Monday, March 31, 2008

Carpet In The News: Fun Slides Carpet Skates

Magic Carpet Ride originally uploaded by Michelle Brea.
What memories do you associate with sliding across or down slippery surfaces? Possibly at a carnival or amusement park slide, or on slippery polished floors, or maybe even on an elusive ice patch....

Do you remember that youthful thrill and delightful rush of adrenaline combined perhaps with a hoot of hilarity? Maybe even miss it?

Well, in case you yearn for those experiences and bemoan that your many carpeted surfaces prevent you from such lively diversions, I have uncovered just the product for you!

That's right. Have you heard of Fun Slides [that] Put People on the Carpet -- Literally?
Faster Than Email: Carpet Skates. He also includes a video showing how fun the FunSlides are...

This other short FunSlide carpet skates YouTube clip [subscribers, please click link to view video] does a nice job showing how FunSlides appeals to a wide range of kids at heart.

I must admit that I love the idea of something that allows you to "zip around indoors" so efficiently.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Carpet Creates 'Theatre of the Senses'

When I was small, I loved to read more than anything. A story allowed me to enter a place or a setting in a way television could never rival. My favorite books were those in which the language and the characters were so vivid I could literally see the plot unfold before me. To this day, I can still close my eyes and see those settings and characters I imagined while reading the books of my childhood. The authors may have created the story lines, but my imagination gave them life.

Part of the beauty of books, like art, is that they include an element of subjectivity. The people who experience them are free to interpret them in any way they choose; while the story itself is fairly concrete, the reader can invent additional background, scenery, imagery. Even definite descriptions are open to individual interpretation. Because of this, the reader can jump into the story head first, tumbling head over heels like Alice down the rabbit hole.

At right: illustration from Chapter 1 of Alice in Wonderland: Down the Rabbit Hole.

Only recently have I been convinced that an immersion like this can happen any way but cognitively. But, apparently, an Italian visual theatre company has developed a "theatre of the senses" that literally brings imaginary journeys to real life. The company, Teatro di Piazza o d’Ocassione (TPO), has created the Children's Cheering Carpet, "a theatrical concept in which performances are conceived as imaginary journeys in 'sensory gardens,' where artists dance to images and sounds, exploring new ways of telling stories."

This theatrical experience is all based on a large carpet fitted with sensors from below that trigger the projection of sounds and images from above. Depending on where the actors step on the carpet, a different scene or experience literally appears before them and the audience, altering both the scenery, the mood and the music. The company offers a variety of performances, including The Japanese Garden, The Italian Garden and The Painted Garden. And then, as if this weren't enough, the children in the audience are allowed to step onto the carpet and become a part of the story.

The libretto for TPO describes The Italian Garden this way: "This is a stage where an architect, a poet and a gardener create a kind of dramaturgy of the eye, where the spectator enjoys getting lost and finding her/his way again as if she/her were living inside an imaginary poem." Literally, the Children's Cheering Carpet is like walking into a piece of literature - a book, a song, even a poem.

According to a review in the Australian Stage, a publication dedicated to the performing arts in Australia, the concept for Children's Cheering Carpet was initially developed as a motor skills workshop for children with disabilities. Through the work of graphic designers, computer science engineers, musicians and the directors, this concept was eventually transformed into what it is today - an interactive theatrical experience.

I imagine a real life Secret Garden, a story that unfolds before me that I can both interact with and become a part of. It's the happiest of happily ever afters...
A scene from the Painted Garden. Photo from
A scene from the Japanese Garden. Photo from

A scene from the Italian Garden. Photo from


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Monday, March 24, 2008

The Perils of Padless Carpet

At right: Mel and Denny's new house.
Photo compliments of the happy couple.
Last night, I drove into Illinois to visit friends.

I've known Mel since high school, and she and her fiance, Denny, just closed on their first home last weekend. They walked me through their new house, so excited about their plans to paint and renovate. When we walked into the master bedroom, however, Mel wrinkled her nose.

"The people we bought the house from had wall-to-wall carpet in here, but they didn't install a carpet pad," she said. "The carpet was disgusting, so we decided to get rid of it." Although they pulled the carpet itself up, apparently Denny spent a few hours removing ONE single strip of double-sided carpet tape from the floor - a process that involved way too much Goo-Gone, a putty knife, and more energy than was necessary. And there were still about 12 room-length strips to go.

This carpet-related problem could have been avoided (and the carpet might have been saved) if the former owners simply had a carpet pad installed with their carpet. Unfortunately they didn't, so Denny was on his hands and knees, unnecessarily up to his elbows in Goo-Gone and sticky tape.

