Carpeted Bathrooms Are Trending, but Are They Actually a Good Idea?

Lily Allen and David Harbour’s carpeted bathroom has sparked a fierce debate over whether wall-to-wall carpeting belongs in a bathroom—here’s what to know.

Carpeted bathrooms on green photo treatment

Left: shank_ali / Getty Images; Right: quackersnaps / Getty Images | Design: Better Homes & Gardens

The internet was, well, floored when Architectural Digest shared images of David Harbour and Lily Allen’s carpeted bathroom in their Brooklyn townhome. Criticism and outrage were everywhere, with reactions ranging from the oft-expressed opinion that the carpeting looks terrible to the very real concern that carpeting in a bathroom is a breeding ground for mold spores. But are carpeted bathrooms really so terrible?

Once considered a luxury item, wall-to-wall carpeting first became affordable for the average American in the 1950s. Designers and creative homeowners alike took this new flooring option beyond the living room and bedroom to add a deluxe touch to bathrooms. Unfortunately, while the idea may have felt upscale and stylish, the reality is that carpeting, when it gets wet, is very difficult to keep clean and dry without a lot of care and attention. Watch any contemporary design show when homeowners show remodelers and home stylists a bathroom with carpeting, and you’ll see disgust and amazement. How, people on these shows often ask, did anyone ever think this was a good idea?

As it turns out, not everyone is opposed to carpeting in bathrooms: A 2018 Apartment Therapy poll asked readers their opinions on bathroom carpet, and about 8% of respondents (26 people, to be exact, so take results from such a small poll with a grain of salt) were in favor. Other carpet trends point to a wider shift toward more interest in wall-to-wall carpeting, and advancements in materials have made carpets higher-quality and easier to keep clean than the carpets of the ’50s and ’60s. Plus, for those preparing to age in place, carpeted bathrooms are actually a better idea, for the additional slip prevention they provide.

If carpeting in bathrooms is indeed making a comeback, at least there are more sanitary and practical options than existed in the ’50s and ’60s, when textured or plush carpeting was often made from wool. In fact, choices specifically for bathroom carpeting, if warmth underfoot and safety are priorities, are available.

According to their interview with Architectural Digest, Lily Allen and David Harbour wanted carpeting in their bathroom because they use it as another living space (the toilet and shower are in a separate area). Based on the design of the rest of their home, opulence is a top priority for them—and what’s more sumptuous than warm, plush carpeting underfoot after a long, hot soak in a tub? For most of us, however, practicality is more important than grandeur, and tile with a bathmat (or two) is probably the best option.

If you love the idea of a carpeted bathroom, make your carpeted bathroom as hygienic and mold-resistant as possible by choosing carpets that are 100% polyester, and install a water-impermeable subfloor to keep mold from growing below the surface of the floors. You can also opt for carpet squares, which can easily be removed and replaced if accidents such as overflowing bathtubs or toilet malfunctions occur. (Replacing soaked carpet may be easier than trying to dry it quickly to prevent mold growth.)

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