Top tips for making the best of a less than ideal carpet
At some time or other we all find ourselves putting up with fixtures and fittings in our homes that we’re not too keen on—carpets being a prime example. This is a common scenario in rental accommodation where tenants are obliged to live with what the landlord provides, or when we first move into a property and inherit the previous owner’s tastes.
Carpets are generally seen as a long-term investment, and are manufactured to endure many years of wear and tear. While this is a positive on lots of levels, if the carpet design or colour is not to your taste but the carpet itself is in good condition, it can feel like a frivolous decision to replace it.
With this in mind, we spoke to four of the country’s leading interior designers to discover inside tips for styling a less-than-ideal carpet. Here’s what they had to say:
WHAT ‘INSTANT FIXES’ CAN YOU SUGGEST TO MAKE THE BEST OF A NEUTRAL-COLOURED CARPET THAT MAY BE STAINED OR IN A POOR STATE OF REPAIR?
Steph: A professional clean can often work wonders for reviving a carpet, including refreshing the pile in high-traffic areas. If it’s really not working, a rug or strategically placed large houseplant are great for covering marks and distracting the eye away from undesirable parts.
Emile: Area rugs can enliven a room with colour, pattern and texture. On a practical level, they can also protect what lies beneath or conceal worn or stained flooring. This is just as true for a rug on carpet as it is for one on wood or tile. Just add cushions, rugs, table lamps and decorative bits. You could also try a decorative screen if there is enough room. Do try DIY shops, supermarkets and places like Wilko, eBay and Matalan.
The best thing is to move the furniture around if possible to hide the worst areas, or disguise them with a large rug. Either invest in one that you love and can take with you when you move or choose one that is inexpensive and replaceable. The other option is to ask your landlord to replace or have the carpets cleaned.
Elaine: If you don’t want to spend money on changing the carpet, a first step would be to find a good carpet cleaner. The professionals are amazing in our experience and can get out stains you would never have thought possible to move!
If this doesn’t work and there’s still a mark or the carpet is getting threadbare, a simple option would be to hide the damage and make sure it’s not visible in the room. Rugs are a good option but can only really be placed centrally in a room or they draw attention to a problem. Small pieces of furniture can be used close to walls, and in a children’s room, reading corners with large bean-bags are a great way to hide stains.
Rebecca: Get it professionally cleaned, which is the most effective way of removing stains and refreshing carpets. Furniture and rugs are always useful if you need to cover up any threadbare areas.
HOW WOULD YOU RECOMMEND STYLING A CARPET THAT FEATURES A DISTINCTIVE PATTERN?
Steph: I’m a firm lover of colour and pattern-clashing can really work well. If possible, use the colour palette as inspiration for your room scheme to help blend it in rather than make it stick out. If it’s really terrible, you can get huge rugs that are virtually large enough to fill a room—made-to-measure isn’t always as expensive as it sounds and many independent flooring companies can get coverings made to size.
Emile: If you can live with the pattern, work with it and choose accessories that complement and enhance the look. Alternatively, use a large rug that hides most of the floor, allowing this to be showcased by the distinctive pattern around it. Think of a piece of artwork for your floor with a distinctive border and you have the idea.
Elaine: Make sure to pick out the colours running through the carpet as feature colours. Bring these into your cushions and accessories to help the carpet tie in with the rest of the room. I would go for a simple light colour on the walls to keep the room bright and airy if the carpet is a strong element. As you can imagine, we often work with carpets that people don’t want to change before a sale and usually manage to turn a disaster into something approaching a design feature!
Rebecca: The general rule is that larger and bolder patterns are best suited to bigger rooms. Carpets with small patterns in a mix of colours are good for busy rooms as they can help disguise day-to-day wear and marks, whereas bright colours can make a real style statement. When decorating go for calm and unfussy. Avoid patterned wallpapers and fabrics.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO COMPLEMENT A BOLD-COLOURED CARPET—FOR EXAMPLE, A DARK RED, NAVY BLUE OR CHOCOLATE BROWN?
Steph: Consider the whole room and the natural light available. With a dark red I would use rich colours that are as strong in tone as the carpet to create a sumptuous look. With navy it makes a great base so you can either go colour-crazy with vibrant colours or equally a really pale neutral scheme in differing shades of whites would work well too. Chocolate-brown carpet reminds me of my childhood—my Mum did our entire house in it, and I hated it then too! It does make a good base for a classic scheme although I’d personally be tempted to acquire a huge jute rug to hide it as much as possible.
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