The floor is the foundation for any room scheme and has a profound effect on its atmosphere, as well as appearance. The floor is also the most used and abused surface in any house; battered by feet, scraped by furniture, and requiring regular vacuuming, brushing, mopping, or sweeping.
When deciding what to do with floor, consider two issues: the floor itself and the carpeting or rug that covers it. Budget, the look, and how you plan to use the space will help you decide what to do.
Different parts of the house make different demands on their respective floor coverings. Some like halls, stairs corridors, and routes between well-used areas, require a floor that is particularly hard-wearing. Bathrooms, especially those with showers, work better if the flooring is waterproof. Kitchens work better if the flooring is stain-resistant. Bedrooms feel more comfortable if at least some of the floor is soft and warm to the touch of a bare foot.
A solid wood floor is timeless and beautiful, but if it's in bad condition, it should be refinished or covered with wall-to-wall carpeting. Floors such as concrete, stone, and ceramic tile are durable but hard on the feet in spaces where people stand a lot. Resilient floors such as vinyl, linoleum, cork, or rubber have some give and so are easier on the feet. Wall-to-wall carpeting is softer on the feet and can make a room look larger. It also absorbs sound. Area rugs are an investment that can easily be brought to your next house.
As no single material can comply perfectly with all these domestic demands, the tendency is to choose room-specific flooring. This is all very sensible, but can result in an interior that feels fragmented and jumpy as you step from quarry tiles in the hall to stripped floorboards in the living room to linoleum in the kitchen to carpet on the stairs, and so on.
Using a single type of flooring that flows from room to room is one of the tricks designers use to make a space appear larger; walls seem to "float" as if the the floor slipped beneath them, and the eye follows the floor through doorways, along corridors, and across landings in seamless vistas. Probably the most practical choices of single flooring are some kind of stone tile or wood. Both wood and stone can be softened with addition of rugs, to mark out seating areas in livings room, or create islands of warmth in bedrooms. For bathrooms and kitchens, both wood and stone can be sealed to be stain-and water resistant. Wall-to-wall carpet may be appropriate for upstairs bedrooms, where it muffles sound and makes rooms feel luxuriously cozy.