Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

9.22.2008

Wall-to-Wall II

Wall-to-wall carpeting seems to elicit strong reactions. Especially when it is a deep, solid color. (Yes, there are certainly more pressing issues in the world today, but among some of my friends and relatives a minor debate has been launched by the wall-to-wall "Augusta National green" seen in the October Domino -- the Sommers nursery.)

Whether you think it is bold and graphic, or you just are not a fan, wall-to-wall was used in some of the most celebrated mid-century American homes. Above is a fun image I stumbled across: Babe Paley at Kiluna Farm as seen in The World in Vogue.

If the carpet here is not literally wall-to-wall, the impact of an almost completely covered floor is similar. What strikes me about the interior -- apart from masterpieces by Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne and Rousseau -- is the mix of colors. Softer versions of the primary hues red, blue and yellow are coexisting. And that tufted yellow sofa is a real standout. Paley's dress is by Charles James.

21 comments:

The Peak of Chic said...

Yes, the whole wall to wall carpet issue seems to elicit strong responses! I always use wall to wall wool carpet in my bedrooms as it is cozy and warm. I think the same holds true for a nursery too. I think it's a matter of using more modern looking carpet.

virginia said...

as a mid-century relic myself, i need to point out that wall-to-wall carpet was THE fashion statement in the early 60's. my mother's friend, joan, was the first on the block to have wall-to-wall in her home.

it was as coveted as stainless steel appliances were a decade ago...she was also the first to have a "designer" living room, with cast concrete end tables.

MABELLE said...

I love wall-to-wall carpeting when it's a sisal/seagrass carpet! That way you can still define spaces by putting other rugs on top of it, and have a nice layered look. Some of the most amazing homes that I saw during my domino days had this carpeting, and it feels nice underfoot.

Style Court said...

Jennifer -- you summed it up well :) Thanks for the perspective.

Style Court said...

Virginia -- such a good point. What comes around goes around!

Style Court said...

Michelle -- I also am a big fan of patterned wool rugs layered over sisal!

Ms. Wis. said...

My house is mid-century and the guest bedroom and library have wall-to-wall. It is outdated in style and needs to be replaced with a more contemporary version.

But the need is not outdated as both rooms are over the garage and need the carpet for the physical and psychological warmth.

I like bare floors and opted for a pair of matching Kurdish Kilims (from Marla M.) so we step out of bed onto warmth which is when I want it most.

Interesting how the shimmer of Paley's dress really seems to bring the room to life — or maybe it is just having a person in the picture that enervates the whole scene!

Brilliant Asylum said...

Having tried it both ways, I absolutely prefer wall-to-wall in the bedroom. It's easier, quieter, and warmer. I don't think I would want it in anywhere else in the house--especially where people eat and regularly wear shoes. Plus, I like the quick change aspect that an area rug (or none at all) can provide. It should be interesting to see if a wall-to-wall revolution occurs.

Cote de Texas said...

pet peeve for me, plain wall to wall carpeting - imo it ruins every room. BUT - wall to wall seagrass or wall to wall patterned carpet can MAKE a room. It is just a matter of educating the client, but truthfully, most clients don't want to be educated about wall to wall. They love it plain.

Great topic though - she was such a classic.

Mrs. Blandings said...

The combination of the colors knocks me off my feet every time. Red, green, turquoise, yellow - a little gilt, a little painted wood. I've come back three times just to look at the red of her dress.

As for wall-to-wall, it always seems there's a place for everything when it's right. I still regret not taking the antelope in the office to the wall. Darn Mr. Blandings.

stljoie said...

Well, I clicked on your Sommers link and did not get the nursery but did find exactly the same gold couch as Paley's. I like oriental carpets in the living room. In my bedroom I have a large floral hooked rug that I love. We have wall to wall in our den library because there was no other choice. It looks like a tight diamond weave sisal. I find it difficult to maintain

Karena said...

I love a neutral wall to wall in most rooms with patterned rugs scatterred over for pops of color. Great post Courtney,& yes her fabulous dress! So rare to see these gowns worn nowadays, even at galas. A bydone era.

milly said...

such a good debate!! wall to wall has never been my favorite, but what do I know...i work in finance and just have a "design-esque" blog!! it just reminds me of my room growing up that, although was nice, was very 1980's.

If i was going to do wall to wall - I would want it to be a pattern of some sort i think... oh I DONT KNOW!! I guess, like anything, if done right it can be great.

Love your blog, added you to my blog list!! thanks for the inspiration.

Style Court said...

milly and everyone -- I so appreciate your comments. I am without power and just trying to reply via iPhone! Please stay tuned for fresh posts!

elizabeth said...

I never got the appeal of wall to wall carpet until I went London several years ago. There, it was used to warm up cold spaces and cozy up old architecture. its quality was always very good.It was comforting. Here it's too often thrown down as a cheap alternative in new construction.

BTW that nursery, I'm sorry, was horrible. I'm all for tongue in cheek decorating, but that was just way too much.

Style Court said...

hi Elizabeth -- thanks for the perspective.helpful. Another angle is that children love strong color and probably floors that look like a lawn :) I should say happy colors -- that was closer to my reaction.

Style Court said...

Also, I agree, the green carpet is a love or hate thing. I just know a little girl who loves it :)

Sacheverelle said...

Wall to wall is nice & cozy for bedrooms but not practical for high traffic areas in a home.
Pets & kids especially, really do a number on carpeting. It's so much more work to care for than say hardwood, which is what we have in the rest of the house.
I hate having to do the Rug Doctor cleaning, what a pain!

Style Court said...

sacheverelle -- i've seen my sister stuggle with dogs, kids and wall to wall!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

I would love to see more photographs of that house under BP's taste (I think Billy Baldwin worked on it quite a bit in the 1950s and 1960s). It was decorated earlier by Paley's first wife, the former Dorothy Hart, in collaboration with Syrie Maugham.

Style Court said...

Hi Aesthete -- I think this is the only image of the house in my Vogue book. I'll double check. It is indeed in the 1950s chapter, interestingly right next to J Bouvier's "Prix" essay for Vogue.