What is the best carpet for living rooms? How to choose the right material

neutral living room carpet in room with open fire
(Image credit: Kingsmead)

The best carpet for living rooms needs to be soft underfoot, stylish to look at and durable — so which types of carpet should you be looking at to get all of the above?

Unlike when it comes to choosing carpets for high traffic areas, such as hallways or stairs, the living room is somewhere that you want to prioritise comfort, which means that choosing a floor covering that feels luxurious is key to both the way the room feels and looks. 

It isn't just the material you select for your living room carpet that you need to consider either — you will also need to bear in mind the rest of your interior scheme. Your flooring forms part of the backdrop of the space and so thinking through colours, patterns and textures and how these will work with the rest of your style choices is important. 

Here, we take a look at the key considerations to bear in mind when picking out the right flooring for your living room. 

How do you choose the best carpet for living rooms?

When choosing the right carpet for your space there are two main considerations: material and pile. 

Different materials work well in different types of space and the one you opt for will also have a part to play in how much you will need to budget for your new flooring. 

"If you’re keen to fit a carpet made from natural fibres, wool is probably a main contender," advises experienced homes and interiors journalist Rebecca Foster. "This resilient and highly durable material results in a high-quality carpet that will last for years. It’s also sustainable, not to mention the fact that it’s super-soft underfoot and is a good insulating material."

Wool blends and manmade carpets can also work well in living rooms, but it isn't just the material you opt for when choosing carpet that affects how it feels and performs — the pile will also play a part. 

"A saxony carpet offers an opulent deep pile with long tufts, making for a beautifully soft feeling underfoot," says Rebecca. "Velvet varieties are also a good choice, thanks to the smooth feel of the cut pile finish." 

And, finally, when choosing a living room carpet, you will need to consider the way it will affect the overall appearance of the space.

“Flooring can dramatically change the tone of a living room, so it’s important to choose the colour that best fits the space and consider the environment you are wanting to achieve," says Sarah Jenkinson, product manager at Kingsmead.

"Natural coloured carpets remain the most sought after. With their versatile qualities and varying shades they can work within a number of different schemes whilst still creating an inviting and welcoming feel" continues Sarah. "They can also provide the perfect foundation for homeowners to experiment with colour and pattern, particularly with soft furnishings and wall coverings.  

cream carpet in living room

Made from 100% wool, the Malabar Two Fold range from Cormar Carpets makes a great choice for living rooms. Approx. £23/m2. (Image credit: Cormar Carpets)

Is wool carpet good for living rooms?

Wool is a great choice for all kinds of areas of the home, including when it comes to choosing the best carpet for stairs.

“A wool carpet is a wonderful choice for a living room because wool has a textured design adding depth and subtle visual interest to the floor, always a great look for any stylish living room," says Alexandra Hindle from Cormar Carpets. "With sustainability at the forefront in 2023, using products that are less harmful to the environment is always a great idea. 

"Carpets crafted from natural, renewable materials such as wool are a perfect choice. Wool is a fabulous fibre, natural, renewable, high quality and can luxurious under foot. A great insulator and naturally flame retardant, wool carpets are the perfect choice for any lounge.”

"Wool floorcoverings are ideal for living rooms as they are hardwearing and soft underfoot," agrees Jon Flannigan, product manager at Kersaint Cobb. "As a natural fibre wool is also breathable, it will be warm in the winter but remain cool in the summer." 

"A wool herringbone is a timeless choice for sitting rooms," advises Lorna Haigh, creative director at Alternative Flooring. "Wool Skein gives a contemporary look and is called a flatweave as it does not have a huge amount of bouncy pile when you compare it to other styles of carpet.  If you are considering a plainer wool carpet, where possible only use these flat woven carpets in spaces where they can be installed in a single width of 4 or 5m widths." 

wool carpet in living room

Kingsmead's Fine Velvet Purbeck Carpet has a smooth and soft texture and is made from 100% polypropylene. It costs from £33/m2.  (Image credit: Kingsmead)

Are manmade carpets soft underfoot?

Manmade carpets, such as those made from polypropylene or nylon, offer a very hardwearing alternative to 100% wool. While they are often specified for areas of high traffic, if you are prepared to pay a little more you can find synthetic carpets that are manufactured specifically to feel soft underfoot — perfect for rooms meant for comfort. 

“Some manmade fibres, like nylon 6.6, offer the same benefits as wool carpets but with better cleaning and maintenance properties,” says Gregory Powley-Lynch, operations director at Elements London

A popular alternative to wholly synthetic carpets are wool blend carpets. These are also known as '80/20 wool' due to the fact that they are usually 80% wool and 20% something else, such as polypropylene.

wool blend carpet in living room

The Pembroke range from Cormar Carpets is made from a 80% wool, 10% polypropylene, 10% tuftbond blend. It costs  between £30-£35/m2.  (Image credit: Cormar Carpet Co.)

