How to Choose the BEST Carpet:

While wood or laminate flooring is the #1 choice for living rooms and dining rooms, many of my clients are still choosing carpet for their bedrooms, stairs and family rooms.


  • It’s soft underfoot
  • It’s safer on stairs (or at least softer on the toosh when you do biff it)
  • It has more acoustic value – particularly on stairs and in bedrooms (wink However, the challenge comes when you have to choose a carpet based on those weeee little carpet samples that aren’t even big enough to be coasters for my wine bottle – first world problem, I know.

Now before we get down to the nitty-gritty of choosing a carpet, make sure you take home AT LEAST 4 sample boards from the store. Most flooring stores have very little natural lighting and A LOT of fluorescent lighting, which can bring out the ugly in the best of things.

At the Store

  • Pick your 2 favourite sample boards
  • Pick 2-3 more boards that maybe aren’t your fave, but are ‘contenders’
  • Sign the boards out, toss ’em in your trunk and head on home!

Because many of my clients are looking for a light to medium toned neutral carpet, I’m going to show you how to narrow the choices down to the PERFECT sample.

Decide which colours you DON’T want 

Carpet sample boards are usually arranged by colour, from darkest to lightest and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the other samples on the board. Eliminating those samples can help to narrow down the REAL contenders.So, take a piece of paper and cover up the samples that you DON’T like.  Since we are looking for a neutral carpet, I’ve covered up the obvious green/blue/plum tones.

Step 2   

Cover up the samples that are TOO light and TOO dark    

Keep in mind that carpet often looks about 1/2 a tone lighter than you think it will once it’s installed. This is just because of the way natural/artificial light catches the tops of the carpet fibres. Because we’re going for a light to medium toned neutral, it was easy to see that the top and bottom samples wouldn’t work. And while the bottom row that’s still there is likely too light as well, I’m keeping them up because they aren’t that far off my end goal (and I’ll be killing most of them off later anyway).

Step 3

Decide which undertones you don’t want   

Now that we’ve done the easy part (bad colours/too light/too dark) we come to the tricky part – finding the undertones.

The best way to figure out what the undertones are is via comparison.  When you look at a sample all on its lonesome, it’s easy to think it’s ‘beige or gray’ with no undertone. However, it’s via COMPARISON that you will see how the samples are different from each other.

The most common undertones that you’ll want to avoid in carpet are yellow, green and pink. In the photo above, when compared to the left and right samples, the 4 in the middle look yellowish and pinkish so I covered them up.You can see that we’re now left with a reasonable selection of neutrals and have eliminated the ones that NOBODY picks because they are tragic.

Now here’s the fun part…

Step 4 

You should have it down to 4-6 contenders and because I’m a lil’ bugger, this is what comes next…

Peel. Gently peel those 4-6 weee little carpet samples off of the board (the ones you think ‘might’ work)

Label. Label the back of each sample with a pen (a, b, c, etc…) and label each carpets original location with the same letter

Compare. Compare them to each other.  You have NO idea how much easier it is to see what the different undertones are once that silly old board is out of the way.  Without a frame surrounding then, you can butt the samples right up to each other.  You can also put the samples up to your baseboard and furnishings to see how they REALLY interact with each other

Eliminate. Eliminate the ones that aren’t working.  Maybe they clash with the couch fabric or don’t tie in well to the flooring in the next room.  One way or another try to get down to 2-3 faves.

Write down your faves. Match up the letter on the back of the carpet samples to those on the board and write down the names of your faves

Glue gun! Whip your hot glue gun out of its holster and glue the samples back in their proper place (crazy glue works as well)

See how easy that was?  And yes I am a sneaky lil’ ginger, but really, it’s their fault for making the samples so damn small.

Step 5   

Order large samples of your faves

You’re probably feeling brave now and want to jump ahead and order your carpet, but slow down there crazy-pants.  Ask your flooring supplier to order some larger samples (usually takes no more than 5 working days).  You’re spending 1000’s of dollars and another few days will be worth it.

I would ask the carpet supplier to order large pieces of those 2 carpets.  Even if you think you’ve found your fave, order your 2nd fave as well just in case.

Large samples are the best way to choose carpet because…

  • It will be easier to see the undertones
  • It’s easier to see how the overall texture of the carpet will act when you walk on it
  • The lighting in the flooring store will likely be different from the lighting in your home.  This can affect not only the colour of the carpet but also how the texture appears.
  • You can see clearly how the color reacts with your furnishings, paint color, etc…