs and our puppy is fine. I worked in flooring for years and never heard of that problem with a twist.

  • Gail Goss 23rd January 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Hi Kate,

    Hope all is well with you!

    Funny I was just looking at carpet in John Lewis for out stairs, the one I love is apparently inappropriate as we have 2 dogs who love running up and down them. The guy advised against a twist as their nails get caught up so a ‘flatish heavy weight one’ is best.
    Anyhow thought your dog owning readers may appreciate that little fact.

  • Amy Wax 23rd January 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Hi Kate, I am sharing your great article about carpet choices on my Color911 Facebook page. I thought you would appreciate knowing that you are featured. I enjoy reading your blog and hope you follow along with my posts on FB or follow along @Color911 on twitter and https://pinterest.com/color911/
    Glad to “meet” you… look forward to sharing inspiration!
    Amy Wax

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