Beaded is a "contradential" Blueridge Home carpet made with Honeywell's Anso Caress nylon.

As the fall season and the 2005 product introductions get closer, exciting trends in color and style are taking place in the residential floor covering industry -- especially in the carpet sector. Here's a look at some of the more noteworthy innovations in the product segment.

Color: excitement on the way

From a color standpoint, perhaps the most notable of all trends is the sharing of the color palette between fashion and home interiors. According to Annette Callari, Honeywell Nylon's color expert and interior designer, it used to be that fashion color trends would make their way into home interiors, but only through niche segments with niche products. Today, a greater number of home-interior products reflect the color palette set by the fashion industry.

This trend is helping to fuel new carpet styles that are more inspiring, sophisticated and bolder in pattern and design. The carpet industry is proactively responding to these trends, which means we could see some surprising color palettes over the next 18 to 24 months.

As expected, the predominant color base during 2004 has been an array of anchoring, gray-based colors with muted, soft greens and subtle, gray-based blues playing a strong role. This gray-based scheme reflects stability, safety and strength in power, which over the past two years have been areas of heightened importance to Americans.

However, 2004 also saw the introduction of metallic influences to the home interiors marketplace. Borne from the commercial sector, metallic inflections began to appear in such residential areas as light fixtures and bath accessories, and even carpet. These metallic influences are just starting to take hold, yet they will be transformed as a new and invigorating wave of coloration and style is ushered in during 2005.

In 2005, home interior color trends will consist of new hues infused with light. This is a significant departure from this year's gray-based color palette, as 2005 colors will be light-based and more luminescent in nature. Americans are feeling more secure and optimistic about the future, the economy and their homes (especially as homeownership continues its record-breaking climb).

Checkers is a Blueridge Home contadential product that combines the durable tightly bound construction and shorter height of commercial carpets with the soft, luxurious feel of traditional residential carpets.
Callari says another exciting trend shaping up for 2005 will be the inclusion of "spicy" accent colors, such as vibrant greens, warm clay undertones and rose-color infusions. This new development, which will create an added level of enthusiasm in home interior products, is the direct result of Latin American and Hispanic influences that are so prevalent today in our country and society.

Other coloration design trends of note will be the transformation of today's bright metallics to metallics with a more muted appearance. Zinc and pewter -- metallics that appear burnished and oxidized or have an "antique-looking" finish -- will replace the current luminescent metallic color palette. However, this muted metallic coloration trend will balance nicely with the rising white, light-infused coloration palette coming in 2005.

Finally, it's important to note, especially with all these new exciting color trends taking place, that neutrals will always be a predominant player in home interiors, and particularly with carpet. Yet, even neutrals will not be immune to the invigorating and uplifting light infusion that will be taking place in 2005, as they will have fresh, white undertones to them.

The new "resimercial" carpet made with Anso nylon is gaining popularity for home offices, media rooms and basements.

Style: residential soft meets commercial performance

For the past 20 years or more, residential carpets and commercial carpets have been viewed as two completely separate products. From their different construction, textures and patterns, there was virtually no overlap. But all that's changing.

Within the past five years, fiber producers and carpet mills have closed the gap between commercial and residential carpets. Fiber advancements -- coupled with advanced manufacturing technologies, particularly with tufting machines -- now allow for the creation of carpets with bolder patterns, softer geometric shapes and more lively color palettes.

The tightly bound construction and shorter height of commercial carpets provide a durable, high-performance carpet, while the soft-hand technology of the fiber creates the soft, luxurious feel of traditional residential carpets. This perfect match -- which many in the industry identify as a new residential segment dubbed "contradential" or "resimercial" -- appeals to consumers' ever-growing desire for a longer-lasting carpet with a soft-hand touch.

Among some of the more inspiring products appearing in this category are those from carpet mills such as Blueridge and CWI. Blueridge, long-known as one of the finest, commercial only carpet-producing mills, recently launched a new residential line called Blueridge Home. Blueridge Home seeks to capitalize on the niche contradential market, as well as the ever-growing desire of homeowners for more sophisticated carpet styling options more typically found in commercial carpets.

Fuelling the contradential trend has been the explosive growth of homeownership in the United States and the ways in which Americans are redefining and using their homes. New homes are being built and previously owned homes are being remodeled to accommodate larger family rooms, home offices, media/entertainment rooms and, in some cases, exercise rooms. As Americans continue to invest in their homes as places of comfort and sanctuary, these "new" rooms are perfect environments for contradential carpet.

The demand for contradential carpets could spike nicely over the next year as the brighter, more energetic color trends for 2005 play well with the bolder, more sophisticated patterns and stylings associated with commercial carpets. What's more, contradential carpets, with their inherent soft-surface comfort and exciting styling and design possibilities, provide homeowners with a compelling alternative to hard-surface flooring options.

As more and more retailers throughout the country add contradential carpets to their inventory as a way to give their customers more soft-surface flooring choices, it's important to note that homeowners are still demanding "traditional" residential carpet. Beige and solid carpets with higher pile heights, softer textures and more traditional patterns will continue to be the mainstay among American homeowners. In addition, consumers seeking a carpet solution for their home continue to appreciate the wide range of softness available through technologically superior fiber -- from the ultimate in luxurious softness to middle-range, traditional-touch softness.

With all these coloration, styling, performance, and design trends converging at the same time, the future is looking up for what's being put down in soft surface flooring.