Ashley Stark Kenner of Stark chatted about tips and trends in the carpet world. | Home Front

Mar 14, 2013

As creative director for Stark, Ashley Stark Kenner draws from fashion trends and translates them into luxurious carpets. She chatted with readers about tips and trends in the world of carpets.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

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Excited to have a carpet expert with us this morning from such a distinguished company. Ashley Stark Kenner of Stark, the  legendary carpet and fabric company founded in 1938 by her grandparents Arthur and Nadia Stark, is here on our chat today. So let's get those questions going.

Is it possible to see Stark rug samples somewhere in DC? I've seen Stark rugs online that I've wanted to buy, but am wary of buying on-line without seeing the colors in person. I need to buy a 12x18 rug, so taking a gamble on an online photo is risky because the rugs this size are pricey and any return would be a huge hassle. I know you have a showroom at the Design Center but I'm not working with a decorator so I don't think I can go there. Thanks for considering this question.

Hi, buying on line can be great resource and time saver and beneficials for those who dont have a design center near them!   In Washington and 20 other cities around the country you can go into our local showroom with a designer or and see samples in person.  At the DC design Center there are two designers on call at all time who will escort you around the building and even help with purchasing.

Please comment about the kind of rugs to put in powder rooms, baths and hallways. What is the trend? In a center hall colonial, where the hardwood shows scuffs, is a runner appropriate? Is it seasonal? Also, where to have area rugs cleaned?


In a powder room I would reccomend a sisal or natural fiber rug you can never go wrong with those.  I would stay away from putting a rug or carpet into a bathroom because of the moisture.  The rug will rot and mold.  I would stick with a simple bath mat if not and you are trying to hide an unattractive tile the only solution would be an indoor outdoor rug.  I see the trends for podwer rooms either being a sisal or a vintage Oriental rug. As for hall way runners they are always advised to help protect your floors and provide comfort and a sound barrier.  A runner is not seasonal and can look great year round!  You should be able to find a reputable rug cleaner in any city just look for online reviews before choosing. 

Ashley, what do you see the big color trends being in carpeting? I'm tired of neutrals. Thanks!


While neutrals are timeless, color has made a big comeback in the fashion and home industries.  At Stark this coming season we have some incredible stronger colored rugs and carpet.  You may have read that Pantone has named emerald green the color of the year.  To compliment that color we recommend more neutral tones to balance out the stregth and impact of the green.  Other colors such as navy and grey have been hugely popular.

I'm about to redecorate my living room and can't decide whether to use a carpet or area rug. I have wood floors that are ok, but I don't love them. Do you think I should cover the whole floor up or redo the floors and use an area rug?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question.  Its a personal choice.  I use both wall to wall and area rugs it depends on the project and budget.  You might consider a sisal wall to wall and then layer an area rug over it for a punch color or to add depth to the room.  If budget is a concern you could go with a very large area rug that would cover almost all of the wood floor.  I would recommend keeping a minimum of one foot of wood boarder all the way around.  

Do you have some specific suggestions for the the pads we should purchase for wall to wall carpet? I now live in a fairly rural area and find that sales people here are not well trained. There's a lot of information on the internet but there must be some basic criteria.( I used to rely on the fine people at ABC when I lived in NYC.) Would really appreciate some pointers.

We at Stark recommend a 40 ounce pad for wall to wall carpeting.

I'm interested in the Alexa Hampton Dante and Aspasia carpets. What is the best way for me to see samples in person and obtain price information? Do I need to work through a designer or can I purchase directly? I live in the DC area. Thanks very much.

We always recommend working with a designer because they can help you navigate the huge number of choices and advise on color and design combinations that are appropriate.  In the DC area the design building has two designers on call that can take you into the showroom and help you see the samples in person.

Stark has some incredible Sisal rugs. What's the best way to incorporate this style into a room?

Thank you! Sisal is great because it is so versitile.  You can incorporate it into most any room.  It can help balance very formal rooms by grounding them.  And in more casual settings it can give a very tailored clean look.  Some people like to add an area rug over the sisal giving a layered look which is very popular right now.

Looking for paint for two separate parts of house. First is the stairway/landing/hall for a walkup third floor. Area gets tons of afternoon sunlight and I was thinking of a wheat color. Second is a bathroom with a good deal of white tile but also some forest green tile on floor/vanity (and we are not retiling). I was thinking a very light gray or light yellow but am open to other suggestions. Thank you!

How about Benjamin Moore Golden Honey or Honed White by Sherwin-Williams or Martha Stewart's Gingerroot for the upstairs hall. For the bathroom with the forest green tile, I might suggest Benjamin Moore Glass Slipper or Benjamin Moore Horizon or Farrow & Ball Skimming Stone.


