Selecting Carpet for your Home – Tips and Thoughts

From Decorate Fabulously! (click on photo for info on workshop)

 

I said in a post back in April (oh my, how time flies!),  it is definitely time to replace the upstairs carpet. Not only because it’s horribly old, extremely ugly and here when we moved in, but because our beloved black lab Duncan had some serious bladder control issues before he lost his battle to lymphoma.  

I pulled up parts of the old carpet and sealed the subfloor right after the April post to prepare for the new. Sealing it was great solution as it permanently sealed in the stains on the subfloor and the smell disappeared for good. It was definitely worth the effort and personally, I think it’s the only solution for pet stains.  

One thing that I like to do in my blogs is to share my thoughts behind my decisions. Designers are trained to sit back, analyze and think out a job before jumping into it which is something that you can learn to do too. The process can help save you time and money.  

In my case, there are two defined areas for new carpet with two different sets of requirements.  

THE TWO AREAS TO BE CARPETED:  

  1. The stairs, a landing, 20 ft. hallway and a study connected to our master bedroom.
  2. Two bedrooms that were my children’s. Now that they are on their own, almost on their own, we are converting them into guest bedrooms.

THE FACTS:  

  1. Fresh paint in picked out for both bedrooms. Jim, our new favorite painter was here to do one bedroom last week and is finishing the 2nd this week. I had the carpet installed first so the newly painted walls wouldn’t get scratched by the backing of the carpet. Warning: Unless freshly painted walls have a month or two to completely dry, chances are that even the best carpet installer will leave a scratch or two… or three. It’s hard to avoid. A good painter will use tarps to protect your carpet and furniture.
  2. I am working with a whole house color (I will blog about this soon)  that is a cornbread-like gold by  Behr called Gold Buff.. It is on most of the walls of my lower level, up the stairs, in the hallway and in the study. The carpet needs to coordinate with this color. It sounds like a lot, but it’s actually very neutral and it makes me happy.
  3. I needed the carpet installed ten days after ordering because I had an unexpected guest visiting. See note below.
  4. Price is a factor, but I will pay more for a carpet that will wear well and that I really like, rather than settle for a lower priced carpet that I feel looks cheap from the get-go.

NOTE: I do not recommend doing anything when you need it in a rush. I will admit that I almost always am doing a project because of a special event such as out-of-town company, a graduation party, etc which is not a good thing.  Chances are if you make choices in a hurry, you will regret it. I sacrificed my number one pick of carpet for the stairs and hallway because it was back ordered. In the end, it didn’t come in on time anyway and when it did come in the stairs were bound incorrectly. 

Art and James, who installed the 2 bedrooms  back in April are my favorite installers (another crew did the hall and study) and I wanted them to finish the job. I ended up waiting till this week when they were finally available to get the job finished. It was totally worth it and I am so glad I waited for them. There is a huge value in good workmanship and it is always worth the wait.  

REQUIREMENTS  

The Two Guest Bedrooms:  

  • Carpet must coordinate well with the new carpet in the connecting hallway that will be a different color and style.
  • I prefer a neutral color so I am not locked into a specific color five years from now.
  • Medium grade is acceptable since it will get very little wear.
  • Must feel good under bare feet.

I chose a frieze, which is really pronounced like “freeze”, but most people say it like free-zay…  

Frieze: a cut pile in which the yarns are extremely twisted, forming a “curly” textured surface. It minimizes foot prints and vacuum marks. The Frieze is similar to the old mini shag but the carpet strands are thinner with a bit more twist and resiliency.   

Personally, I like the look of frieze. It’s a little less formal than a traditional plush and has a cozy feel. I went with an oatmeal shade. I actually considered a frieze for the hallway and stairs, but it tends to crush when walked on until the next time that it is vacuumed. That’s not a good thing for my highly travelled stairs, but it made perfect sense for the bedrooms.   

I selected a carpet that was $2.30 per square foot installed with padding. There was also a special that gave me an extra $200.oo off due to the quantity. The price included the removal of the old carpet, moving furniture and installing the new. I thought that was a pretty darn good deal. Please remember that I am in the mid-west. Prices in NYC or California… aka areas with a higher cost of living, will be higher for sure. The key is to know your market.  