Do natural carpets make good living room flooring?

There are many different types of natural flooring and some are better suited to living rooms than others, with jute being one of the most popular options. 

"Seagrass can be used in the lounge, bedroom and dining room," says Lorna Haigh. Chunky Jute is softer underfoot for sitting rooms and bedroom and is a great base for layering rugs on top." 

"Sisal, seagrass and mountain grass all have smooth fibres and offer a crisp, neat effect," says Jon Flannigan. "Jute is the softest of the natural floor coverings, giving a comfortable feel underfoot. However it is less hardwearing and more absorbent." 

"Woosie from Alternative Flooring is a wool sisal mixing the best qualities of two natural fibres that are firm favourites in interiors," says Lorna Haigh. "The woollen yarn gives the soft feel while the hardwearing sisal adds rustic texture and lustrous shades."

sisal flooring in living room with green sofa

Sisal flooring from Kersaint Cobb, shown here in Flint, is priced at approx. £26.99/m2. (Image credit: Kersaint Cobb)

What is the best colour carpet for living rooms?

Obviously the shade you choose for your carpet will very much depend on your living room design and the interior look you are after, but do bear in mind that, unlike the colour you paint your walls, it will be more costly and disruptive to replace your carpet than to repaint should you change your mind. 

"The colour palette that is chosen dictates the overall atmosphere of a living room so homeowners should always consider what they want to achieve," says Sarah Jenkinson. "Warmer tones such as beige, mushroom, creams and off-white create a cosier, cocooning snug-style living room, while cooler hues such as blues and greys evoke a calmer and refreshed feel. It is also always important to choose colours that we will fall in love with, and understand what shades work together to create a desired look.”  

Pattern and texture and the role they can play in the feel of a space needs to be considered too. 

"Striped carpets are being used more and more all over the house in living rooms, dining rooms and playrooms," says Jon Flannigan. "This could be because people are making the flooring the main focal point of a room and keeping walls and accessories plain or neutral.

“Herringbone continues to be one of the most sought-after trends throughout the home," continues Jon. "We will continue to see the versatile pattern in high traffic areas such as the hallway and living room as well as calmer spaces like the bedroom. As the pattern resembles movement, herringbone can really open up a space and is brilliant for smaller areas to give the illusion of bigger space.  

"Compatible with both classic and contemporary styles, herringbone in neutral tones is a great way to incorporate the old with the new. Giving the room a refresh with its crisp and classic effect, the area is instantly enthused with elegance." 

neutral living room carpet

Carpetright's Merlin Twist Carpet, shown in Pearl River Heather, costs £27.99/m2. (Image credit: Carpetright)

What is the cheapest carpet for living rooms?

Carpet costs are likely to be one of your main considerations when it comes to making a choice so it helps to know what you are likely to have to budget for your flooring. 

Nylon tends to be one of the cheapest types of carpet. That said, while it has good durability it can lack the softness underfoot that is desirable in a space meant for kicking back and relaxing in. 

"Most budget options will see you paying around £10-£25/m2,” advises Gregory Powley-Lynch. 

The pile of the carpet will also have an effect on cost. Cut and loop carpets are usually one of the cheaper options, with synthetic prices starting at around £6/m2, rising to approx £37/m2 for natural versions.

Loop pile and berber are other good budget choices, starting at around £6/m2 for some synthetic materials.

Next up are twist and saxony carpets coming in at around from £15/m2 up to £80/m2+.

Those on a tight budget will probably want to avoid velvet carpets which start at around £30/m2, rising to well over £150/m2. That said, they make fantastic living room carpets due to their silky soft texture. 

polypropylene carpet in living room

100% Polypropylene, such as this, from Carpetright's Saxony range, offer durability and stain resistance and come with a low price tag. This style costs £14.99/m2.  (Image credit: Carpetright)

Can I lay carpet over underfloor heating?

It is quite possible to lay the majority of carpets over underfloor heating, although they are not always the best flooring for underfloor heating and you will need to double check with your supplier.

"While carpet is a suitable choice of floor covering for underfloor heating, there are certain types of carpet that should be avoided," advises Jo Snell, self build manager at Nu-Heat. "If a carpet is too thick, the floor will be too well insulated for you to feel the benefit of your UFH system in the room. Certain carpet backings can also affect the ability for heat to travel through the carpet into your room.

"Carpets with hessian backing rather than rubber, are recommended for use with UFH systems," continues Jo. "Although they tend to be more expensive, the hessian allows heat to travel through the carpet whereas rubber acts as an insulator."

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.