How To Choose Carpets, Rugs And Floor Coverings

If you are embarking on an interior design project or simply wish to stamp a fresh new look on your home, consider uplifting the interior with new carpets or rugs.

Floor coverings are an important element of interior design, contending with lighting, paint colours, kitchens, bathrooms and furniture, enabling you to add warmth, pattern, colour and dimension to each room.

Decisions related to carpets and rugs involve many choices. Lorna Haigh, Creative and Marketing Director of Alternative Flooring, has kindly offered her expertise to guide us through the maze of how to choose carpets, rugs and floor coverings.

Alternative Flooring is an award-winning British brand designing and manufacturing carpets, rugs and runners made from wool, natural fibres and faux materials.

Q. What is the best way to prepare a floor for fitted carpet?

A. What is underneath is always important. If the sub-floor (the base floor on which the floor covering is being laid) is in poor condition, with bumps or dents, this can affect how the flooring will look and could mean that the flooring will not wear well in particular places. With poor sub-floors, a good fitter may suggest applying plywood or making the floor good before fitting the floor covering.

Q. How do you decide whether to have a rug or a fitted carpet – are there rules for different rooms?

A. Rugs and runners can go everywhere. We have textured floor coverings which are suitable for kitchens, bathrooms and even outside, but fitted carpets are luxurious underfoot in bedrooms, hallways, stairs and living rooms.

Image: Quirky B Ben Pentreath Cube Soane Carpet 

Q. What type of materials are best for rugs and carpets?

A. This very much depends on the foot fall and the look and feel you want to achieve. Luxury deep pile carpets are fantastic underfoot in bedrooms as carpets and rugs but may not perform well in an area with heavy foot fall, such as on stairs or in hallways.

Image: Wool Berber, Omani

For stairs and hallways that get lots of traffic, a tightly woven wool is great because it can be cleaned easily; or go for a carpet with a fleck in it, which hides a multitude of sins. Or sisal, which is another option that has proved popular in hallways or as stair runners.

Image: Sisal in country house of Louise Rowe

Wool is simply a wonder fibre: natural, easily cleaned and it retains its shape and bounce after cleaning unlike many man-made fibres.

Image: Margo Selby Stripe Rock Reculver Carpet

Faux fibres are used in our Anywhere synthetic sisal-style range. These are low pile height floor coverings and can be very practical for high foot fall areas like stairs and hallways and a great solution for bathrooms and kitchens as well.

Image: Anywhere Shadow

Q. When is it best to use pattern in a rug and when would it be preferable to specify a plain rug with texture?

A. Patterned rugs are practical and lift spaces; they become a focal point in a room and act as art for the floor. Plain textured floor coverings are timeless, classic and easy on the eye, but will show every spot and spill.

Image: Rock ‘n’ Roll Mr Blue Sky and Wool Peeble

Q. How do you decide on the size of a rug for a room?

A. Generally, go big. A rug that is too small for your space can cause the room to feel uninviting. However, a rug which is too large for the room can make the room feel too busy and smaller than it actually is. Leave at least 40 cm either side of your sofa and make sure the front legs of your sofa sit on the rug. In bedrooms, be generous with the size of a soft wool rug.

Image: Wool Barefoot Bikram with single Ochre cotton border

Q. Can you please provide some tips for caring for rugs and carpets?

A. We always suggest that you opt to have stain inhibitor solution applied to your carpet or rug. The Intec solution we use is environmentally friendly, coats the fibres of the carpet or rug and gives you time if a spill occurs. We recommend that you have a cleaning kit specifically for your floor covering. Specialist cleaning advice is available from our cleaning partner WoolSafe who also advise on everyday spots and spills.

Q. What can you tell us about rug and carpet online tools?

A. Our ‘Show Me My Room’ visualiser works for any room in four simple steps. It helps our customers to visualise Alternative floor coverings in every space of their home, even on their stairs. It provides confidence in choosing carpet and making a purchase. And it helps interior designers to bring flooring to life when presenting decorating schemes.

Image: Show Me My Room visualiser

Our ‘Make Me a Rug’ service inspires us all to design a rug or runner that suits our individual space and taste. Bespoke rugs are of the perfect quick solution to transform rooms.

Q. How did you choose the interior tastemakers known as Alternative’s rug stars?

A. We wanted a mix of designers, interior designers, stylists and influencers happy to show off their rugs in the comfort of their own home. Margo Selby, Sophie Robinson, Lucy Gough, Kate Watson-Smyth and Mini Moderns are all inspirational tastemakers who embrace our products. We didn’t really choose them; we found one another.

Q. What’s your dream rug combination?

A. At the moment I am absolutely loving our Big Jutes and would probably choose Big Jute Panama Waffle with a Cotton Cashmere border. Simple, but full of texture.

Image: Big Jute Panama Waffle with Cotton Cashmere border

Q. How have you redesigned the Alternative Flooring website?

A. Choosing flooring is not easy. We have tried to make things simpler by having a website with a great filter to make selection easier. Select by colour, weave, pattern or price. Narrow down those choices and order samples online. We give handy tips and inspirational images of how rooms can look with our flooring.

Alternative Flooring recently relaunched their website with a new branding ethos, People, Product, Planet at its core. All Alternative floor coverings have a story. They are designed and crafted and exist to endure the test of time – not as landfill. The majority of products are natural and telling the story of where they come from and how they are made is something the company cares about passionately.  Helping to choose carpets and rugs is at the heart of Alternative’s vision. Visit the website or watch their new video:

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