Friday, October 31, 2008

Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Critical Resources For When You're On The Go [Carpet Shopping?]

Today wraps up Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Cleaning Up Forgotten Spaces Around Us. This week has been a great experience, reminding all of us both participating and reading that ladiesrooms make a big impression on us as both consumers and human beings. Before we conclude the 'Fest, I wanted to introduce you to a few fun bathroom Web sites. Feel free to use these to locate the best (and stay far away from the worst) public restrooms for when you're on the go -- while carpet shopping perhaps!



Described as "the best of the best public restrooms from across America as voted on by the Internet Public," this Web site allows you to nominate a restroom, explore the America's Best Restroom Hall of Fame or read about the current ABR, Hermitage Hotel in Fairfield, OH. The contest is in its seventh year and is sponsored by CINTAS, a provider of restroom hygiene products and services.

Here, you can locate and rate restrooms anywhere in the world. They even have an iPhone app so you can rate on the go. Should you sit or should you squat? It's up to you to decide...


Clever and useful! "MizPee finds the closest, cleanest toilets in your area. You can add and review toilets, get some cool deals in your area and challenge your knowledge of toilet trivia." You can even access MizPee on the go, simply by entering your cell phone number and carrier. Or, if you're in Europe, check out MizPee's You're-a-Peein' site...


This site offers a full search of bathrooms in over 120 countries, including 9,000 locations in the United States. Read a multitude of travel essays on bathroom experiences around the world (Tawdry Tales of Tacky Toilets), nominate an exceptional restroom for a Golden Plunger, or add a bathroom to the list of good or bad.

We wish you well on all your journeys - here's to locating a clean bathroom along the way so you can enjoy carpet and other shopping!




Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Art of Living

Today's installment of Bathroom Blogfest '08 reading material comes to you from downtown St. Louis. No, we're not discussing Busch Stadium again; we're talking about the Art of Living building, just a few blocks south. You may remember it from A Foot's Perspective: Episode 5. My company, Hughes, moved to this space about a year and a half ago from a very corporate office location. We now share the building with a variety of other businesses, some big, some small, and we all have the same common spaces - kitchens, conference rooms, couches, media rooms, etc.

The Art of Living building was quite a change for us when we moved here. It's all exposed brick and wooden beams, cool and rustic and hip - very Hollywood ad agency. When you walk in the front door, you're introduced to a massive two-story lobby, complete with a two-sided fireplace, various seating areas, and a seven foot fish tank - it's all very cool but a little intimidating.

Initially, the lobby wasn't very welcoming. Without carefully planned details, such a large space can seem cold and empty, especially with the reception desk all the way across the room from the front door - that's a long way to walk as your footsteps hollowly echo around the room. Sure, the design was interesting and modern, but it seemed... forgotten. There weren't even fish in the fish tank for a full year after we moved in.

But recently, Anthony, Allen & Quinn, the owner of the Art of Living, made a few improvements to the lobby that really impact the way visitors view the building. They're not big changes, but they're big enough, making a once slightly chilly experience much more warm and cozy.
  • Guests can help themselves to hot coffee after they check in at reception.

  • A broad selection of magazines and reading materials (Rolling Stone, anyone?) wait for perusal.

  • Actual fish now populate the fish tank. They're colorful, fascinating and fun - a great conversation starter or point of interest.

  • Classical music softly soothes visitors as they wait for meetings and appointments.

And then of course, there's the ladies room. Inside, there's enough room to do a little soft shoe dance routine. Each stall is its own room with its own wooden door - no awkward stall doors to contend with. The floor is a dark slate, and the counter tops are a very modern concrete. It's a good bathroom experience. Maybe even a great one. The bathroom downstairs even has a shower and lockers - just in case you feel like using the gym across the hall before work.

You can read more about the Art of Living Building here at UrbanSTL.com [I found the bathroom image there along with a myriad other good shots] or in this article from the St. Louis Business Journal.

What about you? What's the bathroom experience like where you work? And does it detract from the work environment? Keep us posted - we'll be here all week!



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Great Flooring Store Examples

Today, in honor of Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Cleaning Up Forgotten Spaces Around Us, I want to showcase delightful flooring stores with fantastic bathrooms.

What's your take on store bathrooms? Do you consider them the same way I do? A sort of litmus test for stores you can take seriously? Doesn't an unkempt bathroom send strong signals about what to expect from that store? And, doesn't a beautiful one delight you to no end?

Here are a few stores that I hope you will find as delightful as I have.

I recently featured this first flooring store in The Carpetology Blog. Perhaps you read the post? It's titled Atlanta Flooring Design Centers: Passionate About Customers. [I hope you don't mind, but I purposely didn't include these photos in that writeup. I wanted to save them to share with you during Bathroom Blogfest '08.]