For the record, if you buy carpet, always purchase a carpet pad. Not only does it extend the life of your carpet, but according to the Carpet Guru, you could lose your warranty if you don't. "If you do not follow the manufacturer's padding guidelines, you will void your carpet warranty. It is up to the professional carpet dealer to inform you of the correct padding for each particular need," he writes.

Left: Photo of carpet cushions from This Old House.
The Carpet and Rug Institute believes that carpet cushions (the preferred term for carpet padding or underlay) have numerous benefits. "A firm and resilient carpet cushion is necessary to form a good foundation for your carpet, increasing its comfort and extending its life by acting as a shock absorber when someone walks on the carpet. The cushion, or pad, helps buffer sound and provides increased insulation, making a room quieter and warmer."

Ask The Builder's Tim Carter discusses three main types of carpet cushions. "There are three major types of carpet cushions that most homeowners recognize: fiber, sponge and foam rubber. There are different types and grades within each grouping. Thickness of cushion and weight in ounces per square yard are the yardsticks which allow you to differentiate one from another."
Of course, the carpet you buy will determine the type of cushion you need. "Residential cut pile, cut- loop, or high-level loop carpet requires a resilient, firm cushion with a thickness of 7/16" and no less than 1/4" with 6 pounds per cubic feet density," the CRI Web site states. Types of cushion may be various polyurethane foams, including the very common bonded foam product often referred to as 'rebond,' fiber, or rubber.

"Berber carpet or thinner loop or cut pile carpet is made with large, wide loops, and it has been found that a stable, low-flexing, cushion foundation is necessary. A thicker, softer cushion is not acceptable. Cushion thickness should not exceed 3/8" for these type products. Again, check with the carpet manufacturer to see if a specific cushion is required."

I was fascinated to find out that there's actually an organization specifically devoted to carpet cushions: the Carpet Cushion Council has operated since 1976 and serves as a resource for carpet cushion-related education and questions. The organization's objective is to "provide carpet retailers with tools necessary to improve communication with customers and increase overall sales." According to the Web site, carpet cushions originated early in the 1900s and were used first under area rugs. When people realized how cozy and warm cushions made carpet, they expanded their use. Now, carpet cushions under wall-to-wall carpeting are the norm, even a necessity.

In Mel and Denny's carpet situation, the Carpet Cushion Council suggests that with a separate cushion added to the carpet in the master bedroom, not only would their carpet have lasted longer, but costs (and effort) could have been reduced. "In fact, a study of carpet workrooms (professional installers) indicated that when all installation factors are taken into consideration—floor preparation, carpet installation, carpet removal, and cleaning and repair of the floor after removal—the costs of a separate cushion are significantly reduced over that of a direct glue down installation."

Who knew that such a seemingly simple cushion could have such a lasting impact?

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Carpet Exudes Sweet Emotion...

Photo courtesy of Tuftex of California.
There once was a carpet named "Sweet Emotion" and it exuded inspiration, musicality and sweet memories...

Names. Did you know that most carpets, especially the beautiful ones, receive names once they make it through the product development gauntlet? The name captures how much passion and emotion went into the carpet's creation. As does the name you give a child. It's a formal sign of adoption and introduction to the world - here, of retailers and consumers.

It tells a story. One that inevitably says something about the product's inspiration or family history.

In case you've ever wondered where those names come from - note: you can 'meet' your carpet and learn its first name by simply turning over most carpet samples - here is a tale for you!

Take Sweet Emotion by Tuftex of California. Here's the official product description:

Sweet Emotion embodies a densely constructed California Cable in an updated Color Logic color line. This handsome and luxuriously soft, casual texture is constructed with Solutia's Wear-Dated DuraSoft carpet fiber and is an outstanding addition to Tuftex's high-end DuraSoft product assortment. It features thirty-six colors that combine a natural luster, solid-color spun-yarn component with a complementary filament barber pole accent yarn. A Softbac Platinum is then added for additional softness and luxury.

Hold that in one part of your brain.

Next, listen to Greg Payne, Director of Corporate Accounts for Tuftex.

First, Greg is a passionate guy, especially about music. So passionate that he influences and encourages in others the connection to music - regardless of the conversation! Although he's surrounded by kindred musically inspired spirits, he seems often to hold the baton when it comes to naming products.

I asked him to talk me through the process.

The product - if it's right - will inevitably hit a chord and inspire connection to a song. There will be something about that chord - a feeling, a place, a time - that offers meaning through the song. A final look at the product to answer the question "does that make sense?" and - if the answer is yes - the product becomes named according to that connection.

Greg brought up a product called Tiny Dancer; a diamond pattern, it clicked with the image of a small dancer on a jewelry box, always in motion. After he told me about it, I checked out the image. And, yes, the name is perfection.

Hitting that chord requires being in harmony and being open to connections. [I sense a Zen aspect to all of this...]

