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Photo courtesy of Brown Davis

Which Carpet Texture Works Best for Your Space?

Sometimes a bit of padding under your feet is in order. Luckily there are plenty of types of carpet textures on the market to choose from.
Roxanne Robinson Oct 07, 2020
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For years, bare floors peppered by accent rugs have dominated interior home design. That isn't to say that wall-to-wall carpet was verboten; but, now new floor concepts have been creeping back into interior designs as of late thanks to innovative new carpet textures and even for sustainability reasons.

Wall-to-wall carpeting first came into play in the 1930s. By the 1950s, every Levittown dream home and the consequent copy-cats populating American suburbs in the Post-War [baby and housing] boom would boast white picket fences corralling green lawns, modern appliances, and wall-to-wall carpeting in living rooms, bedrooms, and other multi-purpose rooms. In fact, an avant-garde application in the 1970s and 1980s was putting carpeting in bathrooms and kitchens! Thankfully, building codes put an end to that trend.

While the carpeting movement continued through the 1990s – where in fact, a home without such floor coverings was deemed lacking, the tide towards bare floors shifted as a love of old Americana aesthetics ushered in a new design mood in the early 2000s. Mass design brands such as Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware beckoned hardwood flooring to achieve the directional new look. Similarly, Italian and Spanish design influences led to popularity in terrazzo and marble floors. Urban design leanings that elevated the luxury of raw materiality, proposed polished cement floors as a design industry gold standard of flooring. Of course,  the bareness of this type of sparse floor treatment was warmed up with a nice area rug. 

But, sometimes, the whole carpeted shebang is in order. Take bedrooms and living rooms, for example. The cozy feeling a carpeted floor brings is quite popular, especially with very young and old household members who enjoy a soft touch underneath their feet or the non-slip value-add of a carpeted floor covering. 

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Photo courtesy of Brown Davis

Many of the materials used in today’s most popular carpet textures are easier to clean and maintain than their mid-century predecessors. They are also new-to-market, eco-friendly options made from sisal, seagrass, coir, organic cotton, jute, organic wool, and bamboo. The colorful and super popular FLOR felted carpet squares recently launched their Mission Zero program to eliminate any adverse effect the company has on its environment this year. It's also highly affordable. Todd Davis of Brown Davis Architecture & Interiors in Miami also prefers the use of natural fibers. "The current blends of synthetics, silk, wool, cotton, hemp, and other natural materials look great and enhance durability, and recent climate control measures make most carpet materials feasible in all sorts of climates.

Nest Casa asked top designer Davis and fellow designer Samantha Gallacher, of Art + Loom Rugs, their thoughts on some of the most popular carpet textures. Gallacher is always keen to incorporate various carpet textures into her interior design projects – naturally, as she designs them. But offered some advice on materials, "Wool is much easier to keep clean than any real or synthetic silk," explains the designer, "You can create so much luxury with the right size rug, the right materials, and the right construction." Davis adds that price isn't always the determiner either. "Carpets can be custom-made and very expensive, or they can be quite simple, high-quality stock materials that are relatively inexpensive," he adds.

Both interior designers broke down seven ket carpet textures that work in any space throughout a home:

Berber

Berber rugs give a space a unique natural feeling while being soft underfoot. They originated from North Africa and come in neutral natural colors. They are well suited to cold weather climates and would make the ideal rug for a mountain home.
- Samantha Gallacher

Berber carpeting is a somewhat traditional style looped carpet.  Traditionally Berber was used in secondary areas of the home because of durability and cost.
- Todd Davis

Level Loop Pile

This type of weave is excellent for high traffic areas and has a spotless appearance; however, it's easily pulled apart by pets. All climates would do well with this carpet texture.
- Samantha Gallacher

We use level loop piles in bedrooms for a traditional, soft look. A high-quality loop pile carpet can be used in both residential and commercial spaces.
- Todd Davis

Saxony

We don't usually call it a Saxony, we classify this as a hand-knotted rug. It is a densely woven-cut pile rug crafted with multiple knots per inch and has a rich, expensive, soft-to-the-touch feel. This carpet is an elegant style rug used in formal living rooms and master bedrooms.
- Samantha Gallacher

Saxony carpet is a medium-height cut pile; it is neither very long nor very short.  They range from a plush, velvety appearance (known as a straight Saxony) to a textured appearance (referred to as trackless). Because Saxony carpets come in various styles, they work well in both commercial and residential projects.
- Todd Davis

Cut Loop Pile

Cutting and looping pile is a way to differentiate pile height and color to create added carpet texture. It is great for any climate and any room.
- Samantha Gallacher

We are currently doing a hallway renovation project in a condo on South Beach.  A level loop pile in solution-dyed nylon would work well on a project of this type. Pattern and color can add to the simplicity. In general, we prefer to use both cut and loop piles for added interest in a space.
- Todd Davis

Sisal

Sisal is a natural fiber derived from Agave plants. It creates the ultimate beach house look. You can layer animal hides on top. It tends to be reasonably priced, so ordering them very large can work for an overscale room.
- Samantha Gallacher

We generally use sisal in spaces to create a more casual look. New sisals incorporate woven metal, leather, and other materials in various patterns. These provide a more contemporary and updated look.
- Todd Davis

Frieze or Shag

Shag carpet texture is similar to a high pile, it works best in cold weather climates in wool, but an all-silk shag with high pile works in all climates and feels great underfoot.
- Samantha Gallacher

Frieze and shag carpets are very similar if not the same in many instances.  Long fibers and dense texture characterize both. We generally use this type of carpet when we want to add a playful modern feel to a room. We have used this type of carpet in living rooms, playrooms, family rooms, and bedrooms. They add a sense of softness to a space.
- Todd Davis

Variable Height Pile

To create a modern look with interest without using significant amounts of color, you can use pile height variation. We created a collection with Lauren Williams, where we used tons of pile heights to give the feeling of a stringy carpet texture.
- Samantha Gallacher

We generally use variable height pile or 'cut and loop" carpets in commercial projects.  This type of rug is available in a variety of materials, including solution-dyed nylon. The dye technology is advanced and combined with a cut and loop texture; it provides a very upscale, luxurious, and durable look.
- Todd Davis

Roxanne Robinson
Roxanne Robinson is an award-winning Paris-based American journalist covering luxury and fashion industries with over 25 years of experience. I spent over 18 years at WWD, covering sportswear, accessories and fine jewelry. My career witnessed the shift from print media to the digital age. I gained expert knowledge of the design world, wholesale and retail markets as well as the marketing that supports them. I met endless creatives and business people who create luxury from inception to POS with the consumer. My work has appeared in Forbes.com, BoF, The Hollywood Reporter, CRFashionbook.com, The Jewelry Journal as well in-house publications and websites at Bally, Pomellato, Au Depart and Editorialist.com among others.
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