Seasonal Carpet Swap

I want to freshen my living room for the summer by rolling up the Oriental carpet and putting down something lighter. I think sisal might be too casual for my furnishings. Any suggestions? The floors are hardwood. And can you give me some tips on storing the carpet in the attic? Charlotte R., Peekskill

“Changing the area rugs for the summer gives a whole new look,” says interior designer Linda Yepez, speaking from her company HQ in Millwood ( But she also believes that sisal isn’t just for casual spaces. “I’ve used sisal carpets in formal rooms, sometimes with a small rug on top to define an area,” she says. “Sisal,” she adds, has become a generic term for all kinds of natural fibers — seagrass, raffia, bamboo, coir, jute and hemp (which also goes by the name Mountain Grass). I took a quick jaunt through the Internet world of rugs made of grasses and found some quite lovely ones.

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But if you think a grassy rug isn’t for you, Yepez believes your best bet might be wool sisal. “It’s really nice, a little more formal than natural sisal, and you can get it cut to size and bound with a pretty trim, maybe leather or something woven,” she says. “It comes in a huge choice of patterning, and it makes a great background. And it can be cleaned,” she emphasizes. “You spill something on sisal and it’s ruined.”

She’s enthusiastic about Wilton carpet, too. “The pattern choices are endless. It’s a flat-loop woven carpet, also wool. It’s more formal than sisal, but still lighter than an Oriental. It can be casual or elegant.” This, too, you get cut to the size you want and bound on the edges.

“How about a Tibetan area rug, in striated colors?” Yepez suggests. “That would be more neutral in tone than an Oriental, and would look more contemporary.” Tibetan rugs come in standard sizes — 8 x 10, 10 x 14, and so on — and, says Yepez, “a vast array of patterning,” so you could find something summery looking.

I’m not an interior designer, and I don’t even play one on TV, but I think a painted canvas floor cloth can look terrific, so I asked about such a thing on your behalf. “Painted floor cloths are usually way casual. But I know a lady in Philadelphia who does woven canvas, and they’re beautiful as an area rug — very distinctive, sophisticated, and not at all cutesy,” Yepez replies enthusiastically. “I ordered one for a client, and it was so gorgeous, I wanted to keep it. But they’re expensive.” (Check out Joyce Barker-Schwartz’s work at

As for storing your Oriental carpet in the attic, the mere idea had Yepez gasping in dismay. “Oh no, no, no — that’s not a good idea,” she declares. “Unless the attic is air-conditioned, it can get to well over 100 degrees up there, and that would ruin a beautiful wool carpet. You should never put a carpet in an attic.” She suggests you find a climate-controlled storage space for your Oriental, and get it rolled up properly, too. “The Oriental carpet people fold them in thirds, and then roll them,” she says, suggesting you ask a good carpet dealer for recommendations on storage.

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