These two photos come from the men's and women's rooms on the ground floor of the Suwanee, GA store. Above, in a blue theme is the women's room. Note the tile work [I love the mosaic border], the colors and the wavy glass sink. This space is deliciously soothing.

The men's room features a nifty waterfall faucet that I could have spent hours watching. Check out the tile pattern and how it complements the granite counter so perfectly. I love that the color scheme differs so much from that of the ladiesroom.

Note that both offer support bars around the toilet area. Practical, but also amazingly inspiring -- in terms of ideas to consider for your home, and what to expect from this store. What a great way to showcase what this store can do!

These next two photos come from a recently renovated and redesigned store in Webster, TX called My Flooring America. I had the opportunity to visit it in January 2008 and love the detail that I found in the bathroom.

Isn't the tile work fun? Don't you love that it's asymmetrical? Both of these photos come from the same bathroom.

I've featured other flooring stores in previous Bathroom Blogfests. If you'd like to read about them, here are links.

During the first Bathroom Blogfest in 2006, I included several flooring stores. My favorite is Aggieland Carpet One in College Station, TX. The owners, Claudia and Ron Smith, are really special people and their store is outstanding!

During last year's Bathroom Blogfest, I described Michigan Tile & Carpet. They've created a fabulous bathroom experience, worth checking out if you're in that area!

As with hotel rooms, so too in great flooring retail stores can you find inspiration. Inspiration for fashion and style ideas, and for attention that will have you wanting more. These are not forgotten spaces.

Thank you for reading.

Visit the Bathroom Blogfest Community [BBC] for Bathroom Blogfest ’08 updates:

Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads
Katia Adams at Transcultural Marketing
Shannon Bilby at Floor Talk!
Laurence Borel at Blog Till You Drop
Jo Brown and the blogging team at Kohler Talk
Lisbeth Calandrino at Lisbeth Calandrino
Sara Cantor at The Curious Shopper
Becky Carroll at Customers Rock!
Katie Clark at Practical Katie
Iris Shreve Garrott at Circulating
Ann Handley at Annarchy
Marianna Hayes at Results Revolution
Elizabeth Hise and C.B. Whittemore at The Carpetology Blog
Maria Palma at Customers Are Always
Sandra Renshaw at Purple Wren
Kate Rutter at Adaptive Path
Claudia Schiepers at Life and its little pleasures
Carolyn Townes at Becoming a Woman of Purpose
Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology
C.B. Whittemore at Flooring The Consumer






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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bathroom Blogfest '08 - How Hotels Inspire Me

By now, you must know that I like to take A Foot's Perspective. It offers me a view of what's often forgotten or overlooked. In so doing, I inevitably discover something inspiring, particularly in hotels! That's why, in honor of Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Cleaning Up Forgotten Spaces Around Us, I plan here on sharing with you inspiration from hotels.

Unfortunately, too many hotels are essentially forgotten places that need major cleaning up in literal and figurative terms. They suffer from lack of imagination and forced utilitarianism that would numb body and soul if you were to spend more than a night.

Rather than dwell on those poor lost examples, I prefer to highlight some of the hotels that have delighted me in their stylishness. Not only were their bathrooms unusual, but their carpet style and pattern choices inspired me to no end!

The photo above comes from the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, MO. Yes, the quarters were cozy, but every detail added to the visual interest of the space. Don't you love the combination of the rectilinear carpet pattern with the organic bedspread pattern?

These next two photos come from the DoubleTree Hotel in Chicago.

I am just mad for the polka-dot pattern! It's whimsical yet sober, and visually interesting without being dizzying.

And, check out the texture in the second photo! Isn't that cool? The dots have dimension. They are fuzzier than the background loop construction. They rise above the background.

From the photos you barely get a taste for the room color scheme. However, note that the bedspread [it's actually a coverlet] offers a warm counterpoint to the coolness of the carpet with its warm, velvety solid Merlot color.

Final point about this hotel room: the striped bed skirt. I never would have thought to do that, and it works marvelously as a bridge between the bold cool carpet pattern and the intensely warm coverlet.

This next hotel room is in New Jersey. More specifically at the Grand Cascades Lodge.

Although more subtle than the polka dot pattern above [no color contrast], this bold trellis pattern works beautifully with the busy organic diamond couch upholstery fabric and the dark wood.

The close up of the carpet pattern gives you a feel for that delicious contrast between a loop and a cut texture construction. It creates dimension and begs for you to walk on it barefoot...

