In my last home, how many sleepless nights did I spend worrying about the big question: hardwood flooring versus wall-to-wall carpeting?
There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer, nor does there seem to be a reliable guide for reassuring a homeowner of the correct answer before one sinks several thousand dollars into an option that one needs to live with for years to come.
And of course the question of resale invariably comes up. Will the option I choose be the one that will encourage buyers or have them running away screaming, leaving me with a house that won’t sell in a slow market? … No pressure!
When I moved into my last place, which was before meeting my life partner and in the year I refer to as 2001 BC (“before cat”), the decision was entirely mine to make.
My usual approach to striking a happy medium when faced with an analysis paralysis of options might be to do a little of both. Mind you, the monotony of carpeting throughout was already broken up by outdated gold vinyl flooring in the kitchens, bathrooms and entry hall. Would adding a third flooring material be a bad thing?
If I recall correctly, I believe I was traumatized by a home renovation show on TV around that time, when a designer referred to a home that used multiple flooring options as a Frankenstein style of decorating. I think that was enough to scare me off that idea, no matter how tastefully I tried to plan it out.
In the first five years I lived there, I don’t think any visitor was spared from being polled for their thoughts on carpeting versus hardwood.
Of the opinions provided, carpeting was referred to as the cozy option, while hardwood was referred to as the sleeker, cleaner option. But in the end, everyone kept saying, “it’s up to you, it’s your house”, which only added to my indecision since I can’t say I gave flooring much thought up until that point.
As I reflect on the different dwellings where I lived over the years, each had their own unique composition of flooring combinations throughout that seemed appropriate for each home. But I can’t say that at any time in my life did I ever find myself as passionate about flooring as game show models of the 1970s and 1980s, gently stroking the carpeting under a new bedroom or living room set.
To me, I just accepted flooring as part of the package deal of a home and lived with it. I never questioned it, or considered changing it. I just dutifully maintained it.
A visit to a home show would only spur my indecision, as I collected enough samples that I could have created a mosaic large enough to cover every horizontal surface in my home (including tables and counters) in just flooring samples.
But truly, how are you supposed to know how a whole area will look based on an itty-bitty swatch? I made that mistake once in painting my bedroom a cheerful yet soothing shade of green, based on a paint chip, only to change it 18 months later. Flooring is a much bigger investment and you really don’t want to mess it up.
In the end, I chickened out on any drastic changes, and over the years, I replaced gold vinyl with more modern, muted tones of vinyl, and the beige carpeting with new beige carpeting. I knew for sure that it flowed well, it didn’t clash with anything and it worked for many years. It was the sure thing.
I never regretted it.
In our new place, we have hardwood flooring throughout. I accepted it as part of the package deal and something I could definitely work with.
However, now, I question the anecdotal claims of hardwood being cleaner. With carpeting, I could vacuum once or twice per week with my super-duper upright vacuum and it seemed to stay “apparently” clean. With hardwood, I quickly found out that a widely popular dry mop does indeed do a great job in cleaning up, but for it to stay that way is another story.
Hardwood floors, to me, are merciless. With two adults, a cat that is seemingly in shedding season for thirteen months of the year, and dusty rural roads and fields surrounding us, it only takes a ray of sunshine through the window to out me as a horrible housekeeper for not running around with a dry mop every two hours. If the cat didn’t hiss so emphatically at any type of vacuum cleaning device, we might be tempted to look into a Roomba.
When I lived with beige carpeting, I accept that the same dust, dirt and hair was likely there, but at least it was sufficiently camouflaged that my compulsion to run the dry mop again to eradicate cat hair tumbleweeds wouldn’t kick in each time that I stepped out of the home office.
But I accept that with retirement just around the corner, I will soon have a little more free time to stay on top of the dust bunnies through more dry mop touch ups. I don’t plan on being a full time housekeeper in retirement, but a few more quick cleanings are not off the table to keep the floors looking sharp.
This is not to say that I would have turned down this house on the basis of hardwood floors, nor do I have an inclination to suggest covering up the hardwood with beige carpeting anytime soon. I do enjoy the sleek look of our hardwood floors and look forward to caring for them for years to come.
But I am reassured that I now have the answer I would have needed in my last home. I actually prefer carpeting after all, even if just for the illusion, or perhaps more accurately, delusion of the carpeting staying cleaner, longer.
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