The Thumb Test: I give carpet what I call a “thumb” test to judge the quality of a carpet. The cost of a carpet is directly related to the density or the thickness of yarns per square inch. Since it’s never listed, I simply dig my thumb into the pile (yarns). If I can easily feel the base of the carpet, chances are it’s of a lesser quality and that it won’t wear as well as a higher quality carpet. If you feel very little of the base because of the yarn density… then it’s a higher quality and it will typically wear better. Use this knowledge when weighing in on your decision. Additionally, spending a bit more on padding will extend the life of any carpet and feel better under your feet. If price is a factor, definitely do not scrimp on padding.  

Industry Ratings: (From Shaw Carpeting)  

Ratings from 1 to 5

On the label of every residential carpet style, you’ll find an easy-to-find, easy-to-understand Performance Rating.  

Rated from 1 to 5, the scale represents the carpeting’s ability to withstand extended wear. A perfect rating of 5 means that after rigorous, industry-standard testing, the carpeting maintained the appearance of brand new carpet.  

A rating of 4.0 or above is considered outstanding. These carpets are recommended for heavy traffic locations, including family rooms and children’s areas.  

A rating of 2.5 to 4.0 is predicted to provide normal durability. These carpets can be used in most home applications if properly maintained and cleaned.  

A rating below 2.5 should be considered for light to moderate traffic areas only, such as bedrooms.  

NOTE: It’s not practical to associate years with the carpeting durability rating. There are so many variable factors— area of the home, traffic patterns, number of inhabitants, level of proper maintenance, etc.— that what might be only three years of acceptable carpeting performance to one could be a lifetime to another.  

The carpet performance rating results from rigorous testing that conforms to industry standards. Some of other definitions for carpet terms are:  

Face weight – The amount of surface yarn in a square yard of carpet (expressed in ounces per square yard), excluding that which extends below the primary backing.  (*Note-face weight will not be available on all styles and should not be the primary factor for choosing a carpet).
Twist – The number of times fiber strands are twisted together in a one-inch length of carpet yarn.  Twist affects the texture and look of cut pile carpet.  
Density– How tightly carpet fibers or yarn is packed together and bound into the carpet backing.  Higher density affects the appearance of the carpet and provides greater comfort and luxury underfoot.    

Click here for a great article I just found with tons of information regarding carpeting. It’s worth the read if you are going to invest in new carpet!  

Now… back to my house:  

Requirements for The Stairs, Landing, Hall and Study:  

  1. Must be Durable.  The stairs get a ton of traffic from people and pets. I don’t want it to easily crush or snag
  2. Easy to Clean.
  3. Have a Pattern. A pattern or multi color carpet was important because I’m only vacuuming those stairs once a week. We have 2 cats and 2 dogs; one sheds so much I could knit a winter wardrobe from the collection of hair I vacuum each day. If there is hair, so be it, but that doesn’t mean I want to see it.
  4. Coordinating. The carpet must coordinate with a slate floor in the entry, gold walls and medium to dark stained trim, stairs and crown moulding.

The stairs are “L” shaped and split by a landing. The lower stretch of the stairs are open on one side with a medium finish. I should add that they are beautiful just as they are, but I slipped down a set of wood stairs one time and am lucky I didn’t break my neck. In my opinion, uncovered stairs are not  plus if you have a lot of traffic they will eventually look a mess.   As a result, I am opting to have a runner on the stairs. I’ll still see some exposed wood, but it will be safer for us.   

 The old carpet was 24″ wide and ran up the center of both the open stairs and then above the landing on the closed stairs. Because the first set of stairs in the entry hall  is wider than the top set, I made the runner 29″ wide to appear a bit grander and emphasize that the steps were wider. I stayed with the original 24″ wide runner for the remaining stairs. Note that a landing separated the stairs as you can see in the photo below.   

When making a runner you have several options:  

  1. The installer can simply fold under the ends of the carpet to make a finished look
  2. The company can pre-bind the ends with a matching fabric for a crisper, cleaner finish.
  3. Some carpet is available pre-bound and sold specifically for stairs.

I chose the second, but it’s really a matter of preference. It was about $200 more, but I like the finished look of a binding.   

Back to my selection: I chose a thick, medium height cut pile carpet with several colors of thread. It was quite a bit more, costing me $4.20 a square foot, but worth it to meet my requirements. The price included the same services as the carpet selected for the bedrooms. I also need to add that aesthetically, I wanted a gorgeous printed pattern or a loop with an interesting weave, but in the end practical won out. Darn animals.  

CHOOSING A RETAILER:  

I chose to work with a small retail store called Simply Floors. It’s a small family owned business that I preferred because:  

  • Someone  long ago recommended them to me.
  • I have used them before and like them.
  • I knew I could trust them.
  • Time was an issue and they could get my carpet installed quickly.
  • Their pricing is reasonable.