[Can you tell I love texture? I used to take black and white photos of tree trunks... Lately, I've been taking shots of rocks. I may need to revisit tree trunks.]

And, here is the bathroom.
The carpet pattern has been extended into the bathroom via the tile choices and the cabinet doors. Notice the tiles on the countertop, too. [BTW, this bathroom and the one below capture several of the trends that I detail in Bathroom Blogfest 2008: Trends in Bathrooms.]

The last example isn't from a hotel, but rather from a restaurant in Chattanooga, TN. More specifically the St. John's.

Although not from a hotel, it reminded me of the NJ hotel bathroom. I liked how the walls and floor tiles work together. They aren't quite the same: notice the difference in shape and size. If they were the same, the space wouldn't be as interesting.

What do you think of the wash basin? Especially on that pedestal. Different, eh?
But, effective.

Notice, too, the table for placing a bag. Very thoughtful.

As many dreary hotels and bathrooms exist out there that are better off forgotten, I'm finding that more hotels are making an effort around style and design. Not just in bathrooms, but also in the choice of fabrics and carpet and in creating interesting pattern, texture and hard/soft surface contrasts.

It's exciting and inspiring, too!

Did you see Elizabeth's latest: Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Potty Parity?

Visit the members of the Bathroom Blogfest Community [BBC] for Bathroom Blogfest ’08 updates:

Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads
Katia Adams at Transcultural Marketing
Shannon Bilby at Floor Talk!
Laurence Borel at Blog Till You Drop
Jo Brown and the blogging team at Kohler Talk
Lisbeth Calandrino at Lisbeth Calandrino
Sara Cantor at The Curious Shopper
Becky Carroll at Customers Rock!
Katie Clark at Practical Katie
Iris Shreve Garrott at Circulating
Ann Handley at Annarchy
Marianna Hayes at Results Revolution
Elizabeth Hise and C.B. Whittemore at The Carpetology Blog
Maria Palma at Customers Are Always
Sandra Renshaw at Purple Wren
Kate Rutter at Adaptive Path
Claudia Schiepers at Life and its little pleasures
Carolyn Townes at Becoming a Woman of Purpose
Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology
C.B. Whittemore at Flooring The Consumer





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Monday, October 27, 2008

Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Potty Parity

Of all the topics we discuss here at The Carpetology Blog, I am perhaps most qualified to write about the one that brings us here this week. Bathrooms.


I'm a small person. My internal organs are, presumably, proportionate to the rest of me, leaving me with - you guessed it - the world's smallest bladder. Which means that I have spent about a tenth of my life (by my own estimation) going in and out of bathroom stalls. I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly, from gas station restrooms to port-o-potties to upscale powder rooms.

I know bathrooms. And I have a lot to say on the subject.

To begin with, bathrooms are a necessary evil. Like Susan Abbott said during last year's blogfest, "every human being has to use the bathroom." I usually have to find one during the most inconvenient of times - long car rides through southern Missouri, on planes traveling from point A to point B, walking down busy city streets. I can't avoid going to the bathroom, so when I find one that was recently cleaned, smells good, has a fresh supply of toilet paper and offers a hook for my purse, I'm a happy girl. On the other hand, I've run into some truly obscene restrooms, and if these are located in retail establishments, I usually make a mental note not to go back.

And that is the whole point of the Bathroom Blogfest. The bathroom has a HUGE impact on how people - especially women - view the world. If their experience in a bathroom is lousy, it taints the rest of the retail establishment, regardless of whether it's a restaurant, a hotel, a retail store or a gas station, no matter how lovely it actually is.

In 2007, there was a major bathroom debacle here in St. Louis. As many sports fans know, the old Busch Stadium (may it rest in peace) was torn down, and a new Busch stadium was built, leaving the St. Louis Cardinals and all of their fans with shiny rows of new red seats, a more open layout, and varying nacho options.

Now, this was enough of a controversy in and of itself. St. Louis loved the Old Busch. It had stood unwaveringly since 1966 and was as much of an icon as Ozzy Smith or Stan Musial. Needless to say, fans didn't exactly think that it should be torn down. But it was, and we moped and complained and whined, but in the end, we still returned the next season for Cardinals baseball. [The new stadium is pictured in the image above. Photo compliments of BaseballParks.com.]

The problem then became not so much the new stadium, but the women's bathrooms in the new stadium. According to a 1995 law, sports stadiums and other large public venues must have as many toilets for women as they have toilets and urinals for men. But the New Busch was built with 40 more options for men than for women. *GASP* There was an uproar, of course. Architects were consulted and plans were drawn up so that on opening day in 2007, both men and women had 334 toilets - a perfect potty parity.

