Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Our house in Bush Hills, the one where I lived until I was 13, had rugs. I can’t remember them very well. One, I think, was green with pink flowers. When we moved, we got rid of all the rugs.

Our new house had wall to wall carpet in the living room and dining room. My mother picked out the color; it was soft beige – apparently very fashionable in 1958. But what way odd was that they put this wall to wall carpet over hard wood floors – beautiful, new hardwoods. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but then I was just a teenager. My father didn’t understand it either, but he went along with it.

Within twenty years, they had ripped up all the wall to wall carpet and replaced it with Karastan oriental style rugs. The floors were still in pretty good shape, preserved by the then ugly beige carpet. It would have been better to have someone come and work on them a bit more, but that didn’t happen until we sold the house after my mother died.

My mother bought a gray rug from the next doors neighbors at a garage sale about the time I was graduating from high school. For a few years, it lived in the guest room.

That gray carpet followed me to graduate school and into my bedroom. My roommate and I bought (for $35) this really strange brown and yellow rug for the living room. Our apartment had hardwood floors, and even in 1969 it was fashionable to cover them up, though not completely.

That gray rug finally was banished from my life when I was married and it went back to my mother’s house and back in the guest room where it lived until we sold my parents’ house decades later.

We began our married life in a small, two-bedroom apartment in Illinois. We had beige wall-to-wall carpet everywhere but the kitchen. That apartment, while fine for my husband by himself, was not fine for the two of us.

Within a few months, we had moved across town to a brand new apartment building. We had much more room and the carpet was much more fashionable. We had a choice of harvest gold or avocado green shag carpet. Green was our first choice and that dictated a decade of color decision-making for furniture and appliances and more.

Our house in California had avocado green shag carpet throughout, except in the family room where is had a flat weave green carpet. We replaced the carpet in two of the bedrooms with a gold flat weave carpet (similar to what is popular today), as we knew shag was on its way out.

Meanwhile, my parents mostly stayed out of the whole shag carpet thing, with the exception of my bedroom (which I had, of course, vacated). My mother, being very handy, put down aqua shag carpet tiles in there. It looked pretty good at the time (but not a pretty site when we had to take them out to sell the house).

When we moved to Maryland, the house we bought had green shag carpet in the living room. It was similar to what we had left behind in California. The bedrooms didn’t have any carpets in place, but the hardwood floors had all been stained very dark and didn’t look great. We replaced the bedroom carpet with ubiquitous beige. Soon the hallway carpet wore out and we replaced it with beige tweedy heavy duty carpet. The living shag was soon history, replaced with a soft green carpet.

When we sold the house in 1991, we replaced all the carpets (except the living room) with ubiquitous beige burbar, as recommended by the real estate people.

My father spent his last couple of years in a very nice senior high rise in Birmingham. The place was, you guessed it, carpeted with ubiquitous beige throughout. My father put one of their nice Karastan rugs in the living room on top of the beige carpet (what you do in senior housing when you have nice rugs to show). The other Karastans went to my basement – all rolled up.

When we moved into our new house a couple of years later, we put my parents’ Karastans in the living room and dining room, and their area rugs in the hallways. We bought stair runners and other area rugs in the same pattern (30 years later) and they matched perfectly.

It is now 14 years later and those rugs are still going strong with almost no signs of wear.

For the rest of the new house, we also selected Karastan because of its durability. The upstairs hallway of our house is hardwood floors, but the bedrooms are carpeted (I did not put hardwood floors under any place I intended for wall to wall carpet). We selected a palette of soft green, blue, and pink for the upstairs bedroom carpets. Each bedroom is a different color. For our master bedroom we have a light oatmeal sort of color that I have learned to regret because it spots easily.

In my home office, we got a nice gray dense, low weave wall to wall carpet that has worn like iron. I think it was also made by Karastan.

For the kitchen dining area we bought a specially cut trapezoidal shaped pink carpet with a light colored border. It looked great until the grandchildren came along. It got nastier and nastier until it was retired. It was Karastan and great, but it could only take so much. Now (and it will be that way until the grandchildren are grown) there is no carpet under the kitchen table.

In the family room we had a matching pink Karastan rug in place. After about ten years I got to the point where it was too spotted to go on living, so off it went to the dump. At about that same time, I had moved from one office to another and had a nice similarly sized Karastan blue carpet as surplus. That one went right into the family room and still looks decent today.

For the basement family room we opted for a gray good quality Karastan wall to wall. It is still in reasonably good condition, despite some rough treatment. My goal is to shampoo it and hope that it is good for another five years or so.

I don’t know what carpet adventures await me in the rest of my life. But if I ever have to leave this house for senior living I suspect I will take at least one Karastan oriental with me to put over the ubiquitous beige wall to wall carpet that will surely be there awaiting me.