To carpet or not to carpet? That is the question. In the affluent area of South West London, there is evidence that the beauty of a hardwood floor is rising. One wonders what happened to wall-to-wall carpeting?
Sales of carpets fell by almost 20% across the UK in 2009 and recovered to their 2008 level in 2015. Meanwhile the turnover of Retail Trade rose by just over 20% in the same period. In other words, sales of carpets still have not recovered in real terms. Meanwhile, official figures show solid and engineered wood (see below) have been growing especially ion 2014 and 2015, 4% for the year 2015/16.
Kevin Keane, of the Natural Wood Floor Company based in Wandsworth, has seen growth in sales of hardwood flooring soar since he started twenty years ago. So, one can argue there is a growing preference for uncarpeted hardwood floors in his catchment area.
Kevin continues: “A beautiful wood floor is a far better long-term proposition than carpeting. The outlay costs a bit more but it will last for far longer. And then there’s Technology”, he says. “It has enabled us to offer many more woods types with striking grains and colours that you just wouldn’t want to hide under a carpet; there are colours and finishes that would be a daft to cover up. On top of that, we can offer engineered wood, stronger and more resilient than the timber on its own, providing all kinds of patterns: Parquet, Chevron, Basket Weave, Verseilles and many more.”
Some say it’s the continental influence: the French, in particular, who have populated Chelsea, Fulham, Wandsworth and Putney because of the proximity to the Lycées, love wood floors and rarely put down fitted carpets. Rugs – yes. Fitted carpets – no!
Tim Hobern of HS Wood Flooring, has another theory: carpets are hosts to myriad horrors like microbes and dust mites. “I can work one of our dust-free sanding machines without the necessity of a mask. But lifting a carpet .. ugh – It’s essential! The mask prevents the foul smelling, germ-ridden cloud from entering your lungs but it gets in your hair, your ears, your eyes. I have to have a shower afterwards.”
Wall-to-wall carpets may look lovely but they are a haven to health risks – especially if there are pets. And there’s a fallacy: wood floors don’t have to be cold underfoot.
Does any of this account for Jason and Claire Lloyd-Evans’ choice of a hardwood floor for their new house in Putney? “Not at all,” says Jason. “We saw samples from the Natural Wood Floor people and chose an oiled Grey White Oak. It was exactly what we wanted, never mind what the market says. We love colour and the warm neutral tones of the wood that dramatise the colour of our furnishings.”
HS Wood Flooring fitted the floors, oversized parquet for the ground floor, boards upstairs. The house is Edwardian with a nod to Victorian interior design: beautiful stained glass in the front door and a strikingly tiled entrance hall. There is a 5mm lip in the levels between the hall and the living rooms so the fitters put in a bevelled threshold. “This is very common in many houses in South West London,” says Tim Hobern. “We could take the floor level down to match the hall but the expense cannot be justified.”
Jason is a Creative – our description, not his – so he and his wife have eye for design. They know what they want and are not influenced by what the world likes. Jason is a backstage photographer whose photographs you may have seen in Beauty, Bazaar, Vogue, Cosmo, Grazia, Harpers and many more titles circulating in the world’s western and eastern hemispheres. He goes behind the catwalk and snatches impromptu shots of supermodels showing off the creations of the world’s most famous couturiers.
“Exciting? Yes, but exhausting. I am often away for long periods and I love coming back to my family and my amazing new home,” he says.