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A practical guide to buying carpet

By Kate Watson-Smyth
madaboutthehouse.com

Once you have made the decision to choose carpet for your home – and we have already looked at 5 reasons why wool is wonderful - the choices don’t end there. Let’s assume you have an idea of what colour you would like, the big question that remains is what sort of carpet you need.

After all, the requirements for a hardworking hall or staircase are very different from the feeling of soft luxury you might want under your bare feet in the bedroom. Wool is great because it can achieve all these things, but what about the rest of the jargon?

The first, and most important, thing you can do is to work out what you need before you go anywhere near the shop and the smooth sales talk.

And for that you need to answer these simple questions: who, what, when, where and why? Whose room is it or who is using that space the most? What are they doing there – which means will they be in shoes or slippers? Passing through or staying put – this helps you work out how hardwearing your carpet needs to be. When are they in there? Is it for a child or teenager who spends more time in that room than in other parts of the house? Or perhaps it’s for the parents who leave after getting dressed in the morning and don’t return until bedtime. Where are you carpeting – that one’s easy. But why are you looking for a carpet? Was the old one poor quality? Does the existing one not go with the décor? Did you buy the wrong thing before? Do you want to change the look of the room?

Once you have answered those five simple questions you are ready to find out what you need.

The first thing to work out is what type of carpet you need. A twist is a great hardwearing choice and is made, no surprises here, by twisting the strands of yarn tightly together. A heathered style has natural flecks of colour which are great for hiding dirt. A loop is another option, particularly if you’re going for a natural look, but take care if you have pets as their claws can pull the loops.

Velvet, or plush, is, as the name suggests, softer and more luxurious underfoot. This is perfect for a bedroom or dressing room.

Once you have worked this out, you get to the fun bit – the choosing of the colour and design. Now patterned carpets have had a bad rap over the years but whether it’s a discreet fleck or a full-on flower explosion, a pattern will add a different design dimension to a room. However, a pattern might mean you need to buy more to match it across joins or on curving staircases.

Plain is always classic and here you have to decide if you are going to play it safe with a traditional neutral or if you are going to push your design boat out and go for something more dramatic. After all, you can always change the walls to suit. Perhaps you can have a dramatic patterned carpet and keep the walls and window dressings plain as a change from the more classic patterned wallpaper and plain carpet.

One final design trick: if you have coloured walls and coloured carpet then don’t paint the woodwork white. Either match it to the walls or the carpet for a more seamless look that will also make the room look bigger as you won’t be drawing attention to the edges with the white outline.

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A practical guide to buying carpet Kate Watson-Smyth, madaboutthehouse.com
Kate's library, featuring Alternative Flooring's Zebo in Black (Quirky B range) Kate's library, featuring Alternative Flooring's Zebo in Black (Quirky B range)