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Choosing and styling a bold carpet — advice from the experts

print carpet

A bold carpet can be a striking addition to any room, combining warmth and comfort with that all-important element of wow!  With so many distinctive patterns and colours available, the question is: how bold do you go?

To get some advice on choosing and styling a bold carpet so that it will suit even the most conservative home, we spoke to a selection of highly respected interior experts…

shelley

Shelley Carline

Hilary & Flo

steph

Steph Briggs

Ladida Interiors

katy

Katy Aston

Fison Zaire

Here’s what they had to say…

When it comes to choosing a carpet that will be striking yet versatile, would you suggest opting for a bold colour or print, or both?

Shelley: It very much depends how bold you want to go with the décor. If you are someone who decorates and changes the room on a regular basis, it would probably be best to choose either bold colour or print, so that it is more versatile should you want to change things up. However, if it is a carpet that is going to be an investment and will be there for some years to come, then I would go with a carpet that you love and not think too much about its versatility.

Steph: Consider the overall look of the room that you want to achieve. Maximalist styling is completely on trend at present, so you can go for it with colour and texture if that's your style. Avoid using matching colours too much, and if you're using a bold carpet colour, consider being equally as bold with the colour strength on the furniture and accessories. It depends on the function of the room but generally I go for plain over patterns as pattern can date quickly. However, I do love a classic stripe, particularly in hallways and stairways, in which case I would go for it with the colour too!

Katy: For versatility in flooring that is equally striking, opting for a carpet pattern with longevity is the key. A stripe, plaid or small-scale geometric will all give the wow factor, but are also liveable and you won’t tire of them so quickly. Also, these types of patterns normally have a few different colours within them, so the rest of the room could still be altered without the expense of changing the carpet. Many of my customers will opt for a striped carpet on the stairs or hallway for example, which is an area of the home you don’t necessarily sit in, but this allows them to be a little braver when it comes to colour and patterning and also helps to create a statement when entering the home.

white sofa

Carpets are usually long-term investments in the home, how would you suggest choosing a design that will remain current over time?

Shelley: I would choose a pattern that is not currently ‘on trend’ at that time. Classic designs such as stripes will stand the test of time and will add some impact to a room. Neutral carpets, but with pattern, will probably not date as quickly as a bright, current-trend carpet.

Steph: Choosing a classic design will give you longevity, but you should also think about how you want to feel in that room; for example, romantic florals for a soft cosy feel in a bedroom or classic baroque patterns for a larger formal sitting room. Consider the style of building; if you live in a modern new-build property then you can reflect that in the choice of pattern, if you live in a thatched cottage I would recommend a more country feel. If you live in a Victorian house you can go a little bolder as the Victorians loved a good pattern and a lot of colour and these houses often have big windows with lots of light. 

Katy: Carpets are a big investment and there is a certain amount of upheaval involved in changing them. In many projects I aim to create flow around the home—which means opting for a similar carpet throughout the home, but changing the weight of the carpet depending on the footfall. Also, the underlay is a really important factor that is often overlooked. I like to opt for ‘heathered’ carpets that have a few colours running through them, although no distinct pattern. This allows the homeowner to adapt each room to the colour palette they choose but also creates consistency throughout. They are also more forgiving of spillages and tend not to show wear and tear quite so easily—so a great option for a busy home. A stripe is a perfect way to complement plainer carpets, perhaps on the stairs and landing.

grey sofas on checked carpet

Are there any occasions where you would not recommend a bold carpet?

Shelley: I would probably not recommend a bold carpet if you are a transient decorator like me! I soon change my mind about colour schemes and room décor so like to change things on a regular basis. This could prove expensive if you are having to change the carpet every time you want to decorate! A better option would be to maybe choose a large, bold rug so that you can get used to it before investing in a carpet.

Steph: Carpets are a big investment for most homeowners and bold patterns and colours can be a little Marmite (love it or hate it), which is fine if it's your home and you love it; however, if you're looking to sell within a year of two I would err on the side of caution, as it may put off conservative potential purchasers.

Katy: I think the key to choosing a bold carpet is having a room that is big enough to take it. Rooms that are more compact with lower ceilings don’t necessarily lend themselves to big bold flooring. Although in this case you could trial it with a statement rug to test how it works.

rainbow carpet

Can you offer any ‘dos and don’ts’ on choosing a bold carpet?

