Carpeting adds texture and warmth to a home, but if it's a bad color, the perks seem insignificant. Regardless of the reason -- home is a rental, kids need braces -- when replacing your wall-to-wall carpet is out of the question, you’re going to have to deal with it. But working or "dealing" with it by rearranging the place, adding color and accessories, or calling in carpet-care pros can be nearly as rewarding as installing new floors.
Your carpet’s hue may not have always been so terrible. Ground-in dirt, spills and unidentified stains that seem to appear magically as the kids pass over it may be to blame. When this is the case, rejoice -- the fix is likely a simple one. Have the carpet steam cleaned by a professional or do the job yourself using a rented machine. Ask your service provider or retailer about eco-safe, child-safe, pet-friendly cleaning products and stain removers that are free of volatile organic compounds and other unnecessary, unhealthy additives. If a good cleaning doesn't help, consider dyeing the carpet a darker color -- you can't go lighter. Unfortunately, not all types of carpeting will accept the dye; acrylic and polyester won't, for example, but wool or nylon will.
Rearrange the Furniture
Stubborn stains, along with damaged areas of a carpet, make its unattractive color seem even worse. Deal with these culprits by hiding them. Before you begin pushing and pulling everything -- including your muscles -- make a map of the space to scale on graph paper. Sketch or indicate the stains, worn paths and damaged parts where they appear. Draw and cut out your major movable pieces -- sofa, loveseat, bookcase -- to scale from a separate piece of paper. Slide the cutouts over your map to discover the best arrangement that works for the space and hides mars.
Use an Area Rug
The design debate may be over concerning area rugs placed over carpeting. But when the carpet in question is downright ugly, who cares? Taboo or not, employ an attractive area rug as a disguise. Just make sure that it doesn't consume the room. A rug need only be large enough to reach the furniture around its perimeter. Ignore the 18 inches or so of hideous fibers peeking out around the edges -- they're likely less noticeable and wretched than you think.
Change the Wall Color
A strong wall color can make an icky carpet that’s barely a color -- pinky beige, for example -- seem more neutral than it is. Explore rich, saturated colors, and don’t cave in to builder’s beige or taupe; this is one time when opting for a "safe" neutral on the walls is truly a bad idea. A vibrant kelly green or deep slate blue, for instance, can make your bad or off-colored flooring a toned-down, distant memory.