Here's the word from carpet guru Kitty Bartholomew: "Texture, texture, texture."
OK, so that's three words, or more precisely, the same word three times.Whatever, texture is the trend in 1995 and shows no sign of going away soon, says interior designer Bartholomew, former decorating specialist for ABC TV's "The Home Show" and spokeswoman for The Carpet and Rug Institute, based in Dalton, Ga.
She was in Salt Lake City last week and talked with the Deseret News on how consumers can get the most out of their investment in carpeting.
All carpets have texture, of course, but when Bartholomew uses the word, she means loop pile carpet that creates subtle patterns, does not show footprints and does a good job of hiding dirt and stains.
She puts it this way: "It's the bold, comfortable and hassle-free look that fits well with today's more active and casual lifestyles."
Texture can be achieved several ways, said Bartholomew. It can be tightly or loosely tufted with either natural or synthetic fibers. Thicker, coarser yarns are usually used in level loop carpet to create an uneven, full-bodied look, or they can be tufted into multilevel loop pile to create geometric or random patterns.
Some manufacturers are also using yarn flecked with color combinations to create a tweed effect and textured finish.
Textured carpet is so versatile, she said, that some people are using tightly constructed loop pile in kitchens and family rooms. This is the kind of carpet often used in commercial applications where carpet has to hold up under use in public spaces.
Much of the credit for the trend toward textured carpet, said Bartholomew, goes to new machine-tufting technology that is able to produce multilevel loop and cut patterns once reserved only for skilled makers of costly Oriental rugs.
These techniques include:
Level loop pile is looped yarn of equal height that offers good wear in high traffic areas. Many berber, sisal and sisal-like carpets are level loop.
Multilevel loop pile usually has two or three different loop heights to create dimensional effects such as diamonds or chevrons, among others.
Cut and loop pile is a combination of cut and looped yarns creating a varied texture, including sculptured effects that are currently popular.
Color trends in carpeting varies across the country, said Bartholomew, but in the West natural tones prevail. However, that means more than the ubiquitous "earth tones" that have held sway for the past two decades.
Bartholomew prefers the term "environmental colors," which include many variations of green, yellow, maize, alfalfa and sage, among others.
"When I think of earth tones I think of mud and brick. These are field earth tones, meadow earth tones, not desert earth tones."
But don't confuse natural colors with natural fibers. Despite the trend toward natural fibers in clothing, Bartholomew said most carpet today is synthetic with nylon heading the list.
"Wool is just not cost effective any more," she said. "You can get most of the same characteristics as wool with synthetics for a lot less money."
Nor do consumers have to be as careful with synthetics. New stain resistant finishes allow spills to bead on the surface without penetrating. That's why manufacturers advise consumers to blot up staining liquid, not rub it in.
Carpet is so tough today, she added, that it seems to last forever if people want it to. "Carpet doesn't wear out anymore, it just uglies over time."
What about other types of floor covering? Bartholomew dismisses them out of hand. She says hardwood is cold, hard, noisy and difficult to maintain. Same goes for tile, with the added caveat that it poses a safety issue. Ever fall on a stone floor?
Also, she notes, people who install a costly hardwood floor usually end up putting rugs on it, leaving only the wood edge showing.
Speaking of rugs, Bartholomew said there is a growing trend for apartment-dwellers or homeowners with hardwood floors to buy wall-to-wall carpeting, have it cut to size and then have the edges bound or fringed. When they move, the carpet goes with them.