My bathroom experience at the Old Busch was so-so, at best. Lines were generally long and the ladies rooms were tired and worn. But at New Busch, I can get in and get out - clean, warm restrooms, nice stalls and plenty of space in which to navigate the other leg-crossed women. A very positive bathroom experience.

What about you? What are your thoughts on New Busch's bathrooms? Or the restrooms in a stadium in your city? Let us know - you'll find us here all week during Bathroom Blogfest 2008!





Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Cleaning Up Forgotten Spaces Around Us

Welcome to Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Cleaning Up Forgotten Spaces!

Since 2006, a group of women bloggers focused on the customer experience has reserved one week each year to discuss a most important location - the ladies room. Because everyone needs them, restrooms are universally necessary, making them a hugely important - and often forgotten - part of the customer experience in retail locations.

This year, Christine and I are joining the conversation once again via both Carpetology and Flooring the Consumer. We encourage you to comment, get involved and send us your own experiences, both good and bad. We'll be discussing ladies rooms, of course, but also other forgotten spaces around us that could use a good sprucing up - entry ways, changing rooms or any other areas that affect the customer experience but aren't accorded the attention they deserve.

We Women of Wear-Dated, as well as our 18 other cohorts, will be posting on any and all topics related to the loo and how it impacts retail experiences. Last year’s Blogfest featured posts on such diverse topics as Disney Land, family-owned businesses, bus stations and better automatic flushers. [You can read last year's discussion here at the 2007 Bathroom Blogfest group site.] Look for even more creative posts this year...

Participating bloggers for the Bathroom Blogfest ’08 include:
Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads
Katia Adams at Transcultural Marketing
Shannon Bilby at Floor Talk!
Laurence Borel at Blog Till You Drop
Jo Brown and the blogging team at Kohler Talk
Lisbeth Calandrino at Lisbeth Calandrino
Sara Cantor at The Curious Shopper
Becky Carroll at Customers Rock!
Katie Clark at Practical Katie
Iris Shreve Garrott at Circulating
Ann Handley at Annarchy
Marianna Hayes at Results Revolution
Elizabeth Hise and C.B. Whittemore at The Carpetology Blog
Maria Palma at Customers Are Always
Sandra Renshaw at Purple Wren
Kate Rutter at Adaptive Path
Claudia Schiepers at Life and its little pleasures
Carolyn Townes at Becoming a Woman of Purpose
Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology
C.B. Whittemore at Flooring The Consumer

During Bathroom Blogfest 2008, look for photos and posts with the tags “#ladiesrooms08” on flickr, del.icio.us, Technorati, Twitter and Google and monitor this conversation about the customer experience, bathrooms and other forgotten spaces around us.

We look forward to hearing from you - Happy bathroom blogfesting!





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Friday, October 24, 2008

Spooktacular Stains - Removing the Remnants of Halloween from Your Carpet

While walking Vegas through my neighborhood recently, my boyfriend said that our poor pooch got spooked when they passed a house particularly enthusiastic about Halloween this year. Complete with giant inflatables, a "graveyard" and plenty of orange and black, apparently this house made Vegas hang her head and attempt to slink to the other side of the street.

This little scenario made me realize that whether we like it or not, Halloween is coming at us with an intensity that begins earlier and earlier each year. Much like department stores decorating for Christmas in October, many families are now decorating for Halloween in September. And this means that on October 31, the parties, celebrations and extravaganzas will take place with an overwhelming severity. Which also means that, for the average homeowner, the likelihood that something Halloween-related will get smooshed into his or her carpet has increased exponentially.

Carpetology Blog to the rescue! Below are a few Halloween-y items that could potentially create spooktacular stains on your carpet. We've included the best ways to prevent those stains from remaining with you all year, and links to more information.

Candy - Be it Swedish Fish, Skittles or Laffy Taffy, having sugary, brightly colored candy stuck in your carpet can be a bit of a problem.

First, scrape up any semi-solids with a spoon. Then, you have a few options. WearDated.com suggests blotting the spot using a white cloth and a detergent solution (1/4 tsp. detergent/1 qt. water). The Carpet & Rug Institute suggests the same method, but offers a few other solutions to try when the detergent solution stops transferring the stain to the cloth. [Search under 'candy' in the Spot Solver.]

When the stain is removed, rinse with clean, cold water and blot. WearDated.com suggests making a pad of white paper towels and placing it on the spot, weighing down with a brick until dry.

Makeup - When you're a kid, makeup brings every costume that much closer to reality. Except when the make-up winds up on the floor instead of your face. But if that happens, all is not lost. Simply scrape up the extra using a dull knife (or vacuum, if it's a solid), then use a white cloth to blot the stain with isopropyl rubbing alcohol (the CRI suggests using a detergent solution).

