Interiorssneak peeks

15 Rooms That Make Wall-to-Wall Carpet Shine

by Grace Bonney

Ever since our discussion about all-white walls, I’ve been thinking a lot about design styles — especially those that get a bad rap. And when it comes to design choices that people seem to unilaterally loathe these days, it’s wall-to-wall carpet. A quick search through our archive of over 17,000 posts reveals that the word “removed” was the most commonly appearing word before the word “carpet.” It feels as if every home tour, makeover and shop visit we’ve ever run features some version of someone having pulled up wall-to-wall carpet in exchange for wood, tile or concrete floors.

But what if that’s not an option? For most renters, ripping out existing carpet isn’t a choice they have. And for many of us, putting in new hardwood floors (because sadly, the only thing some carpet is hiding is even worse sub-flooring below) isn’t in the budget. And for even more of us, we happen to like the way soft flooring feels under our feet. I grew up in homes with wall-to-wall carpeting (always installed by previous owners and always in odd shades of green), and whenever we drive to Virginia to visit, I’m reminded of how nice it is to walk around barefoot on something soft and cushy. So today I thought I’d share some beautiful interiors that embrace wall-to-wall carpeting in a number of styles, colors and textures. For all of you who have emailed me with the question, “What do I do with this carpet?” — these homes are the answer. They’ve embraced the look, learned to layer area rugs stylishly on top, and proven that wood floors aren’t the only option for a gorgeous space.

If we didn't have dogs and a cat, I would be all about a light-colored rug. Light-colored everything, really. But it can be hard to pull off if you have kids or pets that create messes. But if you have a home where you don't need to worry about dirty shoes or dogs tracking in mud, this look is such a soothing and relaxing one. I love the idea of waking up each morning and stepping out onto cushy white floors. Home via Homestyle Magazine, via New Zealand Design Blog, via Apartment Therapy.
This has to be one of my favorite carpets I've seen in a long time. The Durham Hotel, designed by Commune Design, has a grand dining room with a red and white carpet inspired by Anni Albers.
Amber's wall-to-wall carpet gets a little extra boost from a sheepskin.
Garrett from our DS family knows his way around wall-to-wall carpet. I love the way he used a striped rug (at a diagonal) to create a separate seating area in the living room.
I have always wanted wall-to-wall sisal carpeting, like this kind shown here at Desire to Inspire. Especially against a classic dark navy or black wall, it has such a sophisticated feel. Rugs layered on top define smaller spaces within the room well, too.
Bennett and Arielle's California home has a neutral tan carpet that is the type almost all carpeted homes and apartments seem to come with these days. Instead of ripping it out, they chose to work with it and embrace the sandy hue.
In spaces where they wanted more color (or to hide higher-traffic wear and tear), Bennett and Ariele layered patterned area rugs on top. Layering rugs on top of carpet is a great way to define space and bring some extra detail into a room without changing the full floor.
I've gotta say: I LOVE this pink carpet. I have a feeling most homeowners would walk in and rip this out, but I would cherish it forever -- much like the maligned pink bathrooms of 70s- and 80s-era homes. Photo from Living Pink, via Apartment Therapy.
I love this dark grey carpet against dark grey walls at Desire to Inspire. The color will hide a multitude of problems (assuming you don't have pets with white fur like we do) and has a great monochrome effect with the walls.
Dressing rooms with carpet are the stuff of my dream home. This patterned style from Traditional Home Magazine is another wonderful way to keep carpet going, but still embrace a more contemporary feel.
If you like the look of sisal but want something a little less chunky, this thin textured carpet is a great option. It doesn't distract from the overall neutral palette of the room (I love those pops of yellow, though) and it has just enough pattern to hide a little wear and tear over the years. Photo by Lucas Allen for House & Garden UK.
This in-between shade of grey is a nice compromise between the standard tan we usually see with wall-to-wall carpet and the super dark colors a lot of us would gravitate towards to hide spots and stains. Photography by Nicolas Matheus for Marie Claire Mason, via Apartment Therapy.
I love the color palette happening in this room and the way the black-and-white-patterned carpet plays into it. It's the perfect dreamy reading nook -- and those carpets will ensure it stays soft and quiet, too. Photography by Pieter Estersohn for Architectural Digest.
Sisal on top of carpet? Why not! Dwellings by Devore created this space that creates a tone-on-tone look with textured sisal on top of a tan base carpet.
I'm having a hard time taking my eyes off this amazing bed frame (Gold bamboo? I love it!), but the patterned wall-to-wall carpeting happening in this room feels cozy and minimal all at the same time. Photography by Ashley Gieseking for Domino Magazine.

