Less color, more texture in hospitality flooring

Hotel carpet design is seeing a gradual shift. After the industry was shaken up by the economic crisis in 2008, leaving some hospitality design firms unable to pay its senior-level designers what they were used to, it opened the door for an influx of new, fledgling young designers with fresh ideas, particularly on flooring and carpeting.

According to Mark Page, senior director of color and design at hospitality carpet designer Durkan, this has led to more experimentation with product types.

Page said designers have been using fewer bright colors and structural patterns in hotel carpet designs, and there is more use of 12-to-15-foot-wide broadloom carpets. “These designs lead to more textural effects, and from that there are many more subtle options for designers,” Page said.

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Paul Andino, senior designer for British carpet manufacturer Brintons, agreed that more monochromatic color palettes have surfaced than in the past, and the industry has also seen a rise in asymmetrical and geometrical design concepts. “A hotel’s approach to carpet design is very dependent on their region,” Andino said. “In New York, hotels want a sleek, clean look, while in Arizona or Texas they still want to remain chic, but are interested in distressed, rustic influences.”

Hotels should understand how their carpet is made and what materials are used in its construction to have a better idea where these products should be placed and how they should be colored. 

Page said carpet designs are still driven mainly by architecture, which influences the colors and shapes used on flooring. “Some properties are timeless; it’s all they’ve ever been and it’s all a guest would expect and that is driven by architecture,” he said. “By the same token, some modern properties will not look fashionable forever, and that’s also architectural.”

Browns and grays are best for hiding dirt and wear over time, but Kathleen Stewart, lead designer for hospitality at rug manufacturer Surya, said over-dyed rugs look better the more they are walked on, and have been installed in hotels aiming for a floor that has that lived-in look.

“These hotels are looking forward to when the rugs have had some wear-and-tear in five to six years, as these rugs are designed to look better as they grow old,” Stewart said. “This works well with the current trends of masculine colors, blacks and grays as a main motif with pops of reds, gold and metallic colors. And as the rugs break down, that pop is expected to stay.”

Hotels have also recently been attracted to the use of carpet tiles for similar reasons. These tiles lock together to look like a traditional broadloom carpet, or can intentionally have bezels added to accentuate their grid-like qualities. Carpet tiles are also chosen for maintenance reasons, and are often easy to remove in sections if damaged. This allows them to be cleaned more thoroughly than if they were to remain on the floor.

“If there is a spill or catastrophe on a broadloom carpet, the whole room has to be replaced,” said Mandi Jenks, store manager of the FLOR carpet tile designer in Portland, Ore. “One or two squares can be removed at a time to be cleaned as they don’t glue to the floor, and if they are too damaged they can be replaced individually without removing the entire fixture.”

This is great news for carpets that suffer from damage early on in their life cycles, but there are drawbacks. Mark Page, senior director of color and design at Durkan, said hotels may not be able to remove single squares in all situations without negatively affecting the carpet’s overall look. “You will want to get rid of a tile if it gets damaged, but if you take up a worn square and put down a new one, it can look unsightly as a whole.”