If the spot extends deep into the pile, blot until it is removed or no color transfers to the cloth. However, if the spot is on the surface only, rub the stain in one direction at a time - never use a circular motion because it could harm the carpet's texture.

When the stain is removed, rinse with cold water, then blot (the brick trick mentioned above works at this point too).

A major watch-out with alcohol, though: Do not allow the alcohol to penetrate the backing, as it will destroy the latex bond. Annette says "it is important to know this because otherwise you will end up with tufts coming out of the carpet!"

Chocolate -Kit Kats, Snickers, Hershey bars... delicious to your tastebuds, but deadly to your carpet. To remove the remnants of a chocolate casualty, get rid of as much as you can using a spoon, then blot, blot, blot. Wear-Dated suggests neutralizing the stain with an ammonia solution [it consists of a household ammonia solution of 1 tablespoon of clear household ammonia per 1/2 cup of water], then blotting it with a detergent solution and a white cloth. Rinse, blot and weigh down with towels and a brick.

Keep in mind that with all of these stain solutions, time and patience are both required. You may need to rinse and repeat a few times before the stain leaves your carpet completely. And don't forget that you can look up the solutions to these and many other stains using the Stain Removal Guide at WearDated.com and the Spot Solver on the CRI's Web site.

Additionally, remember these key handy-dandy tips from the CRI when you're removing unwanted stains:

  • Pretest any spot removal solution (for color transfer to the cloth or damage to the carpet) in an inconspicuous area. If a change occurs, select another solution.

  • Act Quickly! Delaying may cause the spill to become a permanent stain.

  • Many spot removal solutions leave residues in the carpet that may attract soil. Thoroughly rinse the area several times with lukewarm tap water. Blot with paper towels and pat dry after each rinse. Several rinses are often necessary to thoroughly remove residues.

  • More tips can be found here, at the Carpet & Rug Institute's Web site.
Good luck, and of course, have a happy Halloween!


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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Foot's Perspective - Episode 15: How To Remove A Carpet Stain

This episode of A Foot's Perspective captures expert advice - courtesy of Annette Smith - on how best to remove a carpet stain.

How difficult can it be to remove a carpet stain? Liquid in, liquid out - right? Well, not quite. Or, at least, not that quickly.
And, in terms of how I do it, well - aren't all surfaces the same? Doesn't the movement I use to wipe Windex off a grease-covered counter top the same I should use on carpet? Or, can't I just energetically rub that stain out of the carpet?
Absolutely not!

Here follows a primer on how best to go about removing a stain on carpet.
As mentioned in Carpet: The Solution for Uncertain Economic Times?, if you have a carpet stain, attend to it immediately!

Next, before applying any substance onto your carpet, work with water. Water is your best first line of defense against carpet stains. More often than not, water will take care of the problem.

Notice the spray bottle filled with water in the photo above, and in the video.

If water doesn't do the trick for the stain on your carpet, please only use the method recommended for that stain.

Definitely assemble your tools before you attend to the carpet stain: water, paper towels, and any other materials based on the method recommended for that stain substance. Also a brick or a massive dictionary or some old Encyclopedia Britannicas.

Note the movement that Annette uses to deal with the carpet stain. Is she wiping? No. Is she rubbing? No. She is blotting. And, blotting only. Blotting intensely and blotting consistently.

Here's something else I learned from watching [and videotaping] Annette removing a carpet stain. This will take a while. It will take longer than you expect. But, it works - if you blot, if you work consistently and if you start with water. Here, watch this episode of A Foot's Perspective:
[Subscribers, please click on this link to view the video via YouTube.]

What do you think? Are you ready to banish the rubbing or wiping motion? Ready to blot only, and start with water?

Let me know how it goes.

For the most recent episode, visit A Foot's Perspective - Episode 14. Or you can scroll through previous blogposts with links to all previous episodes of A Foot's Perspective.

Thank you for watching [and reading!].








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Monday, October 20, 2008

Carpet: The Solution for Uncertain Economic Times?

Yes, you read right: carpet may just be the solution to uncertain economic times. Here's my reasoning.

Unless you've been living in a fall-out shelter, you know that the economy isn't at its best right now - to say the least. And because of this, it's easy to get swept up by worry about the condition of your bank, your job and your 401K, especially since the media hasn't covered anything else in recent months except the impending presidential election. And of course, while you're worried about your job and your 401K, you've probably abandoned all hope of selling the house you planned to move out of a year ago. Don't lose hope yet. You may not be able to buy a new house right now, but you can certainly spruce up the one in which you're currently living with carpet.


