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Tread Softly

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Carpeting is the ideal vehicle for adding pattern and colour to homes. “We’re not moving house as much, therefore instead of sanding floorboards and adding rugs that we can take with us, we’re investing in permanence like carpet,” says interior designer Andrea Maflin.

“And as floors are probably the first thing you notice when you enter a home, it’s a great space to express your personality. We’re all familiar with feature walls but why not feature floors?”

Modern carpets are alive with imaginative designs, interesting textures and are following fashionable trends by featuring designs ranging from chic florals through to geometrics. Flooring should always be first on the list when decorating as it creates the whole mood and atmosphere of a room, advises Kelly Butler, design manager at Brintons, a luxury carpet manufacturer.

As well as being seductive, underfoot carpet also has insulating properties which make it very energy and cost-efficient for the home.

But don’t panic, there’s no need to wave goodbye to those polished wooden floors that have ruled the home roost for so long. You can still follow the craze for carpet by taking a ‘mix and match’ approach. Select an area which you ‘zone’ or define with carpet – a dining area or seating area which will have the benefit of giving you islands of luxury.

Rugs, the classic decoration for hard floors, are still playing their part, and have paved the way for a return of carpet to the heart of our homes.

Step into stripes
These are emerging as the most popular pattern for the floor, according to Roger Oates, whose company specialises in runners for stairs and halls.

“Stripes are timeless but they can have a contemporary edge depending on the colour combinations used.”

“You can be bold with widths and colours, to create drama, or use fine lines for a more classic or subtle effect. Used on stairs they can look stunning set against old oak or even stone.”

They can also be a boon in smaller rooms, points out Mike Richardson, general manager of Kersaint Cobb. “Linear stripes can help to enlarge the appearance of a room, and this is especially effective in hallways as the stripe draws the eye along the design and appears to elongate the area.”

Colour up
“People often think about using colour for walls and accessories, but using a bright coloured carpet can make such a bold style statement and instantly enliven a dull room,” says George Clarke.

“Make it dramatic by contrasting with neutral walls and pick out the colour in accessories.”

Deep, rich-coloured carpets also add instant warmth to rooms, says Mike Richardson at Kersaint Cobb. “Classic colours such as red or blues will always bring a designer touch,” he says.

“We’re also seeing a big increase in vibrant shades, as people recognise flooring’s an easy route to mastering the trend for really strong colours without having to change furniture or accessories.”

Welcome spring early with rich green shades. Kersaint Cobb’s Designer Sisal flooring, one of the hardest wearing of the natural floor coverings, starts from £52 per square metre and is available in a zingy lime green.

Neat and neutral
Neutral, pared-back shades are still the most popular choice for rooms, as they allow versatility in a room scheme. Their plain good looks allow texture to be the hero, with boucle, herringbone, sculpted designs or even shag pile, that Seventies favourite, reprising its popularity.

If you want to be on trend, be aware that those traditional gold and beige tones are giving way this year to greys, taupes and stone shades.

“If you’re finding it difficult to decide on a colour, be inspired by a favourite accessory or piece of furniture for your carpet colour,” says Andrea Maflin. “That way you won’t be disappointed in the end result and you’ll know it will tone with your scheme.”

Natural floorings made from plant fibre are increasingly finding favour and can be fitted like carpet or used as a room square, rug or runner and come in beautiful neutral shades.

Lay down the law
“Wool floorcovering is ideal for living rooms, as it’s soft underfoot and has durability and springiness,” advises Mike Richardson, at Kersaint Cobb.

“Sisal, seagrass and mountain grass all have smooth fibres and offer a crisp, neat effect. Coir is suitable for those seeking a rougher, more casual look, while jute is the softest of the natural floorcoverings but is less hard-wearing and more absorbent.”

Man-made carpets include acrylic, polyester, polypropylene and nylon, which is the most hard-wearing. Always have new underlay fitted before laying your carpet, as it will wear more evenly and increase its life by up to 40%, advises trade body The Carpet Foundation.

Top Tip: Get a sample of carpet that you can take home and view in different lights before you make a final choice, and always have a room professionally measured if you’re choosing fitted carpet to avoid an expensive mistake.