When most people think of a modern floor covering, they usually think of tiles, real wood or vinyl. Carpet is very much a traditionalist’s choice these days, but it can deliver a contemporary aesthetic every bit as impressive as its alternatives.
Carpets look and feel warm, and they simply scream comfort. Let’s face it: who doesn’t like to walk barefooted across a warm, sumptuous carpet? Carpets are great insulators, and they provide a welcome alternative to the couch when you need to stretch.
But it might surprise you to discover that the right carpet can deliver a contemporary aesthetic for a modern home. If you make the right choices, there’s no reason why you have to sacrifice comfort and warmth for style. You can have them both.
We’ve put together a guide for buying the perfect carpet for a modern home. Before you dismiss the idea of a soft and luxurious floor covering for your home, think about all of the options available to you.
One of the reasons so many people choose hard flooring is that it tends to be more durable and easier to clean than carpet. While that’s true in most cases, some fibers are more robust and low-maintenance than others.
You can identify the durability of most carpets by checking their tuft twist, density rating and face weight. The density rating should be at least 2,000, while the face weight should be at least 40 ounces. Also, look for a tuft twist of five or more.
Carpets are made from many different fibers these days, including manmade materials such as nylon, polyester, and polypropylene. However, a blended carpet of wool and one of these synthetic fibers will usually deliver several years of faithful service in your home.
Here are the most commonly-used fibers on the market today:
Nylon is durable, water-resistant and very easy to clean. It also delivers a degree of protection from permanent staining. This manmade material is soft to the touch, but it doesn’t deliver the same level of luxury you’ll get from a wool carpet. However, a short-pile carpet made with nylon can work well in a contemporary space with a minimalist aesthetic.
Polyester is even softer than nylon, but that doesn’t always bode well for durability. Polyester carpets don’t look great in traditional rooms, but they actually work well in modern spaces with neutral decor.
Wool is a beautiful material that is both durable and luxurious. It doesn’t absorb water readily, and its reasonably resistant to staining. Most importantly, nothing beats the feel of a wool carpet on the skin. However, wool delivers a uniquely traditional aesthetic, which isn’t always best for a modern space. Consider choosing a blended carpet to achieve the right look.
Polypropylene is a relatively cheap fiber that is neither particularly durable or resistant to staining. However, it possesses modern aesthetic other fibers to don’t.
Like polypropylene, Berber carpets usually feature loop pile made with a particularly thick yarn. Berber is also a relatively smooth, no-nonsense carpet that is suited to modern spaces. Not only that, it takes traffic very well — thanks to its thick and bouncy fibers.
Triexta is a relatively new fiber that is being used with increasing frequency in offices. It’s made from corn sugar, so it’s relatively cheap. The main advantages of Triexta are its anti-staining and water-resistant properties.
Choose the Right Pile
When you start searching for a carpet for your modern home, you’ll need to know whether you want a woven or tufted pile. Generally speaking, modern spaces tend to be more conducive to tufted carpets, but not always. To make the right decision, you need to know the characteristics of each pile type.
There are two main varieties of woven carpet: Axminster and Wilton. They’re both made the traditional way using loomed methods, and they’re both relatively expensive.
Wilton — Wilton is the name given to the type of loom used to weave carpet yarn. The yarn is woven in a single, continuous strand, which delivers a premium finish. But some people regard Wilton carpets as traditional, and not necessarily suited to modern spaces.
Axminster — Axminster is actually the name of the machine used to weave fibers in and out of a base material. The result is an intricately constructed carpet that is often available in a range of complex patterns and color combinations. Axminster carpets are among the most expensive on the market, and they are typically very soft, thick and velvet-like. If you’re decorating a contemporary space, these characteristics may not be what you’re looking for.
Tufted carpets are made by punching yarn into a base material. The process is quicker and requires less machinery — which is why tufted carpets tend to be cheaper. There are several types of tufted pile carpet on the market today.
Looped — Looped pile involves a series of continuous loops of fiber that are punched into a backing material. This is a relatively cheap and simple way to make an inferior fiber appear fuller.
Flatweave — Flatweave carpets are made with a combination of vertical and horizontal threads. They’re looped, but they’re often flatter than traditionally looped carpets.
Saxony — Saxony carpets feature individual fiber strands that tend to be long and thick. While soft on the feet, they flatten relatively easily. Also, they don’t complement contemporary decor all that well.