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  • This is a great round up! I’m squarely in the no carpet camp because I value my big dogs and my sanity more than under-foot comfort, but it’s good to know there are such beautiful options out there these days. What about taking on other design elements that get a bad rap like dark wood cabinetry in the kitchen (I know that’s not completely OUT as there are a lot of modern kitchens embracing wood nowadays…but I have a dark kitchen with nice new dark wood cabinetry and I’m having a hard time figuring out how to lighten things up in there without painting it all white), ceiling fans (I couldn’t survive summers in Austin without one in every room) or natural wood paneling/trim?

    • Would it be possible just to paint the upper cabinets white? That sometimes works.

  • Thank you! We JUST bought a house with wall-to-wall carpeting and I’m clueless about how to design around it (I’d like to remove it — cushy floors and all). I’ve been cruising Pinterest for ideas and all my searches including the word “carpet” are just area rugs!

  • Even if I’m not a big fan of wall-to-wall carpets (I prefer wood or tile floors), this is really a great post, with so many good ideas.
    Anna From Italy

  • This is a great round up, but all of these carpets are in really tolerable colors and patterns! I’d like to see some homes that have worked with some of the more unfortunate realities of old carpet.
    We moved into a rental this spring that has GREEN carpet and and walnut brown shutters, trims, and door frames. When I say green, I mean like Pantone “Lush Meadow”. It’s been a challenge that I’ve tried to solve with white walls, and furniture either brown or white, with accents in greens. I try to just imagine it as grass and I’m living outdoors, but it’s hard.

    • Steven

      My parents’ house has green carpet that color, I’ve come to love it. I’ve found that it works with just about every color in Martha Stewart’s paint collection- all the eggshell blues and tans and pale yellows.

      Will they let you paint the brown trim white?


      • Thanks for the tip on the MS paint collection! The wood is actually stained walnut and not painted, so I would never dream of painting it, though people suggest to me that I do it all the time. It pains me to see nice wood painted. I actually really love the woodwork. I don’t think the landlords would ever approve of such a thing, either. They barely allowed me to repaint the walls white (which is the preexisting color).

        • Gotcha. My thought would be to just lighten everything else up around it. But if you want to upload or share a link to a picture of the space here, I’m happy to check it out :)


  • I don’t get the hate for wall-to-wall carpeting (of course, depending on the colour/quality). Wood flooring looks nice but I don’t think I could give up the softness, warmth, and comfort of wall-to-wall carpeting (wtwc). Plus wtwc is great for dampening noise. I’ve been in too many houses with wood flooring where sounds just bounce and echo all over the place (especially when you include barking dogs, playing kids and a loud TV). And when playing with young kids, wtwc is definitely more comfortable on the knees! One more bonus: less likely for dropped items to break (including bones when tripping)!

    • I am so with you on wall-to-wall. To me, wood floors are cold, loud and dusty. But on ebay, all i can find in a search are area rugs. Anyone know where to search for wall-to-wall? Besides my interior design folks?

  • I am so over the ‘never carpet, granite counters, stainless steel only type mantras you see on TV from home buyers. Bedrooms, I always like carpet. My Stairs and living room ….. love carpet, at my age Stairs need more traction and my living room floor is cold. Where I do have hardwood floors, kitchen and dining room the dog alwyas slides and has a hard time getting up. Thus carpet where practical and it is a lot easier for me to vacuum than sweep and shine the wood floors. That is pain to me. Swifter everyday.

  • Thank you Grace! I love how you really get to the heart of great design: combining what you love with what you have to get to where you want to be. I enjoy both my carpeted bedrooms and the wood floors in other areas of my house. Each space offers different challenges and rewards. Keep up the great articles!

  • I have carpet I my bedrooms which is nice in winter. But I generally prefer hard floors especially in high traffic areas with area rugs and runners where required.

  • Grace, what a brilliant post this is. Do I dare commenting on some of the pics?
    5, 10 & 13 – yeah – but honestly, that’s not difficult to love. Clearly those people have given much thought to their choice. 10 is simply perfect – I would love that.
    8 – the pink one – No! – I had a pink carpet of very good quality in a rental appartment (and we paid a lot for it because if not, the previous rent(n?)ers would have had it ripped out at their own cost and in Switzerland, if you find your dream-appt, you’d pay anything to get it – even more so when you rent it!). It was a beautiful colour but with children and dog it was a total nightmare. PLUS it surrounded a large fireplace…
    No 13 – I thought commenting on a space in beautiful BLUE hues but it said it was black… I’m reconsidering – I love the BLUES! No, I LOvE that room – huge libraries filled with books, roomy fauteuils, I’m blown off.
    But finally, a sisal surrounding your bed (no 14) – no thank you!
    I had laid sisal wtwc in another rental flat (v.much as in no 5), and the numer of times we had little ‘accidents’ with stuff getting into the skin of feet were countless – but boy, it looked gorgeous! :) AND we had a large Berber rug and other rugs/kelims to give the place more of a ‘homey’ feeling. We resolved some of the problems with sisal by making sure that the ‘barefoot’ areas were covered by cheap & cheerful cotton rugs, easily washed in the machine & really good for having pets and kids.