If you go to this design-a-room link courtesy of Armstrong on their website, you’ll find a cool tool that will show you what a room will look like with different finishes. It’s a great way to get design ideas.   

At the last-minute, my pain in the beloved husband wanted me to go to Lowe’s or Home Depot to get a better price. Very begrudgingly I did, but I will admit it was interesting to verify that Lowe’s and Home Depot were very, very similar in price. In fact, a bit more on one and a bit less on the other, but it was going to take month to get it in. Because of this, I stuck with my original choice.  Two days later, I ordered from Simply Floors.   

Note: This extra price shopping put me back two days and my stairs didn’t get done in time for my out-of-town guest, arghhhhh!!!! Then, as I said earlier, when they did come in they were wrong. That’s okay though, because I knew Simply Floors would make them right, which they are doing today.   

If you are comparing carpet prices, here are a few things to look for:  

  • Compare “thumb” tests.
  • Compare the entire package per square foot. Add the removal of old carpet, moving of furniture, if applicable, carpet, padding, installation and take-away. Then compare.
  • Give value to personnel. Choose a reputable business with people you trust. Relationships have a value.  If you have a problem down the line, a good relationship with a reputable company will be worth spending a bit extra per square foot. 
  • Quality installers may cost a bit more, but are sooooooo worth it in the end. It’s senseless to put money into something and then not have it done right.  If a quote is significantly less than other quotes you receive, going with the least expensive is NOT always the best route, because ultimately, you may end up paying more in the end or settling for something that is not up to the standards that you should expect. 

Although I went with a smaller family owned store, you can find good personnel  at a big-box-store as well as at a small mom and pop store… asking friends and family will quickly tell you who you can trust and I put a lot of value into reviews on-line as well.   

Tomorrow I’ll have “before”, “during” and “after” photos of the stairs. Art and James are finishing them up today, I can’t wait to go home to see the results. It was worth the wait to have it done properly. Next week I’ll share “before”, “during” and “after” photos of  of the two bedrooms which had a design change mid-process when my away-at-college-year-round-son put in his two cents.  Apparently, he is not ready to let go of his room yet, which is fine with me.  xoxox Amy  

PS.  Come home and visit Tyler!  

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Finding Inspiration and Hope from our Beloved Gulf Coast

Appreciating what I've always taken for granted

 

I spent a week every summer of my childhood on a beach. Most of those weeks were spent at the ocean on a Gulf Shore in Florida or Alabama. When I married and had children, my husband and I along with my parents, continued the tradition by creating beach memories of our own each year and in July of this year we will head to the beach again.  Recently, while on business in Florida, I joined my friend Gigi, her daughter Lisa, and Lisa’s family on the beaches of Sanibel Island on a Friday afternoon. The thought behind this impromptu trip was Lisa and Greg’s children might not get to see these beaches and their glorious beauty again for quite some time if the oil spill takes over these precious clear blue waters as predicted.
 
It was here in Sanibel, on a late Friday afternoon walk on the beach, I realized just how much these Gulf Shores are a part of who I am; how they inspire me and how much I love this beautiful world we live in.

Come take a walk with me…      

The view overlooking the Causeway as we headed towards Sanibel Island reminded me just how vast and blue these sparkling gulf waters really are.

 

This sign greeted us as we walked to the beach and the irony of it made me sad... on this day, stepping on dog poo and waking a sea turtle is the least of our worries.

 

It struck me as I approached the end of the walkway that I was surrounded by a sprinkling of flowers tucked into waves of sea grass along the path.

 

There were hundreds of yellow blooms...

 

mixed in with purple ones waving in the warm ocean breeze.

 

At the end of the walkway to the beach I looked to my right and remembered why I love the beach...

 

and then I looked to the left... it was as beautiful as ever.

 

Once on the beach, Lisa found the sand held something to explore regardless of where your eyes carried you.

 

Another look to the left revealed in the distance a working lighthouse to guide ships in the night.

 

Gigi, Master Seeker of Shells, immediately set out to explore the shoreline...

 

Loring settled in with her bucket and shovel as there were some serious sand castle building to be done. She never left that spot.

 

Grayson and I meandered along behind Gigi... he gathered shells and treasures while I snapped photos as dusk slowly settled down upon us.

 

Books were read...

 

amid shores with little white shells, seaweed and sand. What will it look like here in the next few months?

 

Birds flew...

 

dolphins swam...

 

dogs ran ahead of their owners...

 

and sand castles were built.