What type of carpeting/rug would you think is best for a nursery? We want something soft enough baby could be on the floor itself, I think. Which should be done first - flooring/carpeting, or painting the walls? Thanks!

Definetly paint the walls first so you dont ruin the carpet.  The best thing is to put wall to wall wool carpet in a nursery.  I recomend that to all of my friends and clients because there is no danger of a child tripping on the edge of a rug.  Also wool is the best option because it can be easily cleaned and is very soft.

Which rug styles or patterns do you recommend for  enhancing a small space?

A large scale pattern in a small room can make the room appear larger.  Also depending on your light situation color can help enhance the space.  People tend to think a dark color will make the room seem smaller but actually it can help give the space depth. 

Hi. I helped my husband design a beautiful powder room. The one flaw is that the toilet faces the door and sticks out like a sore thumb near or den. I'd like to replace it with something more modern like a hat box toilet but they are so expensive. I found something similar designed by Umbra. Are you familiar with it?

I just did a search for Umbra products and all I could find is there bathroom accessories, which are modern and well designed. I do not see a toilet itself. Does anyone out there have models to recommend besides Toto?

How often should you have your good carpets professionally cleaned?

I would recommend professionally cleaning good carpets and rugs once a year or when soiled.  Do not try to spot clean always call a professional.

Hi, sorry for a paint color question! My rowhouse is brick painted red (came that way, sadly) and so far the trim is white. The door is plain old white-primed steel, and I'd like to paint it something bright and fun, but am worried that anything other than navy or dark green will clash with the red. Do you think dark or bright? Any colors to recommend? Should I do the trim too? What brands of exterior paint do you like? Thanks!!

I have heard good things recently about Sherwin-Williams Duration exterior latex paints that are supposed to be terrific and long-wearing. As for your front door, you have so many choices and pretty much everything would be fine with red brick. I like yellow or French blue doors. I would leave the trim white. Ride around your neighborhood and scout out what houses like yours have done with their doors and trim. It will help seal your decision.

What is the best way to clean up stains on sisal? Whatever I do leaves a ring.

If you have invested in a good floor covering i would always recommend professionally cleaning it. Spot reduction can be very hard to do on your own.

One room is a tiled family room, the other is a wood floor master bedroom. I'm interested in bound carpets for both but am interested in learning the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing carpets as opposed to rug.

There is no right or wrong answer it can come down to look, price and the style you are going for.  Rugs are typically handmade and you can take them anywhere.  Carpet is machine made and can be very durable and some times even a less expensive option if you are having it bound as a rug.  Both are great options its just personal taste.

This is such perfect timing! My husband and I just purchased a new construction townhome, and will be making our flooring decision soon. The carpeted areas will be a rec room, three bedrooms, and the hallway connecting the bedrooms. I'd like to choose something that will hold up to two cats and (in a few years) a kid or two. However, I'd like for it to look nice as well. Is Berber an OK choice? What other options would you recommend?

I would not recommend anything with a loop pile if you have cats that like to pull.  What you want to look for is a cut pile carpet for durability.  For families with children wool is a great choice because its natural and can be easily cleaned. 

Hello Ashley, When I moved into my house the carpet was newly installed. It shedded a lot and everytime I vacuum it sheds even more. What type of carpet is it? I know that wool carpet can be expnsive so I'm thinking of replacing it with Berber carpet. Is that eco friendly and durable? Thanks.

Most new carpets shed at first.  I think it is important to only buy quality rug and carpets because it is such a great investment.  Quality rugs will last a life time, and while they may cost a little more upfront you will save money in the long run by not having to replace them.  Wool carpet is available at many different price points and its a natural fiber that generally is eco friendly and durable.

I work for a low-moisture carpet cleaner, and sisal rugs simply don't clean up well. What do you recommend for cleaning them, so I can tell our clients? As an aside, I would recommend anyone purchasing rugs/carpets to inquire about cleaning beforehand. A lot of our clients have natural fiber rugs and are disappointed we can't clean most of them.

Sorry Ashley didn't get to this but I wanted to post this for your very valuable advice.

Sorry we didn't get to more. I know carpet questions have been on the mind of our chatters for a long time. Glad Ashley could answer some of them. Thank you for being with us!

Thank you. This has been a lot of fun. I love hearing from all of you and helping with your questions. Spring is the best time of year to give your home a refresh. Be brave take risks there are no real rules you should make your home an extension of YOU!

In This Chat
Ashley Stark Kenner
Ashley Stark Kenner is creative director of Stark, the legendary carpet and fabric company founded by her grandparents, Arthur and Nadia Stark, in 1938.
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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