In evaluating names, the products get placed on a scale from bass to treble. Do they scream "look at me!" or do they touch you deep down? The name must correspond.

Getting back to Sweet Emotion. It fits into the Frieze or Casual Texture category. It has a trend-setting quality that connects to its carpet heritage, but definitely looks forward. It exudes warmth, but also brightness.

All of those qualities relate to the chord that the song Sweet Emotion captures for Greg. It's a song he associates with high school, with fond memories, with good things. It has a nostalgic quality, but is forward-thinking at the same time.

It's a product with a good story to tell.

And it's a product worth becoming acquainted with. Look for Sweet Emotion at carpet retailers around the county, and for closely related products at the following retailers:

+ Carpet One Floor & Home ask for Kelsey,
+ at Flooring America and Flooring Canada look for Cross Trace [a picture of the color line is attached here]
+ at ProSource Wholesale Floorcovering showrooms look for Sentiment
+ at Abbey Carpet & Floor, ask for Scarborough
+ at Floors To Go, check out Esprit.

May carpet inspire you as it has Greg Payne and his associates at Tuftex!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pray Tell: What is a Frieze Carpet?

You're considering carpet styles, and someone tells you about 'friezes' [pronouncing it 'fre-zays' as opposed to 'freezes' from ancient roman architecture]. What comes to mind?

I had never heard of the term until I joined the Wear-Dated carpet fiber group. I had to have someone [actually a couple of someones] show me what it meant.

For this post, I asked our Wear-Dated group for perspective on the carpet style [which Elizabeth refers to in The Carpetology Guide to Buying Carpet: Step 2 - Options & Decisions] itself as well as an explanation for the name.

The best story - and the one I'm sticking with - comes from Greer Leisz, our Regional Manager in the Central Region who says:

"The story I've heard about is that the term Frieze comes from the dog breed Bichon Frise (being a dog lover, I love this explanation). The idea is that frieze carpet looks like the curly coat of a Bichon Frise dog (see attached photo). "

[Now, I have not yet run to ground how the 'frise' in Bichon Frise became 'frieze.' Maybe just for phonetics? I'll let you know if I come across anything credible.]

Friezes belong to a sub-category of textures that you might call 'Twists' which includes Shags and Cables. Shags and Cables being extreme versions [i.e., longer] of a Frieze. I'll show examples of those in a future post.

Our official description of a Frieze [from the Wear-Dated website] is as follows:

Highly twisted yarns give frieze carpets a contemporary look and make them a smart choice for any active part of your home. Best of all, they're less likely to show vacuum marks or footprints than other cut pile styles.

What we've found is that what some people call a Frieze, others might call something else [e.g., a tight twist texture, a casual texture or even a cable/shag, a California cable or a short shag].

Rick Jose, our Middle America Regional Manager, considers a true Frieze to be "a thin yarn system with a tight twist and a kink at the end of the yarn stalk that looks squiggly." [Okay, maybe not the most fashiony image, but we're trying to establish a consistency of vision here for a Frieze. Can you 'see' what he means?]

Tom Menzel, our Western Regional Manager, describes Frieze as "a carpet with such a tight twist that the yarn is curling over; you walk on the sides instead of the tips of the yarn."

Frieze styled carpet is popular around the country. In addition to being more contemporary in feel, it's considered a practical choice for active households. Especially if the specific style includes berber flecks or barber pole accent yarns [i.e., two different colors of yarn twisted together like a barber pole] which can help mask or camouflage stains.

Frieze is really hot in the West and less so in the NorthEast - which prefers a more traditional looking textured carpet. [Interestingly, the Northern New Jersey carpet store I visited carried quite a few Friezes or casual textures and they looked good!] The Midwest and Central regions are closer in enthusiasm level to the West.

Greer explains that in the Central Region, "Friezes are evolving away from the real tightly curled (spaghetti) looking friezes and towards something not so tightly twisted." To me, that sounds more texture-like. [As soon as I get photos, I'll share them with you in a separate post.]

In case you are interested in colors, the Regional Managers say that currently in the West, neutrals, greens, golds and bronzes are strong. In the NorthEast, it's mostly muted tones without any kind of luster or shine and lots of beiges [Don't go by my atypical NorthEastern choices; I've either replaced my beiges with distinct colors or covered over any remaining beige with colorful area rugs!].

In terms of specific Wear-Dated Frieze products that are currently available in retail stores, check out:

+ Horizon's Granita
+ Karastan's Cabarita
+ Gulistan's Currydale
+ Tuftex's Sweet Emotion [which features a complementary barber pole accent yarn]

So, now you know as much as I do about Friezes!

As new Friezes or casual textures become available [and I get photos], I will feature them here - up close and personal!

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Green Around The World

Top of the Morning to ya and a very happy St. Patrick's Day, too!

