Guide to Residential Carpet Styles

French Bulldog puppy resting on the staircase landing, England
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Deciding on a style of carpet can be overwhelming at first, as you walk into a showroom and see hundreds of options. However, all residential carpets can be classified into one of only a few categories, which can really help to narrow your search.

Each of the following styles has a unique look, as well as distinct advantages and drawbacks. Some styles are better suited to certain types of décor than others, based on their appearance.

Here is more detailed information on carpets, including characteristics of each style, durability, and performance expectations.

  • 01 of 04


    Carpet swatches
    Cheryl Simmons

    Saxony is the iconic carpet style; it is the image that likely comes to the minds of most when they think of carpet. Saxony carpet is a cut pile that is medium height; it is neither very long nor very short. Saxonies can range from a plush, velvety appearance (known as a straight Saxony) to a textured appearance (referred to as trackless).​

    Because Saxony is available in different looks, it can work for almost any type of décor. Straight Saxonies work best for formal settings, because of their high-end velvet finish. However, this is the style that will show footprints across the surface of the carpet fibers, so it is a less popular choice for busy households.

    Textured Saxonies represent a large portion of the residential carpet market because they truly are versatile enough to use in almost any type of décor. Textured Saxonies are designed to minimize the appearance of footprints and vacuum marks on the carpet, so they work well in high-traffic areas. They have a less formal appearance than straight Saxonies, so they are suitable for more casual settings such as family rooms and dens.

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    Berber carpet

    Cheryl Simmons

    Originally, the term Berber referred to a flecked carpet: a white or off-white carpet with a fleck of dark brown or gray. Today, however, Berber more often refers to a looped style of carpet. Berbers can range from small, tight loops to large, chunky loops.

    As Berbers first started to become popular in residential carpet, they were chosen mainly for areas of the home not used for entertaining such as home offices and basement rec rooms. This may be because they resembled commercial carpet styles, and were almost always multi-colored.

    Today, Berbers have moved away from the commercial look and can work well throughout the home. The solid-color Berber styles in the new soft fiber carpets (such as the Mohawk SmartStrand collection) look a bit more sophisticated than the older multi-colored styles but still add a nice relaxed feel to the room.

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    Retro White Shag Carpet
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    Frieze is the evolution of the shag carpet. Frieze features long fibers—usually much longer than Saxonies—that have been tightly twisted. Generally, freizes are very durable, due to the high twist of the fibers. They are sometimes called California shags.

    Friezes have a laid-back feel to them (perhaps because the fibers literally lay back as opposed to standing up straight). They can have somewhat of a messy appearance because the fibers lay in every direction, but this is part of their charm. They tend to feel cozy and inviting.

    Based on this, friezes obviously don’t work for formal settings. They are great in family rooms and in basements, and they often look great on stairs, as the longer fibers can help to camouflage seams around railing posts.

  • 04 of 04

    Cut and Loop

    Greige pin dot cut and loop style carpet
    Cheryl Simmons

    This style is just as the name suggests: some of the fibers are cut, and others remain looped. The cut fibers and looped fibers are combined to make a pattern in the carpet.

    Cut and loop styles offer a wide variety of designs and textures, which work with various types of décor. The pattern made from combining the cut fibers and loops can range from a pin-dot style to a geometric design. Currently, linear patterns which give a striated look are very popular.

    Depending on the pattern of the cut and loop, this style can work in various areas of the home. It is often well suited to modern or industrial-style décor.