After years of being ripped out and kicked to the curb, carpet is making a comeback.
And not just the neutral-toned carpets of recent years, but ones that are boldly colored or patterned.
The softer, cozier feel of wall-to-wall carpet is appealing to homeowners used to treading on tile and wood, said Emily Morrow, director of color, style and design for Shaw Floors, a company in Dalton, Ga., that specializes in carpet, laminate, tile and hardwood flooring.
"They've experienced those hard surfaces, and they want to surround themselves with the comfort" of carpet, she said.
While hardwood or tile can be great for entryways or other high-traffic areas, some rooms - bedrooms, play rooms, studies and family rooms - cry out for carpeting, said Eric Ross, an interior designer in Franklin, Tenn.
"Carpet is really trending up," he said. "You're going to see more and more of it."
Manufacturers have responded by creating carpets with rich colors, patterns and textures designed to be a focal point rather than just a neutral backdrop. The new choices are available in a variety of prices.
Clients are using carpet to make a statement, agreed Linda Merrill, an interior designer in Duxbury, Mass.
"If carpet is the right choice for a specific space, they feel freer to pick something a little more exciting," she said. "There are a lot of different colors and different options."
More vibrant carpets often create a more customized feel, Merrill said. With the slumping real estate market, homeowners are indulging their personal tastes and worrying less about how their choices will affect the resale value of their home, she said.
Some of the over-the-top ideas from television shows also have freed people to experiment more with decorating, she said. And the pervasiveness of patterns and bright colors in house wares and home furnishings in recent years has made people more open to color.
"We see so much pattern in so many things," she says. "We're just bombarded with it."
The bold choices signal a shift away from the neutral palette that dominated earlier in the decade, says Annie Elliott, an interior designer in Washington, D.C.
"In the past several years, we've been moving away from subtle muddy tones to brighter colors and bright patterns," Elliott said.
She has found that homeowners sometimes make bold flooring choices because they are less confident decorating their walls.
"People don't trust themselves" to buy art, she said. "People are realizing an easier way is using a patterned carpet to enliven a space without putting pressure on the walls."
Those who are hesitant to choose a patterned carpet often create an impact with a textured one, said Jennifer Bardsley, an interior designer in Hingham, Mass. Those carpets, created by using yarns of different lengths or densities, can spice up a space and add more interest to a room.
Carpets in general make rooms feel warmer, and reduce noise, the designer said.
"It makes it feel comfortable and cozy and inviting," Bardsley said.