Shelley: Bring home lots of samples with a wide range of coloured and patterned carpet before making your decision, and produce a mood board to see how the rest of the room will look alongside it. It will be an investment so also make sure you buy a quality material which will likely be more durable in the long term.

From my own personal experience, I would be a bit wary of choosing a dark, plain colour carpet. Although not bold, we have a dark grey carpet in our living room and I regret it every day! It shows up every single speck of dust, hair, etc and we are forever getting the hoover out. This would probably be the same if you chose a dark green or blue, for example, as they are harder to maintain than lighter colours or carpets with patterns. Also, a dark carpet will make a room look smaller so it depends if this would be an issue or not.

Steph: Go for what you love—it's your home and it should only be filled with items that you adore. Don't go for a colour just because it's in fashion now as it will date rapidly. Consider the natural light in a room at all times of the year, and the times of day you are typically in there. Also think about your lighting, do you use lamps or ceiling lights, spotlights or candlelight, how does that affect the colour? Get a sample and live with it for a few days, if you're changing the wall colour then cover a cardboard box with the paint or paper sample and sit it next to the carpet sample in the room, this will give you a better visual guide on how it will look. 

Katy: Always get samples of the carpet you are considering, they often look very different in artificial light compared to your light at home. Buy a big rug in a similar style to test how you like the look of the patterning on the floor. Remember, it will be layered up with furniture which will calm the patterning down. Be brave, if you absolutely fall in love with a carpet, consider the best place to put it in the home and make a statement. The more colours in the carpet, the more adaptable it is to different styles in the future. If you’re not quite ready for a big, bold statement, consider smaller scale textures such as geometrics or loop carpets, these will create a different look to a ‘standard’ 80-20.

Finally, we asked our experts for their advice on styling a bold carpet in an average home, here are their suggestions…

chair and lamp on carpet

Furniture

Katy: A bold carpet sets the style for the rest of the room. Furniture with legs will lift the pieces from ground level and create some separation between the bold carpet and furniture, allowing breathing space for each item.

Steph: Look at the furniture in place and consider its colour and texture against the carpet, does it co-ordinate or clash enough to make it work in the overall look of the room? Does the style fit with the pattern of the carpet? If it’s staying, furniture can often be painted rather than replaced. If the piece works well in function and overall style but needs a change of colour or tone then painting it is a quick, economic option. 

Shelley: I’d suggest simple furniture, uncluttered walls (with either a neutral colour or one that ties in with part of the pattern in the carpet), pared back furnishings and classic lighting.

colourful carpet

Wall décor and colour scheme

Steph: Start with the overall wall, the colour and texture, is it papered or painted? Do you require it to change colour? If so, then paint is the best option for a quick fix. Paint effects are a remerging trend; an ombre effect on a wall can complement a bold floor covering well, or a stripe (or multiples of) will move your eye around the room and can bring a pop of colour to otherwise plain walls. Think about your artwork, what are you planning to hang on the wall and where? 

Shelley: Bold carpets can look wonderful in an eclectic and bolder scheme by having contrasting colours in the wall décor. For a subtle approach, offset the colours/pattern in the carpet with white walls and introduce a few pops of colour in the form of cushions, wall art and furniture. 

Katy: For wall decor you could opt for more of a textured wallpaper which will complement the colours of the flooring but not detract from the patterning of the carpet.

pink wall and furniture

Soft furnishings

Katy: In soft furnishings I think it’s important to choose colours that aren’t too similar to the carpet, in order to add contrast. Also, consider selecting contrasting textures such as leather or velvet.

Steph: Soft furnishings and accessories are a great way to bring in accent colours to tie a room scheme together. Using one or two colours from a bold patterned carpet on the scatter cushions on a sofa or bed will give the room a cohesive and considered look. 

Shelley: No matter what pattern you choose, the colours should flatter the rest of your room’s design and style. If you want the carpet to be the main focal point, then I would scale back on all the other elements. 

yellow sofa

Lighting

Katy: The finishing touch will be lighting, low level lighting will help to highlight the detailing and patterning in the carpet, particularly on an evening or you could use wall lighting to balance the emphasis of the room. It all depends on what mood you’re trying to create.

Steph: Lighting is key in any room, think about both natural and artificial lights, what you use the room for, which directions the windows face and if any areas need additional light. Also have a look at your lightbulbs, these can change the tones of colours greatly, these days they come in a good range of soft, warm or bright light effects. 

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