In fact, Wear-Dated just sent a news release out into the world discussing ways in which homeowners can enhance and add value to their homes. If you're searching for information on carpet and carpet care, you may come across it, but we thought these were such great ideas, you might want to read about them here as well.


Basically, realize that - even in a depressed market - your house's interior doesn't have to reflect the mood of the outside world. Plus, if you give your home's decor a boost, you may give your own morale a boost as well.

Tip #1 – Don’t let carpet stains sit – take care of them immediately. Whether carpet already covers the floors of your home or you’re in the market for new flooring altogether, you can keep your carpet looking like new using the Stain Removal Guide at WearDated.com. Here, you’ll find everything from the tools you should have on hand to the steps for removing specific stains like hand lotion, catsup and candle wax. Choose a stain from the drop down menu and read step-by-step instructions to safely remove it from your carpet. [Image at left compliments of ABC Rug & Carpet Care.]

Tip #2 – Your carpet’s color can make a beautiful design statement. To learn more about color as a design tool, make sure to visit us here at The Carpetology Blog. If you haven't already, do read our discussions about the impact color has on home design, home d├ęcor ideas from Wear-Dated’s color guru Ann Hurley, and seasonal predictions for color and design trends. You can also access the blog from the Wear-Dated Web site home page or check out excerpts in the Wear-Dated website Newsroom.

Tip #3 – Give your home a modern makeover with carpet! Compared to buying a whole new house (or the pain of trying to sell your current home), carpet costs very little. Add design flair to a room with a stylish new frieze, a retro shag or a subtle loop. Try on hundreds of carpet styles and options in the Plan & Design section of WearDated.com.

And don't forget, you can find a Wear-Dated retailer using the Find Carpet Retailers function on WearDated.com. Making an easy way to freshen your interior - and banish uncertain economic times - just around the corner...




P.S.: Christine suggests another carpet solution for uncertain economic times...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Atlanta Flooring Design Centers: Passionate About Customers!

In mid-September, I shared What Your Register Tape Doesn't Tell You - my Surfaces 2008 presentation - with Atlanta Flooring Design Centers in Suwanee, Ga. What an experience!

First, you can't imagine a more focused and delightful audience, focused on the customer's experience. Participants peppered me with questions.

Next, the store. It's beautiful and thoughtfully laid out.

Michael Barrows, sales manager -- pictured here with me on the left and Alison Koeneman, our Wear-Dated representative in the Atlanta area, on the right -- is passionate about the store and making sure that it delivers an unforgettable experience to consumers.

He has a rich background in flooring, having operated his own store for several years, as well as worked on the manufacturing side of the business. He understands the product and what it represents to a consumer: a solution for her home.

Michael considers himself extremely lucky to be part of this business environment. He says "we have surrounded ourselves with talented, successful people. The passion throughout the company comes from many personalities that are allowed to thrive within our corporate community. Our basic goal and just one reason for success is the involvement of the company and its employees in the community that is a cornerstone of this business."

The store makes a strong statement about fashion and flooring, with vignettes and interesting juxtapositions. You'll notice hard surface samples in the soft surface section to show how the two can work together. You'll see samples as artwork. You'll also notice, particularly if you visit repeatedly, that it frequently changes to showcase something new, or to better demonstrate how to use products.

In addition to this store in Suwanee, Atlanta Flooring Design Centers also operates in Duluth, Ga. The company was started 23 years ago with a strong commitment to the customer. Just read through their Mission Statement and Core Values.

Michael offers background on how the company came to be. "Atlanta Flooring Design Centers' founder, Donny Phillips, started the business 23 years ago with a mission in mind to offer service and product to the community at a price that was fair and service that was above and beyond. The three principles are totally different in their skill sets and knowledge of the business which is what has allowed AFDC to thrive thru the years. You could say the principles complement each other's talents and personalities."

Atlanta Flooring Design Centers features a significant Karastan collection. When I visited, they had just received the Karastan Inspired Luxury collection and were about to set up. [If you haven't checked it out, you might. Not only does it include several styles made with Wear-Dated carpet fiber, but it showcases luxurious selection and customization. All of the carpet styles within the Inspired Luxury collection are available in 100 colors, in addition to each individual style’s running line of colors – even for those wanting a custom rug.]

The day following my visit, this store was hosting its first ever Design Expo - a full day filled with activities, education and presentations from representatives in the flooring industry. This was geared toward members of the design community. Local designers could take part in CEU credit classes in subjects ranging from design in carpet and natural stone to LEED and tile.

Allison said that the Expo was well attended. Designers not involved in seminars toured Atlanta Flooring Design Centers' showroom with expert commentary from the sales staff. Attendees mingled from morning to evening.