 

with shells on the turrets...

 

and feather toppers.

 

And as the sun started to set, I realized just how lucky I am to have enjoyed a beach like this for a week of almost every year of my life. I am reminded how these visits to the beach have inspired me in ways I have never really thought about before. I've bought candles for my home scented with sea breeze to relax and bring into my home the peace I find on a white sandy beach. I've designed interiors with the colors of sparkling water reflecting blue skies and white sand to make a harmonious space for a client to come home to. I've read books with my toes in the sand to expand my mind and become more. For all of this I am grateful.

 

 Let’s be inspired to put politics, personal agendas and big business aside to work together as one and clean up the mess we have in our beloved gulf waters. It’s the right thing to do and we owe this to our children. Amy xoxoxo      

Fans with Style…Bring on the Breeze.

A simple tower fan with remote control will keep you comfortable all night without turning down the air-conditioning. Don't you adore the sitting area in this bedroom?

 

It’s steamy hot here in Florida and I’m told it’s just as uncomfortable back home in the mid-west. When I get hot here, rather than kick down the air-conditioning, I simply turn a fan towards me till I cool off, which got me to thinking today: why don’t I have more fans in my home? This question led me to these two questions:   

Can you identify areas in your home that are hotter than others or activities that you do in specific rooms that cause you to become hot? For me it’s right before the air conditioning is going to kick back on, when I’m sleeping in my 2nd story bedroom or when I’m getting ready to go out; specifically while putting making on, blow drying my hair and then styling it.   

Where do you have fans? I have a smaller fan on my desk at the office, a ceiling fan in a few of our rooms and a small fan in our bedroom facing our bed for when we sleep –  that’s it. I really don’t have a good reason as to why I don’t have more fans. I’ve decided today I need to change that.    

Think about it… strategically located fans can immediately cool you down and save money on your energy bill. Sounds like a win-win situation don’t you think?  Plus, the bonus is there are lots of different styles to choose from including floor fans, ceiling fans, wall fans, decorative fans, etc. with finishes to choose such as black, white, chrome, bronze and more. Here’s a sampling…   

This is a wall mounted fan, but you can accomplish the same thing by bracketing a desk top fan as shown below

 

A tall shelf with books, cd's and a stereo helps to conceal the cord.

 

This clip-on fan provides the perfect breeze to keep you cool while doing a load of laundry or two

 

The taller a tower fan is, the more air it will circulate. My son has a 4o" black tower fan with remote like the one above in his college apartment and loves it - especially when it saves him on their utility bill. This fan is from Amazon.

 

I've been using this miniature tower fan all week - it's my new best friend. I can't wait to get one for my bathroom - I 'm getting one for my daughter's bathroom as well!

 

I found this clever little guy at Lamps Plus - wouldn't he be fun on a desk or end table?

 

And if you really didn't want to see your fan, this faux picture frame might just do the trick! In fact, during cooler months, you could inset a photo within the frame.

 

Really, the possibilities are endless. Adding fans to my home are definitely on my to-do-list this summer that’s for sure – are they on yours?  xoxoxo Amy

Italian food, Ocean View and a Lost Dog

This didn't last long...

 

I landed in Tampa,  Florida on Tuesday to take care of some personal business on Wednesday. By the time my friend collected me and we got on the road from the airport I was s-t-a-r-v-e-d. We were both starved. We decided to look for a place to eat near the beach and found this adorable Italian Restaurant called Cesare’s. Cesare greeted us at the door with a hug  and our waiter could not be more attentive. The hot bread with pesto dipping sauce was delicious.  

I decided to take lots of photo’s for you to show you all the cool things I’m experiencing on this trip, but apparently I was really, really hungry because the next picture I took was of the cannolis  after I wolfed down my four-cheese homemade manicotti…     

The cannolis were delicious

 

I know, I am soooooo bad. I didn’t take one more photo until after we shared the cannolis. I am striving to take more pictures today! Promise 🙂     

Wednesday morning we woke up in our beautiful Hyatt hotel in Clearwater Beach that we found on Priceline for a $100.00. I have to say it was quite a deal. The view is not too shabby, don’t you agree? A nice way to start the day. It makes me quite sad that these beautiful beaches, not to mention amazing wildlife, will be affected by the oil spill. It is just unimaginable.     

Beautiful. A gorgeous morning in Clearwater Beach

 

By late morning we ready to head back to my friend’s house… we were on the road by 12:30 pm or so, but by the time we did some serious damage at TJ Maxx, it was late afternoon. We had about a three-hour drive left. We were on the road again when all of a sudden… the two cars in front of us on a two- lane highway slammed on their brakes (a reason to wear seatbelts.)  

