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Treading Softly

The carpet comeback

photographs courtesy of FLOR

ike linoleum, wall-to-wall carpeting used to be practically a given in residences a couple of decades ago.

I grew up in a house old enough to have hardwood floors, but even there certain rooms were carpeted. Most memorable was the clumpy orange carpet in our den. My brothers and I used to pretend it was lava. We would jump from one piece of furniture to the next to avoid falling onto the molten, 1970s-era surface below. At some point in time, somebody must have thought that carpet was a “groovy” touch.

Since then, carpeting styles have changed, but to a surprising degree carpets have also gone away. No doubt flooding has made carpets less popular in New Orleans – and tile floors, in equal measure, more popular. Meanwhile, people have rediscovered the natural romance of wood floors and realize that covering an antique hardwood floor is a sin.

Still, there are practical benefits to carpets. Everybody loves high ceilings and wide, open spaces, but combined with a tile floor or even a wood floor, such spaces can become echo chambers. Carpeting, by contrast, sucks up sound. Sound, like a tennis ball, bounces more easily off a hard floor than a plush one.

Furthermore, carpeting helps to make a home more energy-efficient. It’s a little like putting insulation on your floor. This can be of particular advantage in raised houses.

There are aesthetic benefits as well. If you feel that wood or tile floors have become too predictable or, in your house, too monotonous, there are some striking carpeting alternative nowadays. The carpet companies have kept up with the times.

One of the most dynamic selections comes from Interface. The company was founded on the premise that wall-to-wall carpeting was not the most efficient approach for offices – that replaceable, modular carpet tiles were the way to go. That way, if the boss spills some ink on the floor, you need only replace the tile with the ink on it. Interface is known for its environmentally aware approach to its manufacturing processes and products. The company’s carpets contain a heavy dose of recycled materials.

A relatively recent spinoff company called Flor focuses on the residential market. By using carpet squares, homeowners can mix and match tiles to create their own patterns, although Flor kindly offers suggested patterns and online tools for experimenting with different combinations. Flor’s focus is squarely on homeowners seeking a modern aura.

Another carpet company worth a look is Shaw Floor. Shaw’s carpets run the gamut of wall-to-wall carpeting types. The choices vary enough to appease both traditional and contemporary predilections. Also in the wall-to-wall market, Karastan has created some daring options.

There are various standard carpet types, such as loop, frieze, patterned and textured. Loop pile carpeting is most readily recognized in the berber variety; these tend to be more durable and stain-resistant, but less cushy, than other types. Frieze carpets are also called “twist” carpets because the fibers are long and highly twisted during the manufacturing process; they hide footprints well and are long-lasting. Patterned carpets may have varieties of color and tuft heights. And textured carpets are soft, familiar and versatile.

It should be remembered that maintenance helps to extend the life of a carpet. Frequent Hoovering helps to keep dirt from being ground in. Professional cleaning on an annual or biennial basis is recommended to refresh the fibers. Finally, like your mom used to say, use the sense that God gave a flea and don’t track mud into the house.


TIP
Use carpeting to improve the acoustics for conversation in an echo-prone room or just to create a cozier ambience. With carpet tiles, mix and match to create unique patterns, separate spaces within a single room or mark off walkways. Where a flooring decision needs to be made, carpeting can be an inexpensive alternative to tile or wood.


 

 

 

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