We never planned on replacing carpet, but when we found our dream house with less-than-dreamy berber, we took the plunge. Turns out the hardest part was finding the right price.
Carpet wasn’t a major consideration during the home buying process; 99.99% of the houses we looked at came with some variation of the standard beige builder’s carpet. Neutral, inoffensive… no reason to change it.
When we found Our House, however, we knew before we even set foot inside that the upstairs carpets were unsalvageable. Notice I say ‘carpets,’ plural. That’s because every room was fitted with a different variety of berber carpet, all Frankensteined together haphazardly, leaving gaping seams and messy snags.
In one room, there was a lovely selection of wall-to-wall Justin Timberlake’s hair circa 1998. Another room was outfitted with a fun, festive Apple Cinnamon Quaker’s Rice Cakes print. The connecting hall was carpeted in shrunken Old Navy Christmas sweater. It was pretty bad.
Once we made peace with the fact that we’d have to find room in our budget for a complete carpet overhaul upstairs, we realized the project came with a pretty great silver lining: we’d get to choose a carpet we actually liked!
Buh-bye boring beige!
The Hard Part: Comparison Shopping
We started the process one afternoon when we aimlessly wandered through the carpet section at Home Depot.
It took me exactly .05 seconds to go from ‘girl who has never given carpet a second thought‘ to ‘girl with mildly unhealthy carpet obsession.’ Home Depot’s Lanning carpet in ‘Pinstripe’ was my gateway drug:
This carpet spoke to me. It said: “carpet doesn’t have to be beige and boring! it can be fun! textured, patterned, exciting!” This carpet spoke, and I listened.
I was ready to commit, but R wanted to shop around. It’s not just about finding the right carpet, he reasoned, we had to find the right deal too.
You know that carpet company that has all those late night commercials with the catchy little jingle and the outlandish promises (‘buy flooring for one room, get the rest of your house free!’)? Yeah, we gave them a call.
They took down our information and a few days later, we had our free in-home consultation with a very personable sales rep who regaled us with friendly chit-chat as he measured our upstairs. He even brought samples! Off to a good start. Then the bad news started.
First of all, their offerings don’t really deviate from the norm: you can get ‘Carpet’ in the colors ‘basic beige,’ ‘dark beige,’ or ‘I never want to buy another bottle of Resolve again beige.’ If you want a textured or patterned carpet, you can upgrade to the enticing ‘My Grandma’s Attic‘ collection.
Ok, so this was a step backwards. Beautiful carpet had been within my grasp, and now it was being ripped away as we were forced to go back to beige.
Still optimistic that we could get a good deal (a deal that would make it worth our while to sacrifice style for practicality), we had the rep quote us for ‘Visual Beauty,’ possibly the least-aptly named carpet in the history of the universe. We also asked him to quote us for ceramic tile instead of carpet in the upstairs walk-in closet (my dream closet).
The sales rep tapped some information into his iPad, then handed it over so I could see the price. Are y’all sitting down?
Yep. $16k to install the most unremarkable carpet in the world, and lay down some tile in our modestly sized walk-in closet.
While I was trying to think of the most diplomatic way to let this man know that my mama didn’t raise no fool, he continued his sales pitch:
“Don’t worry,” he said optimistically, his tone suggesting that of course he didn’t expect me to buy some uninspiring beige carpet that cost the same price as a gently-used, Bluetooth-equipped, mid-size SUV with back-up cam and a six-month Sirius radio subscription. Of course not!
Ok, I thought. Here comes the part where he tells me the actual price, I’ll say “that’s more like it!” and we’ll all laugh.
He said: “If you order today, you can get 50% off!”
I mentally calculated 50% of $16,342.15, and then I went right back to thinking of the most diplomatic way to let this man know that my mama didn’t raise no fool.
Visual Beauty was obviously off the table, but I was still morbidly curious about how this price was justified (we weren’t provided any square footage or pricing for materials / labor / tear-out, just a bottom line). Was it the tile? An expensive pad? Had we unknowingly selected a ‘top-of-the-line’ luxury carpet? Out of pure curiosity, I emailed the rep to see if he could run the numbers again with carpet instead of tile, or divulge the price per square foot. He never responded, so I guess we’ll never know.
Feeling slightly deflated, we started to do the research that we probably should have done before we started comparison shopping. Turns out, our experience wasn’t unique. If you’re considering one of these vendors, The Carpet Professor is a great resource. So is Googling any company name followed by “what the hell.”
After getting several quotes from big-box stores and local shops, we ended up going with a company recommended by our realtor. A
contractor absolute saint / flooring expert came by to take measurements for free, then invited us to his showroom to pick out our carpet.
I still had a swatch of Home Depot’s Lanning carpet (I had been carrying it around in my purse like it was a lock of hair from my firstborn), and the contractor pulled several similar styles at the showroom. They were all leaps and bounds ahead of our original choice in terms of style, look-and-feel, and (most importantly, I guess) quality.
We ended up choosing Dixie’s ‘Fantasia’ carpet in the color ‘Silverado.’
The Easy Part: Coming Home to the Carpet of Our (My) Wildest Dreams
We made our deposit, and a few days later we came home to see the most glorious sight on the curb:
The carpet crew was still at work upstairs, so we decided to make ourselves scarce…
…but not before we snuck a couple of pictures of the carpet.
I think this might have been one of the few times in my life that I’ve actually yelped with happiness.
We left to run some errands, and when we came back, we were blown away all over again.
The carpet is amazingly soft, and the 8lb rebond padding feels like walking on clouds. If there was ever a time to brush up on the ‘stop drop and roll‘ maneuver, this was it.
Real Talk: I’m madly in love with this carpet, but I’m not completely unaware that we made a bit of a gamble going with such a distinct pattern, and in a non-normal color. We certainly didn’t want to do a disservice to the more traditional design elements of our home, or limit the versatility of this space to such a specific design aesthetic / color palette.
But as anyone who has ever watched the movie Shrek knows, true love always prevails.
I think the most polarizing element of our carpet is what I actually love the most: the fact that it doesn’t look like normal, boring house carpet. It’s bold. It’s not the supporting act, it’s the main event.
Besides, like I always say: nothing is permanent, just expensive to replace!