Floorcoverings
Have a question about The Federal Style? If you don't find the answers here, send us an e-mail.
"I currently live in a Federal Style home completed circa 1805. My question is in regards to the stair case...would they have used stair runners in the Federal Style? Are there books that would help me choose floorcoverings for the rest of my home? Thanks so much for your help!"
Reproduction Carpeting in Samuel McIntire's Oak Hill Rooms, Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Author's Reply:         

Thanks for writing.  During the Federal Period, very little carpeting was manufactured in the U.S. and imported carpeting was very costly.   The hand-knotted Orientals, English-made carpets (Axminsters, Wiltons, Brussels) that were available were used only by the very wealthy.  An available carpet that was used both as a floorcovering and a stair runner is called "Venetian".   It was a flat woven textile loomed in narrow lengths, that was reversible, long wearing, and could be kept clean with a broom (no vacuum cleaners either!).  In service areas, it was striped and for the front stairs it was patterned.  In average American homes, it was common to see carpets that were loomed by hand on small looms,  matting, and painted canvas floorcloths. 

An excellent book that describes period floor coverings and offers sources to purchase reproductions is "Floor Coverings for HIstoric Buildings".   "Classic America" is another invaluable book. It is filled with color photographs of fully-furnished period rooms.

Best of luck with your historic house!

Lawrence Smith and MaryBeth Mudrick, authors Federal Style Patterns 1780-1820

For Historic Buildings: Floor Coverings Great for the Historic Homeowner. Includes many sources.
Classic America: The Federal Style & Beyond Gorgeous full color photographs of furnished period rooms.
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