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Decorating And Floor Coverings

[Using Color]  [Choosing Your Fabrics]  [Period Design Motifs In Fabrics And Wallpapers]  [Wallpaper]  [Decorating And Floor Coverings]  [More Home Decorating Tips] 

( Originally Published 1955 )


When buying a room-sized rug, remember that the color must not be isolated, but must be tied in with your color scheme; the color of the rug should be repeated, in the same or another shade, elsewhere in the room.

If you use small scatter rugs, be sure to lay them parallel with the walls and not cater-cornered. The latter arrangement makes the room look smaller and creates confusing lines.

How to Measure for Rugs and Carpets

1. Measure the length and width of your room in feet, using a metal tape measure.

2. Multiply the two together.

3. Divide by 9. This gives the number of square yards needed.

When measuring for a room-sized rug, allow a margin of from 6 to 18 inches all around, from the baseboard to the rug. Nine inches is a good average margin, but the larger your room, the wider the margin can be.

Worsted or Wool Yarn?

Since the best carpets and rugs are made with worsted yarn, and the second best with woolen yarn, you should know the difference between them.

Worsted Yarn is made from long, straight wool fibers, combed so that they lie in long, slender, parallel lines and have a luster. Carpets of worsted yarn are the best wearing. Woolen Yarn is a soft and spongy uncombed yarn of interlocking fibers of both long and short wool. If a rug fuzzes to shreds, you can be sure it is made of wool yarn.

Types of Rugs and Carpets

The most popular type of rugs and carpets today are generally known as broadlooms. The main types of carpets are: Wilton, Axminster, velvet, tapestry, patent-back, textured, chenille, cotton, and nylon.

These differ in the methods used in weaving them and the material used.

WILTON: This has a closely-woven pile of either worsted or wool yarns, and a firmly woven back of cotton, or cotton and linen, with filler yarns of wool built in to add greater resiliency and longer wearing qualities. Worsted Wiltons are made of fine, lustrous, long-haired yarns, which are sturdier than wool. The pile is kept short to avoid the breaking of these longer fibers when in use. Because of the many mill operations necessary to produce this floor covering, it is considered the finest quality of carpet and is costly. Wool Wiltons have a softer and longer pile, and because the yarn is not twisted so tightly, the pile is fluffier and sheds more when in use than the worsteds.

AXMINSTER: This is the most popular of all machine-loomed carpets because less wool is used in its weaving than in the Wiltons, which lowers manufacturing costs. The backs are of stiff jute, and the only wool yarns used are in the pile itself. They are not knotted, as in finer rugs, but are bound to the back by mechanical methods. Axminsters are usually made of woolen yarns, and the pile tufts are longer and more widely separated than in the Wiltons. One sure way to distinguish it from other weaves is by the fact that it can be rolled lengthwise but not crosswise.

VELVET: A velvet carpet resembles a Wilton in appearance, but there are no filler yarns buried in the back.

TAPESTRY: This type of carpet is woven like the tapestries of ancient times, and has no pile whatsoever. The French Aubusson type of rug falls into this category.

PATENT-BACK CARPETS: These are a development of the last few years. They have become popular because the plastic or other material with which the backs are treated keeps them from raveling and makes it possible to cut the carpet in any direction without having to bind it. If carpet strips are desired, instead of a rug size, the strips can be joined by means of a special tape and adhesive material which makes a strong and less visible joining than the old method of sewing the seam. Furthermore, repairs can be made inexpensively and easily, simply by cutting out the damaged parts and replacing with new sections, taped and cemented in place.

TEXTURED CARPETS: Now very popular, these carpets have a rough, pebbly, or twisted and shaggy appearance. They can be woven on Wilton, chenille, or Axminster looms, and are made of twisted yarns. Varying effects can be obtained by using a combination of high and low pile, or of cut and uncut pile. CHENILLE: This is the most luxurious of machine-loomed floor coverings, and is almost always made to order. The weft yarn (that which goes across the width of the fabric) consists of a fuzzy strip of yarn, which forms a deep and rich-looking pile. Chenille rugs can be made of woolen or worsted yarns.

