This choice depends on the role you want your floor covering to play in your decorative scheme.
If you want to underplay the floor in order to emphasize your furnishings or accessories, by all means choose a plain carpet.
If you want to add excitement to the room on the floor, choose a pattern. Most patterned floor coverings command attention.
What activities will go on in this room? What will be the wear and tear? It's a good idea to have a patterned floor covering under the dining table. A multi-colored pattern can conceal spills. Even tweeds and heathery mixtures camouflage soil.
Patterns vary in emphasis, depending on the size of the design, its colors, and the amount of contrast in it.
For a socko emphasis, you can choose a large-scale pattern, that is warm, dark or bright in color and has bold contrasts. There shouldn't be more than one bold pattern like this in a room.
For medium impact, choose a medium-sized pattern in warm colors that are lightened or dulled, or cool colors that are darkish or brightish with medium contrasts.
Light-impact patterns function almost like subtle textures. They give some interest without attracting too much attention. They are small in scale, in cool, pale, or dulled colors with small contrasts. Light impact designs can also serve to underplay the floor. Tweedy or heathery tone-on-tone designs would fit in here.
Certain patterns are traditional with certain furnishings styles. If you want your floor covering to be true to the period of your furniture, I suggest visiting period rooms in museums or looking in historical books to educate your eye.
There are some more helpful hints for choosing a pattern for the floor. Are your furnishings mostly curved? Or mostly straight-lined? Do you want the floor covering to draw even more attention by being different than the rest? Or do you want it to harmonize by being the same? Each room should have a dominance either of curves or of straight lines, but there should be some of the other shape for contrast.
Article by Cathy Crane