Interior Flooring

7 Ways to Live with Carpet When You Can’t Rip It Out

If you don't have the budget to rip out and replace your old carpet, or if you're limited by your rental agreement, consider one of these creative ways to breathe new life into your floors.
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Cringeworthy Carpet?

Ugly carpeting can really bring down the look of a room, and it’s a particularly common issue for renters, who are typically prohibited from ripping out or replacing a carpet. And though homeowners do have the right to tear out their crusty old carpet, they may not have the budget for the project. If your carpeting is stained, flat, boring, dull, or merely hideous, what can you do to prevent yourself from cringing every time you see it? Take a look below for seven creative solutions that won’t break the bank.

Altered Color Scheme

In a dull room, a drab carpet can pull your eyes downward, where they fixate on the aging fibers and flattened surface. Fortunately, when removing or replacing a carpet isn’t an option, you can improve the situation with a smart decorating trick: Focus on the walls. Walls supply the dominant color in a room, so by painting them a vibrant hue—for instance, a brilliant blue—you can draw attention away from a fading carpet, and you may even end up seeing the room in an entirely new light. With a bolder wall color, you may find that you no longer have an issue with the carpet. This solution works especially well in neutral-toned rooms, which are easily brightened.

Related: The 8 Painting Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

Carpet Rake Rejuvenation

Even the sleekest new paint job may not be enough to overcome the challenge of an old carpet. Over time, carpets lose volume and luster, becoming flat, dull, and dirty. Scruffy carpeting can make an entire home seem neglected, but if you’re not ready or able to replace your floor covering, consider purchasing a carpet rake (like this one from Amazon). When used in combination with a carpet cleaner, this.simple household tool can help revitalize your carpet. The rake frees up and lifts sunk-in dirt, pet hair, and dead skin that you can then pick up with a vacuum or carpet cleaner. It also fluffs the fibers, leaving the carpet looking almost brand-new.

Area Rug Camouflage

Sometimes the age or condition of a carpet is less of a problem than its hideous pattern or color. If cleaning and rejuvenating a carpet will only return it to its former state of ugly glory, then your best option may be to cover it up with a rug. An area rug is a relatively inexpensive purchase, and it’s great for hiding an unattractive carpet that you can’t remove. A rug of the right size will cover most, if not all, of the carpet beneath, completely transforming a room. If you’re left with a perimeter of old carpeting showing around the rug, buy carpet remnants, cut them to size, and attach them with carpet binding and seam tape, in effect creating a custom-fit area rug.

Related: 10 Doable Designs for a DIY Rug

Creative Furniture Placement

Selecting, buying, and possibly cutting down an area rug may be more than you’re willing to tackle, or may cost more than you’re willing to spend. If so, go for a smaller (and cheaper) area rug that will cover most of the carpet beneath, then get creative with your furniture to cover up the border. Bookshelves, couches, and standing lamps fit comfortably along the wall and open up floor space, giving your home an airier appearance while covering up the offending carpet below. You can also strategically position plants around the room, with waterproof carpet runners below them to cover up and protect the carpet underneath.

Floor Cloth Fix

What if you’d like to cover up your carpet but can’t afford a large enough area rug or don’t have enough wall space to conceal the awkward border along the perimeter with furniture? Well, area rugs aren’t the only option: You can instead purchase a roll of floor cloth, which is more economical than carpeting, and cut it to size. To take the guesswork out of shrinking the material, purchase preshrunk fabric. While floor cloth isn’t as heavy as an area rug, it can be painted with stencil patterns or your own design for a unique look.

Improvement to Dye For

Covering, hiding, and camouflaging are great ways to salvage a distasteful carpet that you can’t replace, but there are other approaches you can take. For example, you can dye your carpet to restore faded color, fix spot and stains, or even change the color to a different shade or hue. Before considering this solution, make sure your carpet is made of the right fabric. Nylon and wool carpets can be dyed, but polyester, acrylic, and polypropylene cannot. While dyeing a carpet yourself will be lighter on the wallet, the project could have mixed results. For a quality finish, think about hiring a professional, which should set you back about a third of the cost of having the carpet replaced.

Paint Stencil Solutions

If all else fails and you’re stuck with a hideous carpet that looks terrible with any wall color, cannot be adequately covered up, and doesn’t even look good with a dye job, maybe you should move on to a more drastic step: Paint it! Spray-on upholstery paint penetrates deep into carpet fibers without leaving a crunchy residue, allowing you to paint your carpet any color you want. You can choose to paint the entire floor one color or paint a stencil pattern over the old color, or you can even paint the entire floor a new color and then add stencils over this refreshed background. P
ainting a carpet is about as extreme a measure as you can take without removing it entirely. If painting still doesn’t solve the problem, or if you’re bound by a rental agreement that won’t permit you to do something so drastic, it may be time to start saving for that new carpet (or a hardwood floor!), or to start lobbying the landlord for an upgrade. 

Related: The 13 Best Carpet Colors for the Home