Choosing a carpet

Last week, I stood beside one of my customers in her newly painted living room and tackled the kind of dilemma that anyone who ever bought a carpet has had to face. She’d lined up a whole bunch of carpet samples against her newly painted living room wall, ranging in shades and styles, covering every price point from too cheap to really quite expensive. She stood with her head in her hands and, to be absolutely honest, I thought she was about to burst into tears.

Staring in the face of crisis, I suggested that she put the kettle on and make us all a cup of tea.

Brew made, we settled down to the process of elimination that would transform her half-finished room into the magnificent, cosy living space that’s now the centrepiece of a beautiful home.

‘Let’s forget about price for the moment,’ I suggested, ‘let’s focus on what you need.’

A splash of colour

She’d picked a range of colours. Frankly all of them would have worked with the pale yellow she’d chosen for the walls. Of course, each would have had a different impact on the room but that’s not the point. ‘Which colours do you like?’ I asked. Not surprisingly, she had some favourites amongst the samples and some that she really wasn’t sure about. We ruled out the also-rans and moved on to the next stage.

‘Now, which ones do you really, really like?’ I asked.

At this point my customer’s husband piped up for the first time. He’d just seen his second favourite eliminated in the first cut and wasn’t ready to live with a carpet he couldn’t stand. ‘I’m not keen on that green one,’ he admitted.

‘What green one?’ she said. ‘That’s a bluey-grey.’

Laughing, we put it to one side. Colour isn’t the same to everyone – and carpet colours can look very different in different lights.

Methodically, we cut down the number of samples that sat beside the walls. We moved them round the room, looking at how they changed in the light. Slowly, some favourites began to emerge.

‘I like the colour of that one and the feel of that one!’

Now we were onto something. She’d picked a really nice shade of blue that would work well with the colour scheme but, more importantly, in the one she liked the ‘feel’ of, she’d selected a very good quality carpet that would easily withstand the heavy-traffic you’d expect in the main living area of the house. Again, that’s where the years of experience come in handy. I’m not just looking at colour, I’m looking at how the carpet’s constructed and working out if it’s going to be able to resist the daily battles with the kids and the family cat. This type, with its stain-resistant qualities and a hard-wearing medium pile was just right.

‘OK, let me look in the van, I think I’ve got exactly what you’re looking for!’ I said, nipping out to the van to grab the new book that had been delivered only that morning from one of my regular distributors.

Sure enough, there it was. Perfect. We all agreed. But what about the price? Fortunately, although it was nearer the top end of their expectations, it was still well within their range – particularly as I was able to accurately measure the room and optimise the amount of carpet required based on the manufacturer’s widths. Trust me, nothing annoys me more than to see piles of unused carpet going to waste because a room’s been sloppily measured.

After that, I quickly calculated a price, shook hands on a deal, took a small deposit and booked a date for the fitting.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Well, like anything complicated, you’re more likely to get things right first time if you get some expert advice. After all, if you get it wrong, it’s an expensive mistake.