rug-1Wall-to-wall carpet is rare in France. Homes have wood, tile or stone on the floors, with area rugs, especially antique ones.

The first time I saw a home with tiled floors in the living room, I thought, ick! This is like the rec room in my parents’ basement. But I quickly came to distinguish nice materials, like terrazzo, from wannabe terrazzo-patterned lineoleum. And I really love encaustic and terra cotta tiles.3-rugs-to-washWhen I mention wall-to-wall carpet, my French friends wrinkle their noses. It’s so dirty, they say. Not hygenic.

In France, one of the rites of summer is washing the rugs. I wait for a stretch of nice, hot days and haul out one rug at a time, set up over garden chairs. It gets sprayed down with a hose, rubbed with a big brush, and the one under the dining table gets a little Woolite. Then a rinse and it’s left to drip dry. I do it on the east side of the house, so that the rugs don’t sit in direct afternoon sunshine.

rug-2This year has been extra busy, with the carpets we bought for the apartments needing a wash.

stain
A silk rug we bought second-hand, with stains
stain-gone
The rug after a wash, with a little Woolite on the stains, which disappeared.

Once I saw an enormous rug hanging to dry at a village lavoir, or public washing house. That would have been convenient for washing, and drying, but a hassle to haul it back and forth–they are extremely heavy. Maybe it was someone who didn’t have a courtyard.

Do you like wall-to-wall carpet or area rugs?

 

 

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35 thoughts on “Pulling Out the Rug

  1. If you don’t want to risk getting the rugs wet, carpet beaters work well. You can’t always be sure that a genuine tribal rug (ie Turkish, Persian, Oriental…) is dye fast even if it is modern. If the rug is fragile, lay it out upside down on the ground on a sheet (plastic or textile). Beat it with something flat and flexible. Where I worked in England for a big historic conservation organisation we had paddles made for us out of recycled tyres. They were kind of like large squarer slightly bendy pingpong bats. It’s important to get all the grit out of these mats if you can because it will slowly cut through fibres and damage the rug.

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    1. Yes, I’ve seen rug beaters made of bent wood–quite beautiful–at brocantes.
      I was worried the new ones might run (the others have been washed annually for years), but they were fine.

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  2. I almost installed wall-to-wall in my back bedroom closet because the original flooring I salvaged to reinstall came up a little short. I ended up buying more. Everyone told me I’d regret it more than I’d miss the $125 or so I spent. I think the big difference for tile and stone floors in the main living space is that it makes sense in warm climates. Around here it would be terrible unless you have radiant heat.

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  3. When I lived in Montpellier my host father was an architect and he told me that wood construction is more expensive than masonry and steel. My best friend from college is Indian and her dad loves wood best but used it sparingly in their apartment in Mumbai because it makes the rooms too hot.

    And me, too, I like wood best. Specifically site-finished wood, and preferably old.

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  4. I find tile floors in the UK so cold….my brother has them and I sometimes take my slippers when I visit. I like the look of rugs on wooden floors but when I moved to this house the floor was covered with nasty cheap laminate which was not a good look. For warmth and ease of cleaning I chose wall to wall carpet but in a hot climate I can see the appeal of rugs on a tile/wood floor. Great results with the Woolite!

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  5. As a Swede I must admit that wall-to-wall carpet is a bit of a “dirty word” in my country and we haven’t seen any since the 70’s. We have more or less 100% wooden floors and some linoleum (and maybe still a few PVC floors not yet phased out). In husifrankrike.com we will have antique terre cuite in the basement rooms and oak planks in the first floor and in the grenier.

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  6. Hard wood floors and slate…that’s what I have. I have a few tribal rugs and one very old Russian rug. I have rug envy. The older the bettter. Wonderful art for the floor.

    Ali

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    1. Oh, yes, they really are works of art. I went to some rug shops in Morocco. Everybody talks about it as if it’s terrible. It was FANTASTIC. I sat and sipped mint tea and they paraded one work of art after another before me, like being in an art gallery. I wanted to buy them all.

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  7. I love rugs with a passion. I have a beautiful wool Persian which needs cleaning due to builder’s rubble etc, an old Indian rug , a crewelwork linen rug and a big kilim in the salon. They all need cleaning!! I will try the woolite.
    As for floors, we have no old tiles in cave so are putting in underfloor heating and small pale terrazzo tiles. In salon it’s 19thc wood flooring, very battered but its staying.
    In kitchen, Trevor’s trad look new wood floor which will age up great. Tulip bedroom, very old wide oak floorboards which I will just clean and go.
    Terrace bedroom 70 year old parquet, I’ve limewaxed it because it wasn’t characterful or charming. Bathrooms both tiled. We also have a small panel if old hexagonal tomettes

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      1. We had it in our downstairs shower room and breakfast room in UK in the modern extension. It worked really well and was not costly to run at all.
        I think in the 30 foot long cave its a good option.

        Trev will install it and we will pay an electrician to check and connect it

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  8. Area rugs are the only way to go. When I lived in Persia I learned a great deal about how they treat REAL Persian rugs…they put them on the highway to age them prematurely (???)
    they wash them with hoses, nothing can harm them because the dyes are so good.

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  9. I personally like wood floors, but I can handle tile floors if they’re more organic looking, like a terracotta type thing. When I see French homes with the large white tiles, I automatically think of a bathroom! I just have to wonder about who thought that would be a great look in the first place. I like area rugs and I didn’t know that you could hose them off outside – that’s super!

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    1. I know what you mean–there are some tiles that are just vile for a living room. And yet.
      We have terra cotta tiles in our apartments, and since they are 400 years old we are obliged (it’s in a historic district) to keep them. I don’t mind because they are beautiful, even if they are a little wonky. Maybe they are beautiful because they are wonky. Anyway, we do need rugs because they absorb sound and make the place feel different, more cozy.

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  10. I would never live in a house with wall-to-wall carpeting again! We pulled ours up about 5 years ago and replaced with hardwood floors throughout the house. So much easier, even though I’m constantly sweeping up dog hair dust bunnies. We don’t have many area rugs (don’t really need them here, doesn’t get that cold).

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  11. I have one enormous oriental rug in the sitting room, which was my grandmother’s, but I don’t think I have ever washed it. A friend takes her rugs up into the hills after it has snowed, and beats the hell out of them, upside down, on the snow. I think she also rubs them with snow and brushes them with a stiff broom. I imagine that they don’t get wet that way, so long as it is cold enough. I have rag rugs in the kitchen, hall and dining room, and they go in the washing machine on a cold cycle in spring and autumn, when they will dry quickly!

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  12. Yours are wonderful rugs. Absolutely agree about wall-to-wall stuff. A friend calls it a “filth magnet”. And yet, it’s builder standard in new construction. Gah.
    I have a couple too big to handle alone, so they go to a specialty cleaner, an Iranian so skilled that he can glance at the wrong side of a rolled-up rug and tell me where it was made and when. And I’m lucky enough to have a couple from a grandfather who bought them back when.

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