Flooring expert reveals the only downstairs room you should be using carpet in

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  • It’s safe to say that carpet in a kitchen or a bathroom is a definite ‘no’, but these aren’t the only places where carpet should be banned, according to a flooring expert.

    Related: Living room flooring ideas – from wooden flooring and tiles to durable yet stylish carpet

    ‘The only rooms that should ever be carpeted downstairs are reception rooms,’ says interior designer Carla Chases of Carla Designs, ‘and even then, I think a wooden floor with rugs would be a preferable choice 90% of the time.’

    Neutral living room with wood floor and berber rug

    Image credit: John Lewis

    ‘For me, the best choice for long life and enduring style is always a beautiful wooden floor. Wood is timeless, naturally warm underfoot and can work equally well in a living room with the use of rugs as much as in a utility room.’

    ‘The right choice of wooden floor can highlight the period, style and scale of a house beautifully. And a good wooden floor will soak up sounds too.’

    Library with wooden parquet floor

    Image credit: Carpetright

    What about carpet upstairs?

    ‘Upstairs, and in hallways and on stairs, carpet is a lovely flooring,’ adds Carla, ‘it gives a warm, soft feel underfoot and helps to keep the space as cosy as possible.’

    Interior designer at Greta Mae, Amy Jones, admits that she hasn’t used carpet in many recent projects, with clients requesting wooden floors, ‘although people do choose the combination of a wooden floor downstairs and then opt for carpet upstairs, as it’s soft to get out of bed on.’

    So has carpet had its day? 

    Bedroom with purple carpet

    Image credit: Carpetright

    ‘Definitely not!’ says interior stylist and set designer Diana Civil, ‘it’s an extremely versatile tool as part of a decorating scheme. I always treat the floor as the fifth wall, so styling from the floor is a great way to go. Advances in carpet technology has meant there’s a huge range of fibres, colours, textures and patterns to choose from. It also has that wonderfully tactile-soft look and feel.’

    Are neutral carpets the way to go?

    Neutral living room with velvet armchair

    Image credit: Carpetright

    ‘You can only imagine how much neutral carpet I have used on decorating shoots over the years,’ says Diana, ‘but as the stylist for Carpetright, working on its trend look books each season, I am always chomping at the bit to see the new colours and patterns I can play with – to me, the more bold, imaginative and innovative, the better.

    ‘It does take courage to step away from neutral flooring. Perhaps transform your hallway or stairs to start, giving personality to a functional through-route and turn it into a showstopper?’

    Amy is more cautious; ‘There’s a big trend towards more jewel-like colours and maximalist patterns, but these are quite a statement and would dictate everything else. I personally prefer using a neutral carpet in say a jute/wool mix and then layer the interest on top with a rug.’

    Are patterned carpets over?

    Living room with striped carpet

    Image credit: Kersaint Cobb

    ‘Absolutely not,’ says Diana. ‘Patterned carpet is set for a massive revival. After the gloom and doom of 2020, maximalism is set to continue with bold colour and expressive style making its mark on our homes, with florals, geometrics and animal prints taking centre stage. It’s all about self-expression, so be brave!’

    Amy recommends making sure you really love a patterned carpet. ‘It’s not really part of my aesthetic,’ she says, ‘so I’d always advise clients to be 100% sure that they will like it for a long time – carpet is a big financial investment.’ Still sold on the idea of pattern, then Amy suggests going for a patterned stair runner.

    Should we put the same carpet everywhere, or is it ok to mix it up?

    Neutral living room with patterned carpet

    Image credit: Carpetright

    ‘Having the same carpet everywhere can help make a space feel bigger as there are no definite edges,’ says Amy.

    ‘It also depends on the layout of your home,’ adds Diana. ‘In a traditional home with separate rooms, I love mixing it up as it adds personality to each room, but it’s good to have one colour that links everything together. For open-plan, you can “zone” areas with different carpets or mix and match a plain with a stripe, but it needs to be done smartly so each zone works with the scale of the furniture in it.’

    Lastly, are rugs on carpet a naff idea?

    Living room with yellow sofa and round rug

    Image credit: Joanna Henderson

    ‘No, it’s all down to how you do it,’ says Amy. ‘If you have a neutral carpet, a rug is going to add an extra layer of texture, interest and pattern to a room. But if you have a thick-pile carpet, then I wouldn’t add a thick-pile rug on top – it would be too much, but a patterned rug over a neutral carpet adds extra colour and interest.’

    Diana agrees: ‘While some people treat this as a capital sin, personally, I think it has it’s place with certain types of carpets. It’s also great for rentals, where you inherit existing carpet – a rug can transform the space and make it your own… better still, you can take it with you.

    Related: The most popular rugs of 2020 revealed – and how to style them in your home

    My biggest bugbear is a tiny rug in the centre of a room, topped with a coffee table and a huge gap around it before you get to the furniture,’ says Diana. ‘Always choose the largest rug that will work in your space,’ she recommends, ‘and measure before you shop.’

    Words: Jennifer Morgan

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