After years of being ripped out and kicked to the curb, carpet is making a comeback. And not just the neutral-toned carpets of recent years, but ones that are boldly colored or patterned.
The softer, cozier feel of wall-to-wall carpet is appealing to homeowners used to treading on tile and wood, said Emily Morrow, director of color, style and design for Shaw Floors, a company in Dalton, Ga., that specializes in carpet, laminate, tile and hard wood flooring.
"They've experienced those hard surfaces, and they want to surround themselves with the comfort" of carpet, she said.
While hardwood or tile can be great for entryways or other high-traffic areas, some rooms - bedrooms, playrooms, studies and family rooms - cry out for carpeting, said Eric Ross, an interior designer in Franklin, Tenn. "Carpet is really trending up," he said. "You're going to see more and more of it."
Manufacturers have responded by creating carpets with rich colors, patterns and textures designed to be a focal point, rather than just a neutral backdrop. The new choices are available at a variety of price points.
"It has gotten exciting again" after years of playing it safe, Morrow said.
Clients are using carpet to make a statement, agreed Linda Merrill, an interior designer in Duxbury, Mass. "If carpet is the right choice for a specific space, they feel freer to pick something a little more exciting," she said. "There are a lot of different colors and different options."
More vibrant carpets often create a more customized feel, Merrill said. With the slumping real estate market, homeowners are indulging their personal tastes and worrying less about how their choices will affect the resale value of their home, she said.
Some of the over-the-top ideas from television shows also have freed people to experiment more with decorating, she said. And the pervasiveness of patterns and bright colors in housewares and home furnishings in recent years has made people more open to color.
The bold choices signal a shift away from the neutral palette that dominated earlier in the decade, says Annie Elliott, an interior designer in Washington, D.C.
"In the past several years, we've been moving away from subtle muddy tones to brighter colors and bright patterns," Elliott said.
Those who are hesitant to choose a patterned carpet often create an impact with a textured one, said Jennifer Bardsley, an interior designer in Hingham, Mass.