There in the middle of the road was a dog. Specifically, a big pit bull, who apparently was looking for her owner to come get her from the middle of the highway. We, along with another woman who witnessed the whole near death event,  promptly turned around and went back find her. This wasn’t hard because she kept going into the road, a road heavily traveled by semi-trucks and many, many cars. A big accident waiting  to happen, not to mention that she was most certainly going to get run over.     

Turns out she was well-trained and a gentle soul… and thirsty, really thirsty. After drinking several water bottles poured into a dish we had, she jumped into the back of the Excursion and was ready to go.   

Cute as a button

 

She sits on command and even gives her paw

 

even closer close up...

 

She had old tags that identified her as Sasha, but the number for her owner was disconnected

 

Long story short… animal services picked her up after spending the night at  Joanne’s house – the other woman who stopped. We went on our way hours later and are hoping the owner will claim her. Joanne learned his name through the tags and  discovered his page on Facebook. We haven’t heard from him yet, but his ex-wife who was found is trying to get a hold of him… don’t you love the  internet world? Let’s hope he lost her and did not dump her!!! Anyway… if I hear anything new, I’ll update right away!    

More adventures on the way today, so I have to run! xoxoxo Amy

The “What do you See” Challenge: The Airport

There's more than just people watching here...

 

It’s was Tuesday afternoon as I sat in the Tampa airport luggage terminal to write this. I had personal business in Tampa on Wednesday and will be doing business in another part of Florida for the next few weeks. As I sat there, I had this thought: wouldn’t it be fun to share the cool things we saw, experienced or noticed once a week?   

The last time I travelled to Florida I blogged more via photo’s and short descriptions than written stories because I had so many fun things to you share with you. For some reason, when I’m  in Florida. I open my eyes to “see” my surroundings more than I do when back home in the daily grind of things.   

One the best things I ever did was to take a workshop called The Artists Way, based on a book by Julie Cameron. I love workshops by the way, don’t you? A good workshop, much like our own Decorate Fabulously, will stretch your mind, teach you new things, grow your confidence and most of all provide a great time with new friends. The Artists Way encourages readers to go on an Artists Date once a week to visit some place new or see something that is new to you. It could be a current art exhibit, a wine tasting festival or simply a boutique that you’ve never been to before. The key is to purposefully go somewhere new, expand your mind and “see” new things.   

I love to visit local home tours, but I probably drive whoever I go with nuts because instead of walking into each home and oohing and ahhing… (I do that sometimes as well!) I prefer to really “see” each home. Okay, yes that fireplace is fabulous…but why is it fabulous? Is it the combination of materials? The art? The scale? And if I don’t like a room when I walk in it..why don’t I like it? Is it the color? The furniture? The furniture arrangement? Truly “seeing” things that surround you is a great way to expand your creativity, garner new ideas and understand what you love and don’t love.   

My challenge to you is to begin to “see” the things around you. I promise this simple act will expand your world and suddenly open up a world of  things you ‘ve never noticed before. Try it now…what is the ceiling above you like? How is the lighting? Do you love the art? What are the baseboards like? Even if you’re in a space you have been in a 100 times, you’ll probably see something new.   

Did you see the picture at the top of this post? I snapped that as I sat down to wait for my friend to pick me up at the airport. A few seconds later everyone had gotten their luggage and it looked like this…   

Once everyone from that flight had gotten their luggage, I had time to really look around the baggage terminal

 

 What I started to notice was the use of shapes, curves and swirls combined to create a feel of movement and motion. How many curves and lines to do you see? Once you start looking, you’ll be amazed.   

Here’s a bigger picture…double click to make it larger.   

Here's a larger picture...look at the floor, ceiling, fixtures...everywhere. It's all about curves, lines and shapes.

 

My “guess” is that they used geometrical shapes, curves and patterns to encourage travellers to keep moving along. The airport is a busy place and time is important. You need time to get through security and time to get to the plane on time. A well designed interior will have a comfortable flow to encourage an easy traffic flow and for visitors to move with ease. This is on a huge scale, but we really should plan the same in our homes. A home with the same principles is easy to move from space to space and your eye encouraged to move from wall to wall, much like they did at the airport I was at in Florida   

This week I challenge you to take time to really “see” what’s around you. Make sure to share with me next week all the exciting things you see!  I’m going to take lots of photo’s to share as well! xoxoxo Amy