As Allison commented after the day's program "With outreaching events such as today it is easy to see why AFDC shines as a premier resource for designer flooring in the Atlanta area!"

To give you a feel for this beautiful showroom, here are a few more photos I took.

Note, in the photo above, how these patterned tile samples are engagingly fanned on the table.

Pictured on the right is this delicious seating area, with easy access to a TV if needed. This space is within easy access of the soft surface section of the store, immediately off the front central entrance area. Notice how it showcases product in a home-like setting.

It's also extremely comfortable. A perfect place for considering ideas, taking a phone call or for exhausted spouses and children to relax and enjoy other things [sports? Nemo?]

This photo on the left was taken in the soft surface [i.e., carpet] section of the store. I like how Michael has interspersed hard surface samples amidst the carpet samples. After all, that is how consumers use product in their homes!

Hanging from the wall were other hard surface samples [you can see a suggestion of that in the photos].

[In the hard surface section, I saw carpet as art.]

If you find yourself in Suwanee, Georgia, please do visit Atlanta Flooring Design Centers. Ask for Michael [he's charming and most knowledgeable]. If he's not available, everyone there will absolutely make you feel 100% welcome and inspired.





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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Millions of blogs populate the blogosphere, each with a different viewpoint. When you visit The Carpetology Blog, for example, you expect to read a little something about carpet, a little something about interior design, a little something about houses and homes.

But today, we're changing the conversation, as are over 11,000 other bloggers around the world for Blog Action Day 2008. The topic? Poverty.

Since Carpetology is all about homes and lifestyles, today, we're discussing the other end of that spectrum - homelessness as it results from poverty.

There are millions of people in the United States who experience homelessness every year. Sometimes, it's a temporary situation. Sometimes, it's chronic, a result of a mental illness or disability, substance abuse or domestic violence. Regardless of its cause, it affects men and women and children from all backgrounds, cities and states of mind. Occasionally, there are people who choose to live a mobile lifestyle, but for those who don't have a choice, we can all universally agree that homelessness is not an ideal circumstance, to put it mildly.

A few facts:

  • According to the National Coalition for the Homeless: Two trends are largely responsible for the rise in homelessness over the past 20-25 years: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty.

  • Additional causes of homelessness may include a lack of affordable health care, natural disasters or unexpected emergencies, and a variety of personal factors - mental illness, institutional release or a lack of education being just a few.

  • Also from the NCH: Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities. Often it is housing, which absorbs a high proportion of income that must be dropped. Being poor means being an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets.

So what to do about homelessness? I don't claim to be an expert on the topic, nor do I have all the answers; I'm not sure anyone does. On a national or even global level, this problem is overwhelming. But there are people who strive daily to make small changes, to help reverse the trend of homelessness one person at a time. Here in St. Louis, on a local level, a few projects deserve some attention.

St. Patrick Center St. Patrick Center provides opportunities for self-sufficiency and dignity to persons who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Individuals achieve permanent, positive changes in their lives through affordable housing, sound mental health, employment and financial stability.

The center is located in downtown St. Louis and is the largest provider of homeless services in Missouri. Basically, the center and its employees and volunteers help people move from homelessness to independence cost-effectively and efficiently. It serves 9,000 clients yearly through 20 programs and 13 partners and serves as a national example for best practices.

One of the most incredible programs of St. Patrick center is McMurphy's Grill, a full-service restaurant for training homeless/mentally ill clients. Instead of just offering handouts, the Grill provides a way for clients to receive training for three to six months, then helps them find permanent work in food service. It even features Celebrity Host Wednesdays when community leaders can invite and "host" their friends, families and colleagues to come into the restaurant to eat lunch and contribute to McMurphy's.

Recently, St. Patrick Center just launched BEGIN: Businesses, Employment, Growth, Incomes, Neighborhoods. This brand new center offers a place for clients to find the support, tools, education, support and community needed to start their own businesses and support themselves.

I've only touched the surface of these programs - they're only two of many, and the services they offer provide unlimited opportunities for the people they help.

What's Up St. Louis: As a writer and editor, this program touches me deeply. What's Up is a magazine that is written and produced, marketed and sold by homeless persons. "The Whats Up Magazine Homeless Empowerment Project has many faces, a newspaper, an advocacy group, and a Homeless Speakers Bureau. We do a lot, and all of it is working toward building bridges among the poor, homeless and the greater community, while engaging the broader public in fighting for economic justice."

Founded by Jay Swoboda, a man known in St. Louis for his green development projects, What's Up's mission is "to empower men and women who are homeless or at risk of being so, as they work towards gainful empowerment and self-sufficiency. Whats Up organizes, educates, and builds alliances to connect community-based solutions to homelessness and poverty by comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable."