Given the Irish flavor of the day, and the proximity to Spring, we thought we would share with you Green color inspiration -- from around the world. It comes courtesy of Ann Hurley, Woman of Wear-Dated and Ultron carpet fiber color expert, who lives and breathes color and product trends.

Green has always been associated with nature and Spring. Eventually, as an understanding of science evolved, green became associated with rebirth.

In our culture, a 'green thumb' indicates a talent to grow beautiful healthy plants and flowers.

Modern pop culture has taken on the color green -- think Jolly Green Giant, the Incredible Hulk, Kermit the Frog [remember the song "Bein' Green"?], Shrek -- we're left to speculate on 'why green' for these characters!

When Sir Isaac Newton discovered the color spectrum in the 18th century, his findings confirmed that green was actually blue and yellow combined.

Consider the newest connotation of green -- in the global culture -- "going green"... means making changes in established habits to reduce pollution and waste to protect the environment.

The color green maybe traced back to the time of Muhammad, where in classical language green was associated with nature and vegetation. Per Wikipedia, Islam "venerates" the color green."In Arabic, the words for green, nature, and vegetation all have the same root meaning. Green clothing and houses painted green indicate that the inhabitants have made a pilgrimage to Mecca.

In ancient Egyptian times, green malachite was a symbol of joy. Egyptian paints were often made from the expensive pigment of pure ground malachite.

In China, jade represents virtue and beauty and was used for delicate carvings and scarab jewelry.

In Tibet, green is considered to be the color of corpses and used for anything pertaining to the Buddhist kingdom of death.

In France, the brilliant green colored absinthe was first used in the 1790s as a cure-all. In the mid-1800s its use shifted from medicinal to adult beverage.

This liquor [you may recognize the brand name, Pernod] was served as a drink in Parisian cafes generating the name for the 5pm cocktail hour as the "green hour." It turns an opalescent white when mixed with water... and makes the drink called Pastis.

In Ireland, the color green has been adopted by the entire country and symbolizes luck as well as its verdant countryside [which hopefully can be preserved despite sobering weather related concerns].

In Celtic myths, the god of fertility was often referred to as the "Green Man."

In the U.S. around 1860, paper currency was created to help pay for the Civil War. It's not known why the color green was selected as the color of money other than the pigment was readily available in large quantities and resisted the efforts of counterfeiters to make physical or chemical changes to the currency.

The new money became known as "Green backs".

Color Trivia Question: What was the color of camouflage used in port cities in the Civil War?

The historic color is known as Charleston Green - it's made of nine parts black with one part green. You'll see it today on park benches, wrought iron gates, shutters, doors and light posts in the historic downtown areas.

According to folk tales handed down from those times, during the Civil War, the steeples of many churches and other landmarks were painted this color to camouflage and protect the port from the Union bombardment.

We wish you wonderful green inspiration. And, to your 'Top of the Morning to ya', we say:

And the rest of the day to you!

Previous post in this series:
+ Red Around The World

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Smart Carpet: Your Key To Survival

Lightbulb originally uploaded by minxlabs.

This may come as a shock, but we aren't getting any younger.

As a matter of fact, the entire country isn't getting younger. For the first time ever, we have more people over the age of forty than ever before! Interesting to contemplate what that means from a multitude of perspectives.

Think of the implications for how we live - and will live in the future - as well as what we require to make life more delicious physically.

I'm more physically aware of what creates comfort. My body reacts differently after working in the kitchen standing on hard tile than it does standing on carpet [for an extreme example, think of standing for seven hours on concrete in a convention hall...]. Sometimes, I set up a seated work station to compensate.

Carpet, especially a thick, plush carpet with a heavenly dense pad offers my body comfort. And I'm grateful. It cushions. It compensates for lousy knees and beat up joints. It provides warmth during frigid winter and overly air-conditioned summer days. It's very friendly. And, now, it's even friendlier and more comforting.

How? By contributing to a first response system and preventing death!

That caught my attention...

Here's the story: MU Researchers Creating "Smart" Carpet for Safe Senior Living.

According to government statistics, falls represent the leading cause of death for us as we get older. And falling can happen pretty easily. I see my six year old daughter doing it routinely. She catches her foot on something [usually something she left on the floor, like a crayon or a shoe], she doesn't watch where she is going, doesn't hold onto the banister as she goes down the stairs. Nothing major. But it happens.

I do the same thing. I just don't recover quite as quickly or gracefully. And, at some point down the road, I'll be more susceptible to hurting myself.

The solution is a "smart carpet that would electronically monitor a senior's location and sound an alert in the event of a fall" as Steve Pounds describes in A smarter carpet to catch a senior's fall from the Austin American-Statesman. It's a project that University of Missouri professor Harry Tyrer has embraced with MU nursing associate professor Myra Aud.

