There’s a certain ‘je ne ce quois’ about a carpeted floor. Is it the warmth that carpet provides? How about the comforting feel of walking on carpet? Any other floor covering, no matter how beautiful, is still just a cold, hard floor. On my new Brazilian Cherry hardwood floor, I would still lay a look for that perfect accent carpet rug. On my Carrera marble floor, I would still want the warmth and softness of a carpet.
The original hardwood floor with a carpet rug is a green choice as well. Natural woven carpets are backed with sisal, hemp or jute. Grass mats are a green solution. They are made from recycled, quick growing reeds. Grass and natural fiber woven carpets can provide income as a cottage industry for poor laborers. Grass carpets smell fresh and clean. Natural carpets cause fewer allergy problems. Mold does not grow as it does with synthetic carpets. Be sure to purchase natural rugs from fair trades sources. Avoid companies which make their rugs using slave labor.
In times past, carpets were actually large area rugs that reached almost to the wall, but were not fastened down. These carpets were quite thin, more like large pieces of embroidery. The carpets had to be taken up periodically for cleaning. Carpet cleaning was an arduous task that involved rolling up huge carpets 16′- 22′ feet wide. They were taken outside. Then the carpets had to be beaten with ‘rug beaters’. Rug beaters were made of wire bent into intricate patterns. The housewife would beat the rug to remove dust. Imagine the allergens and dust that got into every pore of the body!
Since about 1869, different carpet cleaning machines have been designed. Early carpet cleaners were gas powered, horse drawn machines. Giant hoses were fed from the street into the house through the window. This apparatus was about the same size as the fire engines of the day. Another system for cleaning carpet consisted of a huge ‘house vacuum’. This monstrosity was placed in the cellar. Pipes connected to each room. The Frank Lloyd Wright May house in Grand Rapids has been painstakingly restored to its 1920’s grandeur. This house has a ‘house vacuum’ system. Obviously only the very wealthy could afford such luxury. Most just kept beating and sneezing.
In 1902, Melville Bissel developed his famed carpet sweeper in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Visitors can tour historic ‘Gaslight Village’ at the VanAndel Museum. The original Bissel Carpet Sweeper is on display. You can still buy a Bissel Carpet Sweeper, which is almost identical to the century old model. The Bissel Carpet Sweepers are an ideal ‘green’ alternative to clean carpet. You simply push the sweeper over the carpet and a series of brushes sweep the debris into a receptacle. Empty the receptacle into the trash. No more beating the carpet. No more gas guzzling machines. Now more waste of electricity with a big vacuum. The Bissel Carpet Sweeper. It’s truly the best of both worlds.