Thrifty, yet upscale.


When I moved back to the home that I grew up in, the entire house was carpeted. We seem to vacillate from varying forms of differing views of hip flooring from decade to decade. Sometimes for form and function and others because shag carpeting is just too sexy to resist.

Old school black and white tiles in the kitchen may have been what was culturally acceptable and cost effective for Grandma , but we all know that Lisa Douglas would have preferred white wall to wall frieze to compliment her pink appliances, up-do,,negligee and fuzzy mules to lovingly cook "hots cakes" for Oliver.

It's not just that hardwoods, laminates, tile and solid surfaces are cleaner options but are also of the moment compliments to our need for stainless and current options.

These are the perfect combination of form and function.

We removed decades of memory intensified wall to wall carpeting, the original wood floors were repaired and refinished for yet another incarnation of life, love, laughter, and yes function.

We now gravitate to the look and maintenance of solid floors,but they are not always perfect in their aesthetics. They can be scratched, stained, unforgiving and altogether cold to the touch. This is why we add area rugs and runners for protection, comfort and visual interest..

After the floors were finished and the kitchen had been put back together, I started to think about rugs.

For this we are speaking about the "heart of the home". Mom always put a throw rug in front of the sink and stove to protect the surface underneath from drops, spills and general wear and tear. They were changed seasonally along with fresh updated dishtowels, curtains and pictures to keep things fresh. So with the new open concept, I wanted something simple, clean-lined and durable to do the job, yet not be too distracting from the more formal living spaces of the home that were technically still visually part of this space.

In design I lean more toward industrial and commercial grade basics. Simple lines, basic shapes and commercial grade durability. That also applies to color.. The more neutral the better as accent pieces and artwork can transform a space. Keep it simple.

I like the idea of throw rugs and chef mats, but hate the profile of them. They are often too high, roll up and can be tripped over. This made me take a longer look at carpet tiles. They are of commercial grade which makes them durable, easy to clean and interchangeable. They are easily found in many sizes and the 24 x 24 would work perfectly for me as two foot is a perfect size for the coverage that I needed without completely covering up the beautiful hardwoods that I so want to leave exposed.,

The greatest thing about tiles is that one, two or more can be easily replaced in high traffic areas and keeps the rest in use for season after season and year after year..

Of course you can find them at a carpet store or ordered from coast to coast hardware do -it-yourself chain locations, but I often find them at design and overstock spots. The one's that I used were purchased at Olde Time Pottery for only 88 cents apiece.

I wanted my "rug" to look more like a custom runner that ran the entire length of the cabinetry, sink, stove and fridge to catch any unwanted spills or drips protecting the finish and integrity of the wood floors.

The tiles needed to cover 12 ft east to west, and 10 ft north to south. That's 6 tiles one direction and then four added the other. I used two more in the 90 degree angle where they met for a larger custom area rug look, accented by one tile cut in half and placed in the corners of the square to pull it together. I used two different patterns in the same colors as it was what I had on hand, but still looked purposeful Keep in mind that all 13 of the tiles cost me less than $13.

I placed the tiles where I wanted them, and cut the corners on a piece of plywood with a carpet knife making sure not to damage any surfaces underneath. (Always think ahead to any damage that you may subsequently create while being caught up in the moment).

I flipped the tiles upside down and began to tape then together with a high quality duct tape, doing so both horizontally and vertically. Remember that you are working upside down and backwards! When you are sure that the tape is where you want it, you can place a dishtowel over it and set it with a hot iron.

For less than $20 you can create a custom, functional floor covering with an upscale commercial look in an hour for just a few bucks.

This is not only thrifty, it's a great alternative for custom needs under dining tables, entry doors and kids rooms. Not to mention for $1.76 , two tiles make a wonderfully slip resistant bath mat. If you can mimic a style and color scheme in multiple rooms of a smaller home, it can visually expand the space and be very sophisticated.

Just remember, money doesn't give you taste, but great ideas and a willingness to think outside the box leaves quite a bit of change in your pocket and no one else will have anything quite like it.