Vicki Hodder describes Tyrer's project in more detail in Building a “smart” carpet for safer living. The idea of creating an "unobtrusive monitoring system that will increase the safety of seniors and improve their ability to live independently" is a big deal.

Per the release, "Tyrer and Aud’s smart carpet project incorporates a new type of sensor that can be printed on thin, flexible sheets using what is known as “organic ink.” Organic ink sensors are not only flexible, but potentially inexpensive making it practical to use them by the thousands on a sensor sheet layered between a room’s carpet and carpet pad."

"Tyrer is developing circuits that will feed the sensor sheet’s signals several times a second to a computer for display and electronic analysis. Ideally, a caregiver will be able to see where a person steps on a smart carpet, assess that person’s gait and act immediately if the person falls."

Vannah Shaw's Smart carpet senses falls from the Columbia Missourian offers some additional details as does Smart Carpet Can Help Seniors Who Fall and Can't Get Up.

I was curious what other options were around and after a Google search found a Belgium article about Sensor carpet and knitted wall decoration with electroluminescent yarns for senior’s flat. It describes "knitted sensors and conductive yarns on the carpet’s backing that are entirely made from textile yarns. The entire surface of the carpet is activated by low voltage and functions as a kind of electric switch. The pressure of the person walking or falling on the carpet activates one or more sensors that are applied over the entire carpet backing."

Imagine getting up in the middle of the night and, as you step on your carpet, a low level night light comes up to guide you to the kitchen for a cookie snack. Definitely practical!

Then, I found this link from 2003: Smart carpet can spot fires, steer feet and sell beer. Although geared more toward monitoring building stresses and guiding traffic, it too demonstrates potential for survival.

I'm keeping my eye on smart carpet! How 'bout you?

Note: Making A Magic Carpet from in a 5/4/2008 article by Angie Bailey updates this story, including some nifty photos. [Added 5/12/2008]

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Monday, March 10, 2008

A Guide to Carpet Installation

carpet tools originally uploaded by Buddy Stone.
Carpet installation. It's what makes or breaks that magical vision you've been carrying in your mind ever since you began contemplating whether to change your carpet or not.

It's what you physically have no control over unless you're an installer yourself.

It's what you hope your retailer takes very seriously.

It's also what you can't evaluate until after the job is done and the carpet fully installed in your home.

As grim as things might seem, we have installation tips to increase the likelihood that you will be so delighted with your carpet installation, that not only will you tell everyone you know how happy you are, but you will also quickly decide to replace every other carpet in your home. You know, the ones you've been holding off on!

First, facts:
+ How well your carpet is installed will definitely affect how beautiful your carpet looks and how well it performs in your home. You absolutely want a carpet that is seamed and stretched properly!

+ If installation guidelines aren't followed, one consequence is that your carpet may wrinkle and buckle. If wrinkles and buckles aren't corrected, they can cause your carpet to wear prematurely.

This is but one example of why you should work closely with your retailer to make sure that your installation job is well planned, estimated and coordinated with the installer.

Your retailer will either have installers on staff or installers s/he works with on a contract basis. If your retailer can't provide a qualified installer, you may want to consider another resource...

Ask your retailer if the installer s/he uses is certified by the CFI (Certified Floorcovering Installers), FCIB (Floor Covering Installation Board), WFCA (World Floor Covering Association), or CRI (Carpet & Rug Institute). If the answer is no, I would suggest finding another retailer to work with.

Once you are comfortable with your retailer's installation process, put together a plan that you can review again with the installer before the job begins.

The plan should include the following points in writing:
+ Accurate measurements showing roll direction and seam placement, as well as details in areas requiring special consideration such as stairs and closets. Discuss the least visible placement for seams. Most installations will have at least one seam, and no seam is invisible [i.e., think of a sewn garment seam]. Also, ask about matching patterns if you chose a patterned carpet.

+ Explanations of planned execution where the new carpet will transition to other flooring surfaces such as ceramic, hardwood or other existing carpet.

+ An analysis of the sub-floor surface. Your installer will need to make certain the floor is consistent and level enough to accept new carpet. Even minor unevenness can become apparent once the new carpet is laid. If you are aware of any insect or water damage, consider having that repaired as soon as possible so it doesn't delay the installation of your carpet. This is also the appropriate time to have any squeaks, loose floorboards, etc. repaired.

+ Confirm how the carpet will be stretched: manually or with a power stretcher? The Carpet & Rug Institute [CRI] recommends that carpet be stretched using a power stretcher and not knee kicked especially for carpet installed over a separate cushion. That prevents bubbling and wrinkling later.

+ Insist that the installer follow the carpet manufacturer instructions and/or those detailed in the Standard for Installation of Residential Carpet, CRI 105 [I suggest that you read at least pages 4-11], including that seam edges be sealed with an appropriate adhesive to prevent delamination and edge ravel.

