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Choosing carpet

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Sophie Hoyland takes a look at which options work best for a comfortable feel underfoot
Carpet helps delineate living zones

Whilst hard flooring can offer a long-lasting and timeless appeal, softer options, such as carpet, provides comfort and warmth underfoot. If you pick one of high quality and take good care of it, it can last for up to 20 years. With so many great carpets to choose from, what exactly do you need to consider when picking the right style and material for your home?

Things to consider

“Firstly, you need to ask yourself where the carpet is going to go, what function it will have and how hardwearing it needs to be,” says Zoe Brady, buyer for John Lewis.

If you’re choosing carpet for busy areas such as the living room, you need to pick something that will be practical and hardwearing. The same can be said for hallways, stairs and landings, which are all high traffic zones. Furthermore, as this aspect of your flooring plan has a big visual impact when you enter the home, it’s important to choose a tough and resilient material that will maintain its appearance.

For the dining room, patterned carpet is attractive as well as sensible, as it can hide any food spills. Meanwhile, the most important consideration for the bedroom is texture and warmth. It’s a space you relax in at the end of a busy day, so you want to pick something that’s kind on the toes!

However, carpets are not suited to every room in the home. Areas that are likely to get wet, such as kitchens and bathrooms, are a no-go for this type of soft flooring.

Selecting your style

“Your choice of floor covering is a design statement in its own right and can have a massive impact on the look and feel of a whole room,” says Inga Morris, marketing manager at Crucial Trading. “Pattern, texture and colour are all hugely important  considerations,” she says.

With hundreds of different options available, select carefully to make sure it will blend easily with your existing decor. Or if you’re starting from scratch, choose something that will complement a variety of different interior looks. The chances are you’ll redecorate your home before you replace your carpet again.

David Cormack of Cormar Carpets advises that you get hold of some samples early on in your hunt for the perfect flooring. “It’s a great way to see if a particular colour matches your decor. You can see and feel how the colour and texture work in a room and, more importantly, in the lighting at different times of the day.” Most brands will send out a limited number of free sample, so check with suppliers.

Beige and neutral coloured carpets are still popular. They complement most interior looks, and “can brighten up a small area, create the illusion of space and give a room a light and airy feel,” says Mike Richardson, general manager of Kersaint Cobb. However, they can make a room look empty if not married with bold and bright furniture pieces.

If you do want to go neutral, but want a more on-trend feel, look out for silver and grey coloured designs. “Greys and granites are particularly effective in pulling together the rooms as a whole,” says Richard Meager, managing director at Jacaranda. Roger Oates of Roger Oates Designs agrees: “These sophisticated colours are soft with tinted shades of stone reflecting a shift away from true neutrals.”

That’s not to say colour isn’t in. Fuchsia pinks, deep reds, lime greens and yellows are fast becoming the choice for colour-conscious homeowners. “Customers are keen to liven up their interior floor coverings and strong shades, bolder patterns and textures are emerging as ways to bring hi-light and colour to plain rooms and otherwise boring spaces,” says Roger Oates.

Patterned carpets have also made a comeback in the last couple of years. Kelly Butler at Brintons puts this down to an overall revival in pattern in all aspects of interior, such as wallpapers. “Consumers want to express their own style and personality and are starting to consider floor first. Pattern can actually make a room look bigger as the eye perceives more content,” she says.

There’s now a wide range on the market to choose from, including florals, stripes, tartans and modern motifs. A patterned carpet can act as a focal point in a stark white room and stripes are ideal in a busy household in areas such as hallways and stairs, which get heavily used.

Getting fitted

“Always get an expert to measure and advise on the best choice of flooring for your home,” says Cormar’s David Cormack. Choose designs with the Carpet Foundation Quality Mark and use a retailer who is accredited by The Carpet Foundation. They adhere to a code of practice approved by the Office of Fair Trading to ensure you receive all the help and guidance needed, including written quotes and a good after-sales service.

For peace of mind, if you’re having your flooring fitted by an independent installer, always check they’re a member of the National Institute of Carpet & Floorlayers. It’s also advisable to get new underlay fitted with a new carpet to ensure it sits evenly and retains its appearance for longer.

Main image: Alva in Bearskin from Vorwerk Carpets

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