Homeless persons on staff take part in the sales, advertising and production of the magazine. And the publication's content promotes social awareness. Personally, I can't think of anything more empowering than seeing my words in print and watching others read and be affected by what I have written, especially when my words can affect change. What better way to "comfort the disturbed" and "disturb the comfortable?"

St. Patrick Center and What's Up certainly don't even solve the problem of homelessness in St. Louis, let alone the U.S. But they're two thriving examples of what all of us can do at a local level to alter the situation and enact social change. And Blog Action Day is a reminder that if we all work together, we can actually make a difference.









Monday, October 13, 2008

Annette's Carpet Corner: Carpet Patches vs. Redyeing

Earlier this year, in Why Save Carpet Scraps From Your Installation, Annette Smith explained why holding onto scraps from your carpet installation makes sense. That post generated thoughtful comments from Chris Howell-Colorful Carpets Certified Dye Master about the benefits of re-dyeing carpet rather than trying to repair with a carpet patch.

I discussed the matter with Annette. She sees all kinds of carpet care and maintenance situations - including carpet repair questions - in her role with the Wear-Dated warranty service area. Her reaction: "He makes a good point about re-dyeing being a solution when something has taken the color out of the carpet as long as whatever has come in contact with the carpet has not degraded the fibers."

However, she pointed out that she has encountered several situations when re-dyeing was not an option and offered the two photos below to help illustrate these situations.

This first image represents a quarter-sized portion of carpet without fiber tufts. [To the right of the white towel], you'll notice a bald section in the carpet. The fiber tufts are gone and what is left is the backing scrim.

[According to the independent inspector who personally inspected this situation, some kind of chemical substance must have come in contact with the carpet and 'eaten away' or melted the backing substance. The consumer had kept the tufts that came out of the carpet in a baggie and when viewed under UV light they illuminated - indicating the presence of a chemical substance. He also performed a tuft bind test on the tufts around the area of tuft loss which indicated that the carpet was not defective.]

In a case like this, the best solution is a repair patch with a matching carpet style scrap.

Now, as Chris Howell points out in his comments, a patch may stand out especially if the carpet was installed a while back and in a high traffic area which would -over time- cause the texture to change. However, as a consumer, you may decide that patching the bald spot is a better solution than replacing the entire carpet.

The second photo captures an extreme case of pet damage to a carpet. [Note that this represents a loop construction which is not recommended for a household with pets, especially dogs. The reason: their nails can get caught in the loops and pull the loops out of the backing, eventually leading to this kind of situation.] In this case, a cat - who used the carpet as its litter box - damaged the carpet. The carpet was only about a year old and the cat had damaged more than one area.

Not a pretty picture.

However, if you're not in the mood to replace the entire carpet in this room, using a carpet remnant in the same color and style makes for an acceptable solution.

Annette explains that an important aspect of the conversations the Wear-Dated warranty service center has with consumers is to explain what options they have available to deal with carpet situations.

In many cases, it's not about the warranty, but rather what the range of options are between doing nothing and ripping the carpet out. Although a patch may stand out in terms of color variation and texture differences, it may represent an acceptable solution.

For particularly difficult carpet maintenance questions, Annette says that we generally advise consumers to contact a company that specializes in repairs to find out what all their options are. The first step is to visit the IICRC and find a certified carpet repair resource.

I encourage you to read the original post and comments. I've recaptured here Chris' check list of questions to consider when seeking a carpet dyeing professional:

• Is carpet dyeing the main focus of their business?

• Do they have Certified Dye Technicians who will be performing the work?

• What kind of training and credentials does their technical staff have?

• Are the dyes guaranteed to be permanent and colorfast for the life of the carpet?

• Will the dyes leave any kind of residue?

• Do they have a portfolio of letters of reference and endorsements?

• Are Materials Safety Data Sheets available for inspection to prove non-toxicity of their solutions?

• Do they use liquid dyes as opposed to powder dyes? (Liquid dyes do not leave a powdery residue behind)

• Are they willing to guarantee that newly dyed carpet will have even coloration?

• Are they willing to provide a written guarantee to attest to the results and the quality of their work?

• Are they able to achieve perfect color matching?

So, hold onto carpet scraps; you never know when you might need them for a carpet patch repair. If you decide to redye your carpet, be sure to ask the kinds of questions that Chris shares.

The final word from Annette's Carpet Corner is to determine what all of your options are. What's right for one person, may not be right for another. Be sure, too, to visit the IICRC to find certified carpet repair resources.



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