+ Who will move the furniture and where? Specifically discuss unusually large or delicate pieces. You may be responsible for moving certain items, or charged for moving others. Expect the entire room to be cleared, including drapes, wall hangings, breakables and electronics.

+ Who will remove existing carpet? Who will dispose of old carpet and padding? [Note: Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), a joint industry-government effort that Solutia is a member of], is working hard to increase the amount of recycling and reuse of post-consumer carpet and reduce the amount of waste carpet going into landfills.]

+ Identify a clear path for the installers to get the carpet roll into the room. Carpet rolls can be between 12 and 15 feet long, so installers will need plenty of room to maneuver.

Other items for you to anticipate - as a consumer - from the Carpet and Rug Institute's Installations Tips and Facts:

+ Before carpet installation, finish any all and all other remodeling projects [e.g., painting and wallpapering]. Vacuum the old carpet to prevent airborne dust and dirt. Then, once the carpet and cushion are removed, vacuum the sub-floor.

+ When the carpet is delivered, check whether the texture, style and color are correct and that you see no visible defects before installation.

+ Be aware that, if you select a thicker carpet than the one you are replacing, your new carpet may prevent doors from opening/closing. Anticipate that you will need to have them trimmed. Your installer may have to remove doors and will rehang them if possible.

+ Be sure to circulate fresh air during installation. Open windows and doors, use an exhaust fan or operate the fan of your heating or air conditioning system. The “new carpet smell” will clear very quickly, usually in less than 72 hours.

+ In the months after installation, you may see shedding or sprouting. This is normal. Here’s what to do:

* Shedding— regular vacuuming.
* Sprouting— [this is a single tuft that extends beyond the carpet’s surface] clip it off. Do not pull it out.

+ You may also notice pile reversal or shading, especially with a plush carpet. Also normal! This is caused by light reflecting in different ways as the pile fibers bend in different directions.

+ If you see wrinkling, or ripples, immediately call your retailer. Your carpet may need to be professionally restretched.

+ If at all possible, try to keep some of the larger pieces of carpet leftover from the installation. You never know when you might need them.

If you have any additional questions, contact your retailer.

The Dabbieri blog in { Tips For Great Carpet Installation } suggests that you verify that your in-home temperature is appropriate for installation. Check page 10 of the Standard for Installation of Residential Carpet, CRI 105 for specifics, as well as with your retailer!

By the way, if you are working with a top-notch retailer, s/he will anticipate your concerns and questions.

And, if you come across any other good tips to include in this guide, please let me know.

PS: Tom Jennings, carpet installation expert and former retailer, was kind enough to review this article for accuracy. Thank you, Tom!

For a retailer's perspective on how important installation is to the overall carpet retail experience, read Tom Jennings: Installation Is Not a Dirty Word from the recent Surfaces 2008 show.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

The Carpetology Guide to Buying Carpet: Step 2 - Options & Decisions

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

When last we met, you were in need of carpet. Now that you've done your research, you're a little more prepared, a little less apprehensive, and maybe even excited about this latest change in your home's decor.

Step two in the carpet buying process is The Big Decision. What kind of carpet is best for your home? As the Wear-Dated Web site says, this is the point where you must know your needs. You can find a visual reference for all of the following carpet types here at

Image originally uploaded by CottageDaily.
Scenario A: Perhaps you have three children, a dog and a cat. The kids are frequently running in and out of the house, often bringing friends in and out with them. The dog especially likes carpet for naps and "burying" his toys. And the cat sheds. A lot. You need to replace the carpet in your family room, but this replacement requires something that will stand up to all that running, napping and shedding and will still look like you care about your home's decor.

If you're feeling trendy, you might want to try a frieze. Similar in appearance to the famous (infamous?) shag, the frieze consists of highly twisted yarns that look casually contemporary. Friezes don't show vacuum marks or footprints so they're ideal for high traffic areas. Plus, they're oh-so-cozy for spreading out and relaxing on family movie night.

If you're feeling confident, give level loop carpet a try. Many people think loop carpet is called berber, but in reality, berber refers to the speckled coloration of a carpet, not its style [as Christine cautions in The Latest in Carpet Style Trends, beware those looped berbers made of olefin]. Composed of a continuous surface of uncut fibers, loop carpet is incredibly durable, and will provide the resilience you need with all those feet and paws in your home. If you want more of a sophisticated look, try a cut and loop style with an interesting pattern or striation. More and more, you can easily find strong, lasting carpet in modern designs that enhance the home.