COTTON AND OTHER TYPES: There are many other types of rugs -hooked, braided, and rag rugs; the cotton rugs woven on broad looms for room-sized rugs, which come in lovely decorator's colors; string rugs; felt rugs; fiber and rush rugs-all of which have their place. Some of the new cotton rugs now on the market are made of long staple cotton fibers, woven on broad looms like the fine wool rugs and resembling chenille in richness of appearance; these come in beautiful decorator's colors. They are pre-shrunk, so they wash beautifully and will keep their beauty for years and years. What is more, they are much less expensive than the fine wool rugs, and they do not attract moths. Also, the new nylon rugs are well worth investigating.


Most of us know more about the quality and durability of carpets and their care than we do about hard flooring. Hard flooring, such as we know it, appeared on the scene for homes, offices, and industrial plants during this century, and it has come to stay.

In our contemporary treatments of period interiors and modern interiors, we find hard flooring most practical and desirable for halls, game rooms, children's rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, pantries, and bars. Its advantages are durability, easy cleaning, and the minimum cost and effort necessary for upkeep.

Types of Hard Flooring

Manufacturers of hard flooring have pamphlets available giving endless ideas on how to use the various types of hard flooring in decorative schemes, as well as information as to where it is suitable, how it should be laid, and how to take care of it.

Space in this book does not permit inclusion of this valuable information, but you can get it from a trained sales person or by writing to the advertising departments of any of the reputable companies and asking for some of their literature and the name of their dealer in your community.

However, for your immediate information, you might like to know some of the important facts and the differences in the various types now on the market.

RUBBER TILE is the most luxurious of all the hard floorings. It comes in most of the fine colors, usually with clearly defined marbleized effects. It stands up well under hard wear. The colors do not fade or wear off because they penetrate the material from top to bottom. It resists indentation and does not crack because of aging. It is comfortable to walk on and therefore reduces fatigue.

Even the best of things need some care to keep them in good condition and maintain their fine appearance. Hard flooring such as rubber tile should be protected with a prepared wax especially made for it.

VINYL TILE IS a popular synthetic plastic hard flooring. It comes in plain colors and marbleized effects, and can be laid over wood or cement floors. Waxing twice a year is sufficient.

ASPHALT TILE 1S a low-cost material which comes in many lovely colors and marbleized effects. It resists moisture and alkali and is the best choice for a basement game room, or any basement room, for that matter, where moisture is apt to collect. It is also the most suitable for homes with radiant heating.

These floors should also be preserved with the special wax made for the purpose. Furniture rests, or cups on the legs of heavy furniture pieces, should be used to prevent denting. For your kitchen floors, use greaseproof asphalt tile which resists the effects of grease and oil.

You can achieve all kinds of interesting effects by cutting out strips or center motifs in other colors and inserting an inlay.

LINOLEUM IS much lower in price than the tiles, since the colors do not impregnate the material and are only laid on the surface in one or more coats. Linoleum comes in plain, marbleized, jaspe (streaked), and embossed effects.

In addition to using linoleum for kitchen floors, you can use it in babies' rooms and in older children's play rooms, on stairways, on kitchen sink tops and closet shelves. And, if you don't want to use rubber tiles for your important hallway, use linoleum. Keep it sparkling clean and well waxed with the special wax prepared for linoleum floors.

CORK FLOORING IS especially good in modern interiors. Cork has a nice texture and is quiet and resilient.

Color Schemes and Hard Flooring. Be sure to choose a color that goes with the rest of the colors in your room. Avoid loud and conspicuous patterns. Some of the smartest hard floors are laid with tile squares in alternating colors, such as black and gray-white, checkerboard fashion, like the Dutch interiors of the past.

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