Flooring advice

Choosing a hardwood floor, patterned rugs and the right carpets.


Choosing a Hardwood Floor
Washington, DC, interior designer Stan Kelly discusses how to make the right choice

H&D: At what stage of a project should a homeowner consider flooring choices?
Kelly: Flooring selection should be the first stage of any project or design process. When creating spaces, interior designers work from the ground up by selecting
finishes and colors to complement the floor. It makes good sense—the entire room design rests on the floor, both literally and figuratively.

H&D: How does flooring affect the overall look of a room?
Kelly: Flooring is one of the most important parts of the design process, as well as a substantial part of the overall architecture of any space. Flooring sets the tone for an entire room—it can be formal or casual, traditional or modern. It’s not just something to be walked on; it should also be appreciated.

H&D: What colors should consumers consider when choosing a floor?
Kelly: The interaction of color and architecture is the very foundation of interior design. Personally, I love the serene tone of white distressed floors. Black flooring can be striking in the right setting and can really bring a sense of scale to a room. I do not recommend orange or red floors to my clients, because those colors seem to limit the overall design.

H&D: What are some common mistakes to avoid when selecting hardwood flooring?
Kelly: There are so many flooring options to choose from today. Homeowners should make an effort to educate themselves by asking for professional help when exploring options. Floors will most likely stay with the house for a lifetime, so it’s a big decision. Take your time and really consider how flooring choices will play into the design scheme. Choose a high-quality, versatile floor that you’ll be able to appreciate for many, many years. It all comes down to installation—using the very best installer is a very important part of the process, and not something to be skimped on.

The Carpet Conundrum

Joe Kruper, sales director of Abbey Carpet in Woodbridge, Virginia, offers advice on choosing the right carpet


H&D: At what stage should a homeowner consider carpet choices?
Kruper: Carpet should be considered soon after selecting the fabrics, pillows, and furniture being used in an area. Be careful if time is a concern. Carpet is not always readily available and should be selected at least three weeks prior to  the day needed for install.

H&D: How does carpet affect the overall look of a room?
Kruper: Carpet can really determine the mood of a room. You can go formal (low, tight-cut floral, a velvet plush, etc.), relaxed (flecked berber, textured Saxony), colorful or neutral. Each style adds a different feel and look to a room, depending on what the homeowner is trying to achieve.

H&D: What are the best carpet choices for families with children and pets?
Kruper: Families in an active household would do best with a frieze (twist), or low-cut pile pattern with a little darker color. Either of these styles when purchased in a nylon fiber-type would perform well both in durability and cleanability. Just remember carpet is a fiber and all fibers will show traffic and can stain, depending on the chemical make-up of the stain.

H&D: What are the best carpet choices for people with allergies?
Kruper: People are usually not allergic to the fibers. The dust and excess fiber that comes off carpet is what affects them the most. People with allergies would do best to stay away from thick, stapled, cut-pile products. They would do better with either continuous filament plushes or berbers (olefin or nylon).

H&D: What are manufacturers doing to make their products “green?”
Kruper: Manufacturers are building plants that will enable them to break carpet waste down into pellets, melt the pellets and re-use them in new carpet. This will drastically help landfills and the environment. All manufacturers will have labels on the products that can be recycled.

H&D: What are some common mistakes to avoid when selecting carpet?
Kruper: When selecting carpet, a client should first find a salesperson who they trust at a reputable dealer. They then should discuss their needs with the salesperson (adding color, durability, etc.). A common mistake made when selecting carpet for a high-traffic area is using a product that is too light. Do not be afraid to go a little darker. This will help hide any stains caused from a spill or normal traffic. Also, be careful with loop piles when pets are involved.

H&D: What are some of the new trends in carpet?
Kruper: Darker colors and softer fibers are among the new trends hitting the market. Stainmaster (Tactesse) and Anso (Caress) are two fiber companies leading the way, with nylon fibers that feel like cotton, without giving up durability or stain protection. Patterned carpets are also starting to make a comeback in the Interior designer Stan Kelly prefers white-washed wood floors for a relaxed, clean look. He created his own white-washed flooring line, recently used in this office design. Photo by Kevin Allen.industry. Karastan, Staunton, Tuftex and Fabrica are among the manufacturers producing beautiful florals, pin-dots, trellises and diamond-patterned styles. Wool products are still a popular selection for those looking for unmatched durability at a higher price point.

Floor Art

Springfield, Virginia, designer Shanon Munn, ASID, of Ambi Design Studio dishes on decorating with patterned area rugs


H&D: What does a decorative area rug bring to a room’s design?
Munn: The rug plays a huge role in the room’s design.  It is the foundation of the space and often sets the tone of the room.  In many cases it is the most expensive item in the space, but done correctly it can be a timeless investment as it can be taken from space to space and home to home.

H&D: How do homeowners know when they have too much pattern in their rug to go with other items in the room (fabrics and art)?
Munn: If you love it, there can never be too much pattern in a rug.  Combining patterns deals with scale.  If there is a large pattern on the rug, smaller patterns might look good on top of it, while a small pattern on your rug may allow for large patterns.  Often, patterns that are the same size don’t look very good layered on top of each other.

Art is an investment, and homeowners need to buy what they like.  Also, since your art is probably not sitting right on the rug or furniture, it is not as important to worry about the scale of the designs.  Rather, it is more important to worry about a painting’s overall scale to the wall it is on and that the colors are compatible.

H&D: If homeowners are interested in incorporating a rug in their home, at what stage in the design process should they make a selection?
Munn: I try to first determine the look of the space using concept or inspiration photos with a client.  During this process, a decision is usually made as to whether the room will use a patterned rug or perhaps a simpler bound area rug.  Next, I start with the design element that has the least amount of choices.  For example, if the client would like a patterned rug I start there, then look for fabrics, then finish with wall colors.

However, if the client wants the room to have more pattern on the furniture and a solid rug base, then I start with the fabrics, go to the rug and finish up with wall colors.


Marc Phillips recently introduced the Metro Collection of
Tibetan rugs with geometric motifs.


Luxurious and environmentally-friendly rug from Odegard;
Lily pattern in titanium.


Shaw’s Inspired Spaces collection is made with Anso nylon,
which contains recycled content and has the ability to be recycled.

A patterned carpet by Karastan, in Marie Louise, a classic
trellis design.