Living room carpet is back where it should be, at the heart of the home. Its charms are more than simply good looks, as it ticks the boxes for seductive softness, and in these days of high fuel bills, has welcome insulating qualities.
The main advantage of living room carpet is the incredible range of decorating possibilities that it offers, thanks to the wide variety of colors and textures, as well as the feeling of warmth underfoot.
The different types of carpet pile available mean you can create a dramatically different look and feel, from the smoothness of velvet pile, to the sumptuous luxury of Saxony. We explore the best options for your living room below.
Living room carpet ideas – embrace the cozy feel of carpet
From patterned to plain, wool to sisal, these inviting floor-coverings bring a welcome warmth to your favorite living room ideas.
1. Go for luxury with a wool carpet
Wool is the preferred option for a living room rug or carpet, not only because it’s a natural fibre but also for its hardwearing qualities and natural springiness, which make it resistant to being compressed by furniture and footsteps. It’s also warm and soft with a luxurious, unmatched feel.
2. Consider color choices
Although the vast majority of us are still opting for neutral carpet, subtle changes are seeping in. The traditional gold and beige tones are being replaced by greys, taupes and stone shades, while strong color is being used now in the same way as wallpaper, to create an accent. Damsons and plums are also popular living room color schemes.
3. Introduce texture to your flooring
Texture in interior design is fundamental, and no more so than on a living room carpet. At the top end of the market textured carpets are clean and crisp, without heavy patterns. ‘However, we are now seeing this smooth surface being broken up by ribbed, herringbone or checked designs,’ says Michael Turner, General Manager, Crucial Trading.
Deep, long pile gives flooring the feel-good factor, while a mix of high and low pile heights can be very luxurious. ‘This gives you a carpet that feels good at a reasonable price,’ says David Cormack, Marketing Director, Cormar. Nubbly boucle in solid colors are also in demand.
4. Play with pattern
The latest living room trends suggest that pattern in back in a big way. Stripes are in – and are now available in several brave colorways – perfect for stairs and small living rooms. The master of stripes Roger Oates champions the versatility of stripes. ‘You can be bold with widths and colors to create drama, or use fine lines to for a more classic or subtle effect,’ he says.
Floral designs are also making a comeback. ‘There’s a trend for designs influenced by the floral and fauna found in nature,' says Kelly Butler, Design Manager, Brintons.
5. Focus on materials when choosing a living room carpet
If you’re looking for more unusual effects and finishes, consider some of the more unexpected fibres. ‘There’s a growing trend of using a percentage of silk or artificial silk, which gives the look of silk at a moderate price,’ says Martin Long of The Carpet Library.
‘Lama is another sleek choice, which is stronger than sheep wool and comes in lots of non-dyed natural shades,’ says Jhon Campo, of Van Besouw. 'Luxurious mohair has a unique feel, and a dense pile, with a slight natural oiliness that protects the fibres.'
6. Choose plant-fibre floorings for a natural look
Natural floorings made from plant fibre are a versatile option, having moved on from merely rustic designs to encompass smart city looks, too. It can be fitted in the same way as carpet, used as a room square or as a rug or runner with a bound or decorative fabric or leather edge.
Plant-fibre flooring doesn’t cope well with water and high humidity so isn’t the right choice for a kitchen or bathroom. Ask for flooring to be pre-treated with a stain inhibitor. Natural flooring is not as dimensionally stable as carpet (sisal may shrink, while coir can swell and shrink), so it should be stuck down.
‘For comfort and longevity, a firm underlay is usually used and the flooring is stuck to that,’ says Michael Turner of Crucial Trading.
7. Opt for a made-to-measure carpet
Bespoke living room carpet can bring an individual look to a room whether used on a sweeping scale for a large drawing room, or for a much smaller project.
‘Bespoke carpet may seem expensive, yet it’s made to the size required so there’s no wastage, and a border can be made to fit any shape of room,’ says Amy Lawton, Design Director, Concept Hand Tufting. 'A sample is hand-tufted for approval by the customer, before the carpet is made up.'
8. Look for quality with a woven carpet
If quality is your watchword, consider woven carpet, made in the traditional method way by weaving the pile into the backing.
‘The quality of a woven carpet is instantly recognizable’ says Ray Snell, Design Manager, Ulster Carpets. ‘The relatively labor-intensive manufacturing process and large quantity of yarn used means a high price ticket, but the quality is second to none, producing stable, very dense carpet.'
9. Or, go for a tufted option
The alternative is tufted carpet, both plain and patterned, made using needles to punch the pile into a backing fabric before a secondary backing is stuck on with latex, to add stability and hold the tufts firm. The quality versions are not necessarily a second-best to woven carpet, and much carpet is now made this way.
10. Factor in the different types of weave
The surface pile texture can make a huge difference to the look and wear of the carpet.
– Twist pile carpets have tightly twisted yarns to give a hardwearing carpet with a crisp feel; these are less likely to show footprints and wear and tear.
– Velvet carpets have a dense low-cut pile, where individual tufts are hardly visible. The density gives a rich, smooth effect though it tends to show footprints.
– Loop piles are also popular and many are woven to look like natural floorings such as sisal. A mixture of high and low loops or cut and loop pile tufts within the same carpet are sometimes used to create pattern. A good choice for a light-toned carpet, they won’t show indentations from footprints. Most loop piles suit heavy domestic use.
– Flatweave carpets are similar to loop piles, but have a flatter, smoother surface. These work well for runners and stair carpets.
– Saxony carpets have a long pile making them luxurious underfoot while shag pile carpets have even longer tufts. Both are excellent for use in bedrooms and living rooms.
What is the best carpet for a living room?
Wool is often considered the best choice for a living room carpet. Its hardwearing qualities – and softness underfoot – make it resistant to being compressed by furniture and footsteps.
If you are after extra durability, then look no further than a blend of 80% wool with 20% nylon or other fibres such as polypropylene. Alternatively, polyamide (nylon) is extremely strong – and has high abrasion resistance. It’s often blended with wool, though it can be used on its own to produce low-cost living room carpet.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space.
Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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