INTERIORS Choosing the right carpet

Red carpets rolling out

All carpets are not the same

Interior Design
Naoimh Tuohy

Some people are visual. Some are more tactile. The way we, as individuals, view the world around us is thankfully wide and diverse, and essentially what keeps things more vibrant and interesting.
So, while one person might get hung up on the aesthetics of our homes, another might concentrate on the tactile senses – how something feels, how one material works off or enhances another. Both approaches can give almost polar opposite results. The key really is to try to balance the two. Marry together what is pleasing to the eye and what feels comfortable to the touch.
Flooring, particularly carpeted flooring, is one element of interiors where it is easy to arrange such a marriage. The variety and choice available in the market is quite extensive, making it infinitely easier to get the right look with the ultimate in texture.
The only downside is the huge choice out there. It just adds to the list of decisions that need to be made when making a house a home. But breaking carpets down into categories can help shed light on what will and what won’t work for you, leaving you free to concentrate on how to get the right end product for your particular project.

Synthetic carpets

Synthetic, or man-made, carpets are very hard-wearing and particularly suitable to high levels of traffic. They’re also a cheap enough option and often the choice for rental properties due to their ability to resist stains and generally put up with more abuse than they would be subjected to in a private residence.
They do, however, have quite a synthetic feel to them and from this point of view would be far inferior to a natural product. However, it’s useful to bear in mind that acrylic or nylon carpets would have aesthetics more akin to a woollen carpet than polypropylene carpets would.

Woollen carpets
These products are naturally made and therefore usually, but not always, more expensive. They can have a very luxurious quality and when taken care of, can last a good length of time, given its durable characteristics. The feel of wool is quite warm to the touch and can most definitely add the ‘X factor’. This is especially the case with deep-pile carpets, which allow you to literally sink into them!

Half and half
Many carpets use both synthetic and natural materials. They come in different blend ratios –  the wool and synthetic content can equal (50/50) or there can be more wool with a small amount of nylon or acrylic thrown in (80/20). These blends are a slightly cheaper option than going for 100 per cent wool carpets.

A common misconception of underlay is that the thicker it is, the better for your carpet. This is not necessarily the case. The carpet should be matched to the underlay and vice versa.
Essentially, there are two reasons for using underlay. One, it helps to protect the carpet and acts as a buffer between the carpet and the subfloor. Without it, the carpet would take more of a pounding underfoot and need to be replaced far quicker. Two, it can act as a sound absorber and stop noise transfer between upper and lower floors. Underlay won’t block out the sound of feet overhead completely, but it will reduce it somewhat.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right carpet, so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you can in order to obtain as much information as possible, making it easier to make the right decision for your property and lifestyle.

Naoimh Tuohy is an interior designer based in Westport and working countrywide. Originally coming from a property background, she made the jump from valuing buildings to redesigning their interiors. She has worked freelance for the last six years and specialises in show houses, home-owner renovations and investment-property fit-outs. She can be contacted at 087 7625539.