It is a luxurious product, soft to the touch, comfortable, but audaciously glamorous. A fashion statement.
Are you thinking of the wall-to-wall carpet?
Fur flooring may evoke a 1970s adult movie set more than the glamor of the moment, but like it or not, all signs point to a resurgence of this misunderstood interior design icon. From swanky nightclubs to edgy apartments, carpeting suddenly takes on a star twist.
The past few decades have not been kind to carpeting, which tends to be eagerly ripped from rooms during renovations in hopes of revealing pristine hardwood floors beneath. Common complaints about carpeting include dated colors, wear and, of course, the challenge of keeping it intact. But, from the 1950s, it was all the rage, thanks to new synthetic fibers (first developed by DuPont researchers) that made carpeting a new and affordable luxury. Carpeting added color and comfort to post-war homes and provided a soft surface on which to relax or play.
As with so much else in American popular culture, carpets got bigger, hairier, and dirtier throughout the 1960s and 1970s. People started putting rugs in (inexplicably) bathrooms and the kitchens. By the time the 1980s introduced pink and blue rugs to pastel-hued interiors full of curved Formica-covered furniture, wall-to-wall carpeting was rapidly losing its shine.
It was the 1990s that sounded the death knell, according to Rigid carpet brand ambassador Tim Sheridan. “The wall-to-wall fade is microsociological collateral damage of macroeconomic change,” he says. “The dot.com aesthetic has remained minimalist; no carpets, no accessories, no curtains, but centered on technology. This aesthetic has remained as [young tech entrepreneurs] moved out of basement apartments and into penthouses. They wanted nothing to do with the “old people” – they were old people or relatives with wall to wall.
There were also better options out there, according to Katherine Cohen, head of visual merchandising at FLOR, such as hardwood and vinyl tiles. “As such, carpeting has been replaced and rugs have been used which still prioritize elevated design and underfoot comfort.”
But for designer Harry Nuriev, founder of Crosby Studios, the carpet deserves a reminder. Purple carpeting is a feature of the NoLiTa apartment he shares with partner and Crosby Studios colleague Tyler Billinger. The couple bravely transformed their rental into purple and gray area, with curious details like a tiled sink, puffy padded kitchen cabinets, and a translucent purple partition that separates the kitchen from the living room. As to whether the carpet is “back”, Nuriev asks, “What’s wrong with the carpet? For me, carpeting is part of a dream of hotels, casinos and lounges from old movies. Plus, it’s a solid surface. In this way, it is also a tribute to minimalism.
For furniture designer Mark Grattan, the founder of Studio VIDIVIXImint green and white carpeting made her Mexico home (the star of ELLE DECOR’s April 2021 cover) both stylish and cozy, while evoking the creativity, glamor and seismic change of the 1970s and ’80s. “Studio 54 is a good example [of that zeitgeist]. Whatever Mapplethorpe and Basquiat did, I really wanted to be a part of it,” Grattan says, noting that the upholstered look for him also signified a thriving era of black cultural production — from disco to the birth of rap and hip-hop.
But carpeting is demanding, and while it certainly deserves a second look, it’s not for everyone. “The mat is for the person who takes pride in cleanliness,” says Grattan. “I installed white carpet in my bedroom. But that’s only because the room is uncrowded. Thinking about how the room is used – and how often – is an important conversation to have with yourself before choosing to install carpet. Are you too lazy to take off your shoes around the house? That’s a good question to ask yourself. »
Pale, delicate colors aren’t the only option available to designers who aren’t afraid of the loose weave. As he prepared to open Nines, his sleek piano bar in NoHo, restaurateur and founder of Golden Age Hospitality Jon Neidich took sage decorating advice from a naturally chic and design-conscious woman: his mother , Brooke Garber Neidich.
Brooke, a jewelry designer, advised her son to choose a leopard rug from the house of Hackney. He was browsing the English florals, but Brooke immediately landed on the leopard pattern. “I was surprised because it seemed like such a bold move,” Neidich says, “but I quickly thought of it, and all kinds of women love leopard: you see it in older chic women, women younger, it runs the gamut.” Layered with antique Murano chandeliers and velvet-covered banquettes, the rug helped the Nines become an instant hotspot.
Understated or glamorous, there’s plenty of inspiration to be gleaned from upholstered interiors of the 1970s and 1980s, says Stark’s Sheridan: “Think Jay Spectre, Ward Bennett, Michael Taylor. Consider carpeted platforms. Think Halston. But don’t think of Brady Bunch.
Ready to cut the rug? Here are tips for pulling off the wall-to-wall look
- For those intrigued but not quite ready to move forward, think modular. FLOR offers a range of patterns (including Mid-Century and Arts and Crafts styles) in its range of carpet tiles, which are perfect for testing carpeting in a single room or for making a rental more comfortable. And they can be changed: if a tile is damaged or if a new color inspiration arises, the FLOR builder program allows consumers to make changes without ripping everything out. Katherine Cohen, visual merchandising manager at FLOR, explains that tiles such as FLOR’s signature rug, Lunar, can be used to create new patterns of their own design.
- If you’re not ready to take the plunge, opt for an oversized rug, an option that can help you achieve the wall-to-wall look without the commitment. High-end companies like Stark and Karastan are well known for custom wall-to-wall carpet installations, but they also offer area rugs. Stylish and affordable options can be found at Annie Selke, Itemand western elm. You can compare quotes from vendors near you, and carpet companies usually offer installation as part of the purchase price. If you’re considering DIY, do some research first to get a real idea of how much work is involved. Carpet installation requires specialized tools and techniques that are usually best left to the pros.
- It’s generally a good idea to have carpets professionally cleaned once a year, and high traffic areas may require more frequent cleaning. Avoid using household cleaners to tackle stains yourself. You could damage your carpet fibers by using an abrasive cleaner or end up with permanent bleach stains. A mild 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water will work well in a pinch.
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