Shag — This is another deep and thick pile that is very popular in traditional homes. However, if you’re decorating a modern home with lots of traffic, this isn’t the best option.
Velvet — If you’re looking for a stylish carpet with a contemporary edge, velvet could be the answer. Short and dense, the pile looks elegant without being too brash. Available in a wide range of colors and patterns, velvet carpet is relatively flat — ideal for a minimalist aesthetic.
Twist — Twist carpets are very popular, as they’re hard-wearing and affordable. However, they’re thick and deep, and that’s not always a great combination for contemporary spaces in the home.
Choose the Right Level of Softness
Softness isn’t usually a word used to describe a modern living area. Yes, a soft carpet might be great for lying on, but it might confuse the overall aesthetic. Limit your search to short-pile carpets made with manmade fibers — or at least a combination of manmade and natural fibers.
Alternatively, you could go the other way and choose something extremely deep and luxurious. After all, a sumptuous floor covering can be a great way to relieve the monotony of clean lines and minimalism.
Plain or Patterned?
Once you know the pile and fiber you want in your modern living space, it’s time to choose on a pattern… or not… as the case may be. A patterned carpet may not sound particularly modern, but it can be in the right space. In fact, a few shapes here and there can transform a contemporary space into something more interesting.
Particularly if you have a minimalist aesthetic in the room, a patterned carpet can be used to make a bold statement. You can choose from classic motifs or ornate detailing. Alternatively, stripes might be the way to go — particularly if you’re carpeting a long, narrow space.
But if you want your carpet to play second fiddle to other decorative features or items of furniture, a plain carpet is probably best. To get the best of both worlds, however, choose something with tiny specks throughout the pile.
Be Bold in Your Color Choices
There is a common misconception that modern means neutral and subtle when it comes to furnishing a home. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. If you have a neutrally decorated space, a flash of color on the floor could be just what you need to give the room that little something extra.
Avoid the temptation to stick with neutral or pastel shades. Deep and rich reds, blues and greens can breathe new life into a modern living space, and provide a focal point. Similarly, if your room already has lots of color and texture, opt for something that’s unintrusive and modest.
Choose the Right Carpet Padding
In most cases, a contemporary space requires a relatively flat carpet, so it’s important to keep the padding underneath as thin as possible. Choose something that’s made of rubber or memory foam, but never lose sight of the aesthetic you’re trying to achieve. A soft, bouncy carpet might feel great, but it won’t necessarily complement a contemporary space.
If space experiences a lot of traffic, you’d usually be advised to choose thick padding. If this is the case, perhaps a carpet isn’t the best option after all. It may be that real wood flooring or vinyl is better suited to the room.
Sustainability is a huge part of modern construction, and an increasing number of homeowners want to continue the theme in the decoration of their home. Part of creating a contemporary living space involves using sustainable materials.
If you want to play your part, choose a carpet made with green material such as corn oil or bamboo. There are even carpets made with recycled plastic bottles. Not only do these carpets possess great insulation properties, but they also deliver a contemporary aesthetic, too.
Get Your Carpet Fitted by Professionals
Once you’ve made a choice that will enhance your modern living space, you need to ensure that the carpet is fitted with precision. A badly fitted carpet can harm the overall look for a contemporary room where everything is neat and tidy. This is why it’s always best to leave fitting in the hands of specialists such as Express Flooring.
There are many advantages associated with hiring professional carpet layers. For example, all of the additional materials are included in the price. The work is also guaranteed for several months afterward. But most importantly, you’re assured of the flat, tightly-fitted carpet that is essential for any contemporary living space.
Would a Rug and Hard Flooring Be Better?
Before you decide on a carpet for your modern home, it’s worth thinking about the alternatives. Carpets aren’t always the best way to complete a clean, minimalist space where clinical decor takes priority. Carpeting a floor from wall to wall will always soften a room — which may not be what you’re looking for. But you’ll be glad to know that there’s a great compromise.
If you want to maintain that clinical aesthetic, why not choose a tile or real wood floor? You can add a touch of depth and texture with a carefully positioned mat or rug. By consulting with the specialists at Express Flooring, you can discuss all your flooring options with the same expert. And whatever you go with, you’ll have a huge choice of floor coverings to choose from.
Make sure you explore all your carpeting options before making a decision. Ideally, check out some modern homes in showrooms, homes and on design websites. Not all carpet types are conducive to modern living spaces, but you’ll need to see them before you can decide for yourself. If you have your heart set on carpet, there are some great products for every imaginable type of room.