Color and Fiber Considerations: Web site ehow reminds us that lighter carpets show dirt, but darker carpets show lint and lighter specks. "Think about the lifestyle of your household. If you have four budding young athletes and three puddle-loving retrievers, you'll need a more forgiving color, pattern and fiber than the empty-nesters who live next door." The site also says that "stains and bits of litter will hide best on a carpet with multiple colors, such as a speckled or tweedy mix, or one with a texture that creates shadows." This WFCA video covers some key factors in carpet buying - it's worth a glance before you make any decisions.

Image originally found on
Scenario B: You and your significant other live on a lovely tree-lined street just inside the city limits. You enjoy the quiet and the solitude of your home, and you occasionally host dinner parties in your formal dining room. You decide that it's time for a change in flooring and want a carpet that will look and feel luxurious.

If you're feeling especially decadent, look first to
velvet carpet. Smooth and elegant, plush carpet connotes luxury, the ultimate in comfort, and a certain formality. You want your guests to have the ultimate in cushioning under their feet and without children or pets in the picture, you don't have to worry about excessive wear and tear. Velvet carpet shows every footprint, but since you can afford the luxury, why worry?

If you're feeling just as decadent but a little more cautious,
saxony carpet will suit your needs. Not quite as smooth as velvet, saxony is still deliciously soft but shows fewer footprints. "Saxony is less formal, with individual strands of yard twisted together and heat set," says Bob Vila. "Saxony's texture is varied and irregular, in contrast to plush's [velvet's] uniform appearance."

Color and Fiber Considerations: "An important consideration about carpet color is that once a carpet is installed in a new home, it will often look lighter than the sample you saw in the store. This is a natural optical effect and you should be aware of this when making a carpet color selection," says the WFCA. "Another thing to keep in mind is how the color of carpet affects the apparent size of the room. Lighter colored carpet will usually visually expand the room. Darker carpeting will seem to bring the walls closer together, and create a more intimate feeling." For a formal room, since there will be little traffic to track in dirt and dust, feel free to go with a carpet on either end of the color spectrum depending on the mood you want to set.

Image originally uploaded by Little Minx.
Scenario C: You and your family are moving into a new house. Each of the three bedrooms has hardwood flooring, but you’d like to carpet them to conserve heat in the winter. You don’t need anything fancy, just carpet that will last and look and feel comfortable.

First of all, check out cable carpet. When most people think carpet, they think cable. Characterized by fat, nubby yarns, cable carpet is comfortable and soft on the tootsies while still pleasing to the eyes. And it’s reasonably priced so you won’t break the bank while carpeting three rooms.

If you’re feeling a bit more luxurious, try a textured saxony. A step up in softness, textured saxony carpets are available in the widest range of colors and don’t show as many footprints or vacuum marks as true saxony carpets.

Color and Fiber Considerations: ehow suggests the following: "Consider the room's function: Carpet in a rough-and-tumble family room or frequently used dining area should probably be chosen for hard-wearing, soil-hiding and stain-resistant capabilities. In a bedroom or seldom-used formal living room, you can get away with a pale color and a fiber that needs more pampering. "

Last but not least, you'll need to consider the actual carpet fiber: wool? nylon? olefin? Look for a post from Christine soon on this topic.

So what are your needs? Are you looking for durability, luxury, or practicality? Regardless, there’s a carpet out there for you and your family – hopefully this helps you make your decision.

Join us for the next installment of
The Carpetology Guide to Buying Carpet when I take a trip to some local St. Louis carpet stores.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Women of Carpet Design

Once there was a girl who could make glorious carpets from wool tinted with the essence of orange safflowers and pomegranates…”

If you haven’t heard of this wonderful first novel, The Blood of Flowers, I urge you to take a tour of the Blood of Flowers website. You will be mesmerized by Anita Amirrezvani's story telling. Her perspective of seventeenth century Iran is informed by her own heritage – born in Iran, and educated in the U.S., she came of age in 1979 during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. It’s evident in the way she affectionately crafts the details of her story that Amirrezvani has a deep and abiding love of the historical culture of her country of birth, and that she is as much an artist as the character she depicts.

The story is of a young girl anticipating marriage in seventeenth century Iran. With the unexpected death of her father and without a dowry, she and her mother leave the home and village they know, to join the Isfahan household of an uncle, as servants. The uncle is a carpet designer to Shah Abbas the Great and thus begins the story of a young girl whose talent for carpet design leads her into a world previously occupied by men. Though difficult, the life she eventually builds for herself and her mother is one of her own choosing rather than one dominated by the whim of others.

I was entranced by the sights and sound described by Amirrezvani – the architecture of medieval Persia, the exotic fruits and spices of the bustling bazaars, and the centuries old rituals that were the very essence of that ancient culture. Even more, I was fascinated by the heroine’s awakening to the beauty and possibilities of the dyes and the yarns she discovered under her uncle’s guidance in the Shah’s carpet workshop. As she learned the meanings of the thousand ancient patterns used in Persian rugs she quickly began to experiment with her own designs and color combinations.