    Thank you for this very interesting and ‘different’ post. You’re doing great work. Kind regards from a ‘parquet & tiles’ 1920 home in France – (covered in I don’t know how many rugs of all ages & denominations…)

  • Pink bathrooms are from the 50s (although some are older), because it was Mamie Eisenhower’s favorite. Although they were probably renovated in the 70s and 80s, if that’s what you meant.

  • I grew up with carpet but I’ve had hardwoods ever since I moved into my first “grown up” apartment. I even got rid of the rugs because cleaning carpet spots is NOT my strong suit.

    I didn’t event really think about it until my 4 year old son was trying to describe to me something he really liked at his Grandma’s house. The “soft fabric on the floor”. He meant the carpet but didn’t even know the word! Cracked me up and made me think I should buy the poor kid a rug to play Legos on at least ;)

  • Grace, I love this post! Here in the UK carpets are pretty standard, even if the ground floor might have wooden or tiled floors, typically bedrooms will be wall to wall carpeted. Sometimes you’ll still find carpeted bathrooms here too. We had to replace our old carpets last year and I really struggled finding any design inspiration but we eventually went with a lovely plain dark grey. It’s great, but I did buy a carpet washer/vax machine to go with it – even darker colours can’t compete with kitty furballs… These pictures make me a little less sad that we don’t have have beautiful wood floors throughout so thank you!

  • I am so happy that you have created this post – for those of us who rent our homes, and some rooms are carpeted, finding ways of making it “fit” can be difficult and this is a really helpful guide.

    Laura xo


  • As a renter, I appreciate that you found some great inspiration for how to deal with wall to wall carpet! I’m lucky that our current apartment (we’ve been here for only 2 months) has brand new carpet, so it’s not something we need to cover up. However, I do like that some people choose to worth with their carpet, which is what we’re choosing to do!

  • I must say, this is a great collection of wall-to-wall carpets. These rooms do make them look chic. But I still can’t look at wall-to-wall carpet without thinking about the “luxurious” apple green one inch pile in my mother-in-law’s dining room with what feels like a one-inch carpet pad under it. I can’t walk across that room without tripping! (And my sisters-in-law side-eye me for not helping clear the good porcelain plates off the table. Oh, well. At least the carpet isn’t full of porcelain shards. )

  • I’m glad that you posted this. You are right that ripping up carpet is not always an option. Sometimes carpet is better. However, I do also like your suggestion of not being afraid to use throw rugs even in a carpeted room. I do it because I have a dog and kids, but I should probably try and use it to add some extra style to my carpeted rooms.

  • Carpet will make your home look more warm, but on the other side, sometimes its really hard to clean carpet, example when your drink was slipped :(

  • This kind of critical thinking is what keeps me coming back to your blog. I love how you question trends that we take for granted these days, with both honesty and grace. Congratulations again on this post.

  • This was really eye-opening article. I am not a very “brave” decorator so I always have doubts if I do it right, but thanks to you I will be afraid no more :). I just bought a few new carpets at Doris Leslie Blau and can’t wait to re-decorate my living room!

  • I find it is really useful for me. Thank you so much for sharing. I will suggest your posts to my friends. Hope more people will appreciate your posts.

  • We have a carpet in our open planned/dining room.

    Everyone tells me to to keeps it (even a designer) because it is in good condition, warmer and less maintenance then hardwood floors, good for kids safety and sound proofing and is a non-offensive in a medium grey colour.

    These are all good reasons and i’m all for it in bedrooms/play rooms … BUT carpet in a dining room and entry plus kids is a disgusting! And I hate the look. I love beautiful wooden floors but do they look strange in a 1980’s house?

    Would love any opinions Thank YOU!

  • I love your ideas!
    We have a town house and need to replace the wall to wall carpeting in the Master bedroom and hallway and two sets of stairs. The main level is hardwood. No kids but we have one small dog and a husband who can forget to remove his shoes if the weather is bad. I picked out a tight woven tweedy carpet for the stairs and hall and a lighter cushy one for the master Bedroom and his OPINION is that no one has different carpets and colors for each room anymore. Help with this. (Also we may sell it in a year or two so we want it to look nice).

  • Thanks for sharing, the information is very useful. The carpets are the important part for home improvement and it makes the home more beautiful. keep sharing like this