November 23, 2015

Plaid carpeting appreciation

Homes have never looked more bleak and dull than today, with blank, smooth, drab surfaces where there should be patterns, textures, and colors. Endless, undifferentiated drywall in neutral paint is the main offender, but people have some conception of what an alternative would look like -- colored paint, patterned wallpaper, wood paneling.

Floors suffer more because the alternatives to smooth beige carpet are further back in memory, and some younger homeowners may not have experienced them at all. Hardwood flooring, the cousin of wood paneling on the walls, is still popular, but many people insist on carpeting to save on costs, to soften the feel under foot, to prevent cavernous echoes, or whatever else.

With the natural texture and grain of hardwood off the table, that leaves colors and patterns to provide visual satisfaction. But who ever heard of colored, patterned carpet?

Millennial homeowners, who were children during the 1990s, may have grown up deprived of examples from the heyday of plaid carpeting. But it may not be too late to get them to replace the bleak beige look they have grown accustomed to, since they're at least used to the trendiness of plaid in clothing. If it looks pleasing on a shirt, why not on a carpet? I really don't care if they do it to be trendy, as long as living spaces stop looking so depressingly lifeless.

Here are just a few examples of how much cheer and charm some plaid carpeting can provide (plus one from the '70s where the only surface that isn't plaid is the carpet -- wouldn't want to over-do it).


  1. No, no, no, that's horrible. We recently put in some blue carpeting that has a texture to it that makes it look sort of checked. But plaids are terrible. I want to throttle women who wear the Burberry plaid. By the way, do 20-something bars still look like an ocean of black leather, like they did from 1995-2005? If that craze abated, what was the reason?

  2. My own experience is that hardwood floors (or "wood-look" laminate tile) seem to be prized by trendy young people now. Area rugs provide most of the benefits of wall-to-wall anyway, with the benefit that you can easily swap them out and clean under them. I would never want a house with wall-to-wall.

  3. That bottom picture is an eyesore.

  4. The characteristic soulless look of modern homes comes from the lack of framed stuff on the walls. No family pictures. No strange portrait of a long-dead ancestor that Uncle Gus randomly left you in his will. No low-skill but original landscape painting you bought after one too many glasses of wine at one of those tourist trap art galleries by the beach. No charcoal sketch your weird second cousin Flynn is always doing of cows looking over their shoulder at you. No stuffed deer heads. No portrait of St Gemma. No embroidered saying worthy of your High School's though of the day. No that's the first dollar I ever made digging ditches for FDR. Etc.

    The third picture is almost as soulless as it would be with solid taupe carpet. Look at the "nobody lives here" walls. Well, there are a couple of things.

  5. Related: No more interest in portraits for wall adornment

  6. Don't forget the baseboard/trim/crown molding. These days its all that stock colonial that is sold by the forest on the cheap.

    Anyway, seen people more inclined to paint stuff a bit more boldly. That accent wall is popular from all the homes I have been in. Color seems to be making a comeback. Though hardwood floors aren't going anywhere.

  7. A colored expanse is better than a bland expanse, but walls want something with detail -- wood grain, geometric motifs, natural motifs, something. And things hanging on the walls too. Walls today, even if painted in a nice color, are so blank that it looks unnatural.

    As for moldings, I don't think the type you get is so important as the color scheme. There's a huge trend under way of all-white trim and contrasting color on the walls / carpet / floor / ceiling. It's so harsh and stark to look at -- like WOW DID YOU SEE THE BRIGHT TRIM? IT'S IN YOUR FACE!

    Especially when some airhead moves into an old house and ruins wood trim, or other woodwork, with white paint. It looks like something that was stamped out of a plastic factory, not wood that was carved and stained.

    Imagine going into a boardroom, and all the woodwork has been painted white because one of the wives thought it would really freshen up the space, really brighten it up.

    ...But that's a rant for another post.

  8. White is perceived to go with everything, and you definitely need to take your trim into consideration when decorating your home. So the wood tends to complicate things. Or at least you do these days. Those pictures you posted are textbook buy what you like and because you like it, it will go with everything else. They are dreadful.

    Also stock mdf white painted colonial can save you $5,000 over doing stained oak or maple when you are talking the whole house. And then a lot of the reasons people paint the oak/maple in the old homes is that they need repair and to sand/stain them is massively time consuming, expensive, and is over the skill level of anybody that isn't at least moderately DIY inclined.

    Anyway, I disagree that walls crave texture. I abhor it. Its too distracting. I would go mad if I were sitting in a couple of those rooms above trying to converse with somebody. I will agree that people have a lot of soulless rooms these days. Like canvases that are never painted. People have these very crisp rooms but they never seem to have the item or two that the room is supposed to be showcasing. The result is your eye ends up catching the white trim, because that is the most pronounced thing in the room.

  9. All-white trim doesn't "go with" the room -- it pops out so much that it looks like you're trying to emphasize the skeleton rather than the whole body of the room. Like those modernist buildings where there's a bright skeleton, and the walls, windows, etc. are secondary.

    Hideous, alienating, and calling way too much attention to itself. Tryhard.

  10. Painting white over original woodwork is not only desecration, it looks much uglier and cheaper (which it is, as you point out). If you aren't willing to maintain or restore irreplaceable woodwork, buy some other house.

    We need stewardship over homes, not corner-cutting.


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