One particular passage struck me – “Look how the sparkling gold lightens the density of the pattern. Notice in particular how the dull tones – the faded green, the humble beige, the pale blue – emphasize the beauty of the more brilliant colors…”

I’ve heard these very kinds of descriptions from some of the women I encounter everyday in the world of modern carpet design. While their studios are luxurious compared to the carpet workshops of medieval Persia, and state-of-the-art technology has replaced hand knotting to create spectacular designs, these women are surely gifted in their talent for carpet design. They have an innate instinct for combining just the right carpet construction, pattern, and color combination to create rich texture, luscious color and timeless appeal. Our heroine found inspiration in the architecture and culture of ancient Persia. Our modern day designers find inspiration in everything from architecture, to nature to modern technology itself.

Over the next few weeks I’ll introduce you to some of the women who design carpet today. They are unique individuals who envision design possibilities in everything they observe. Each of their creations is born of an individual perspective. As unique as their perspectives and interpretations may be, they all share one thing….a passion for the yarns, the colors and the patterns they use as the tools of their craft - carpet design.

I hope you have a chance to read the book, and I look forward to introducing you to some of the women of modern carpet design.

Note: This link will take you to an interview with Anita Amirrezvani, author of THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS.

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Monday, March 3, 2008

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up...or Hollywood's Impact on Design

Oscar Eve - Red Carpet originally uploaded by mikewakin.

Since we're interested in carpet of all kinds here at The Carpetology Blog, it would be a shame to let the biggest red carpet awards show of the year slip through our fingers without recognizing Hollywood's impact on design. Sunday night, February 24, was the 80th annual Academy Awards, perhaps the biggest event in the entertainment industry until it rolls out again next year.

Somehow, in spite of the number of red carpet events throughout the year, the Oscars still exude the very essence of glamour and Old Hollywood sophistication. This is the night the movie stars come out -- not the over-hyped celebrities with their purse puppies. The Academy Awards have a rich tradition dating back to 1929 that includes the most esteemed and talented individuals in the motion picture industry. Visit both and for the history of the Academy and its most glamorous event. [For more Oscar trivia try, a site that film critic Roger Ebert has often referenced in his critiques. It's full of delicious Oscar facts, including Academy Awards winners by decades and years, movie posters, quotes and trivia.]

Below: Bette Davis on the red carpet at the Academy Awards in 1936. Photo courtesy of

Although the true glamour of Old Hollywood rarely makes an appearance these days, there are a few people who still make an effort to keep it alive. Kelly Wearstler, a high-end interior designer, was recently featured in Hollywood Regency Style Walks the Red Carpet in Today’s Polished Interiors, an article by Stacy Downs of the Kansas City Star. All about the "Hollywood Regency" style of design, Wearstler gets Hollywood glamour.

Below: a watercolor by decorator Mark Hampton of a library designed by Billy Baldwin for Cole Porter. Classic Hollywood Regency! Originally uploaded by Style Court.

When I first read the article, I wasn't familiar with the term 'Hollywood Regency'. But when you read its descriptions and visit Kelly's Web site, you're instantly transported to an earlier time, when slender cigarette holders were the height of sophistication, Edith Head still designed costumes, and people knew that MGM stood for the venerable film studio of Metro Goldwyn Mayer. For visual cues, think movies like the Thin Man series or Rebecca.

Characterized by such accents as animal hides, art deco furniture, lacquered finishes and baroque frames, Hollywood Regency is a blend of 1930s movie star glamour, mod graphics, and a "dash of bold whimsy," according to the article. "Broken down, 'Hollywood' is the ornate, glamorous part of the style. 'Regency' refers to the architectural period of the early 1800s, a return to classic lines such as Greek columns."

HGTV's blog, Design Happens, describes Hollywood Regency as it would a woman: "A more justified summation of her aesthetic would be to refer to her as a 'lifestyle' rather than simply a 'look-of-the-moment, 'Hollywood Regency embodies a spirit of living rather than the return to a specific type of design or a specific point in time. She's a way of life where people are truly living in the moment, and not distracted with text-messaging during dinner, or living a life where quality time together equates to quiet time in front of a television during premiere week."

It sounds luxurious in a comfortable sort of way, does it not?

The Kansas City Star article reminds us not to forget Dorothy Draper, William Haines and Billy Baldwin, all interior designers from the 1920s and 1930s whose work defined Hollywood Regency. [William Haines was actually a movie star before becoming an interior designer.] Each of these designers helped to transition the look of the time from heavy and dark to new and fresh, completely altering how people perceived interior design.

A William Haines room from William Haines Design. Photo courtesy of

Needless to say, the spirit of Old Hollywood is alive and well - in design!


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