When designing a modern home, the choice of floor covering can have a significant impact on the aesthetic and feel of a space. Most interior designers go immediately to expensive marble, ceramic tiles or wooden boards, overlooking the colour, texture and warmth that contemporary carpets and rugs provide.
There’s nothing like walking barefoot across a soft carpet, whether it’s in your bedroom, living room or study, and the right carpet or rug can offer a surprisingly contemporary look to your home. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the things you should consider before making a decision on your floor covering and how to find the perfect carpet or rug for your space.
One of the main arguments for selecting a hard floor covering is that it’s more durable than carpet, which is true in some cases. That being said, you can find contemporary carpets and rugs made from robust fibres that will last for years while requiring very little maintenance. The durability of a carpet is reflected in its density rating (look for at least 2,000), its face weight (ideally at least one kilogram) and its tuft twist (we recommend 5+).
In our opinion, wool is the best material choice when buying a carpet or rug as it’s both durable and luxurious underfoot. It’s reasonably resistant to staining and naturally antibacterial, and it doesn’t absorb water as readily as some other fibres. For some people, the aesthetic of wool is too traditional for a modern space and selecting a blended carpet or rug might be a better option. But when styled right, a traditional woollen rug can add something special to a contemporary space and achieve that alluring balance between old and new.
Nylon and polyester are both used in blended carpets (as well as being options in their own right) and offer a contemporary aesthetic for modern spaces. Nylon is relatively long-lasting and easy to clean, as well as being resistant to both water and permanent staining. While softer than nylon, polyester isn’t the most durable fibre available but does offer a modern look that many people are after. This is also the case with polypropylene, which has become popular due to its affordability. Also cheap is Triexta, a synthetic polymer material that’s made largely from corn sugar. It has anti-staining and water-resistant properties while being a relatively eco-friendly option. While many of these synthetic options are cost-effective, they don’t achieve the durability, softness and longevity that natural fibres can.
Woven vs tufted pile
Another decision you need to make when choosing a carpet or rug for a modern home is whether you want a woven or tufted pile.
Woven carpets are usually made from wool or a predominantly-wool blend and are created on a loom using traditional carpet manufacturing methods. With the fibres woven into the backing, these carpets and rugs tend to be stronger than tufted pile. Hand-knotted woollen rugs have around 200 knots per square inch, resulting in a tight weave and fine patterns that can’t be replicated with a tufted pile.
Tufted carpets are made by punching the yarn into a base material that resembles fish netting, with the individual pieces of yarn poking through the backing. A second backing (usually made from a heavy cotton material) is then adhered to this, creating a sandwich-like finished product. As they are glued together, tufted carpets generally have a short lifespan and are prone to accumulating dust. Even if they are made with wool, a tufted carpet can’t achieve the fineness and intricacy of a handwoven natural fibre rug. However, they do offer a broad range of possibilities when it comes to patterns and loop height, as well as being available as either cut or uncut pile. For this reason, they’re often favoured in modern homes.
Plain vs patterned
Once you’ve decided on your preferred material and pile, it’s time to turn your attention to whether you want a plain or patterned carpet. Patterned rugs and carpets can make a really bold statement in a room and often work well in otherwise minimalist spaces. You can select from abstract contemporary designs or classic motifs and details that complement the decor you plan on incorporating into the room. A bright splash of colour on the floor may be just what is needed to elevate the room and is something that is difficult to achieve with hard flooring.
If the room is already heavily adorned with decorative furnishings, then a plain carpet or rug might be the answer. That doesn’t mean it has to be a single block color, with many modern carpets and rugs featuring flecks of subtle color that add depth and appeal.
Seek out sustainable options
In the 21st century, there’s nothing more modern than looking for “green” products and this extends to the choice of materials you use in your home. The carpet industry is reflecting this shift in consumer choices and providing eco-friendly options made from naturally-sourced materials. These include corn oil, bamboo and even recycled plastic bottles - consider that as a talking point when guests visit your home!
For its luxurious feel, insulating properties and durability, wool is still one of the best sustainable carpet options on the market. It’s breathable in the summer months and warm in the winter while being a renewable resource.
Rugs + hard flooring
Have your heart set on a hardwood floor but want the colour and style of a carpet? You can have both by selecting a contemporary rug to complement your marble, tile or wooden floor. It will add texture and depth to the space, with the added benefit of being easy to move to another room if you decide to redecorate.
If purchasing a sustainable rug for your modern home is important to you, check out our blog here for ideas.