Floor coverings first started being recorded in historic documents in the early 1700s and can be closely linked to the perception of luxury. Up until this time, people tended to live with exposed floors. Floor coverings brought warmth and comfort, but as they were often used in drawing rooms (where guests were received), they also provided a useful short-hand as to the social status of the homeowner. As with most things, floor coverings have evolved over time.
Ingrain carpets otherwise known as Kidderminster carpets were a popular choice from the 18th to the 20th century. They were a reversible cloth, more akin to a woven fabric with the warp and the weft creating the design. As this form of carpeting has no pile and both faces are useable, it allowed the owner to reverse the carpet if soiled or worn. Due to modern installation techniques this is however no longer possible. They were woven in narrow widths (ranging from 9” to 36” wide) which could then be tacked down side by side or sewn together to form larger pieces for rooms or area rugs.
Venetian carpeting was an upgraded but cheaper alternative to the Ingrain carpet. It tended to be reserved for use in practical areas such as stairways, halls and passages which led from the above mentioned “display” area to the “functional” areas such as the kitchen and servant quarters as well as private sitting rooms which were not seen by guests. Unfortunately this type of flooring lost favour when mechanization made pile carpets such as Axminster and Wilton a more affordable fashion must-have for the home.