A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

carpeting and other nasty American habits

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 21, 2008

As anyone who has lived in New York long enough to rent an apartment will tell you, New York apartments have at least one fundamental thing in common: their wood flooring. Wooden plank floors are the signature of all pre-war (WWI) apartments, and are installed in many more recent apartments as well.

For me, wooden floors are a normal sign of New York homes – just like concrete, granite, or marble floors are a normal sign of Arab world homes. So back in August when we were apartment-hunting I was un-surprised that every apartment we saw had wood floors.

What did surprise me was H’s delight.

I can’t believe all these apartments have wooden floors! he said happily.

At first, I thought that this was a Lebanese reaction to wood. There are trees in Lebanon, but they are few enough that most “wood” flooring is actually synthetic – even in very nice homes.

But H grew up in the United States, so wood is less of a novelty for him. What really delighted him about the wooden flooring was what it was not: carpeting.

Carpeting is a big thing in the United States. Wall-to-wall carpeting is standard in most houses, and carpeting is a big industry.

Nubby carpeting that invites tired feet to sink into and relax:

Textured carpeting that says “warmth” but also “professional home office”:

Hotel carpeting – plush and patterned – communicates luxury to guests:

But to H – and I’m guessing to anyone who grows up with washable floors – carpeting does not say “luxurious”. It says: “gross”.

Just think of all the stuff that settles into it, he said, making a face. Dust, dirt, food, animal hair – and it just stays there forever.

That’s why people vacuum, I said. But vacuuming doesn’t cut it in his mind: only a good scrubbing with mop and disinfectant soap counts as floor-cleaning – something best done at least once a day.

Well. H certainly lives a cleaner life than I do – or at least he did in Lebanon. Our wooden floors get swept regularly, but please banish from your minds any vision of me coming home from work each night and slinging a mop around :).


6 Responses to “carpeting and other nasty American habits”

  1. Maria said

    That’s exactly the same attitude Italians have about carpeting, and one I have to admit I’ve come to myself. Unfortunately, wood flooring in Northern Virginia is the exception to the rule so we’ve always had it.

  2. S. Worthen said

    At least Americans don’t tend to carpet their bathrooms. Ick. It’s a dying trend here in the UK, but was so popular in the 70s and 80s that there’s still way, way too much of it about.

  3. Hello and a big hug to my favorite sisters 🙂 🙂

    Owlfish, I take it that this means you will not be carpeting the bathrooms in your new home – yay! And Maria, I bet that Americans and our love of carpeting is the global exception, rather than the rule. I now can’t get H’s comments out of my head whenever I find myself sitting on carpeted floors … !

  4. Maria said

    Yay sisters!
    The one exception I make to my dislike of carpeting is the soft blue wool carpet we have in my parents house. It’s like 30 years old but is soooooo soft. I’ve never seen carpeting like that anywhere else.

  5. intlxpatr said

    I am in TOTAL agreement with H. I HATE carpeting, other than the gorgeous Iranian carpets we put over our wooden or marble floors! Carpeting is just NASTY! We learned in Florida – things LIVE in the carpets! Roaches! Roly Polys! Fleas! The only thing you can do is to get carpet cleaners in once or twice a year and have the carpets thoroughly steamed and washed, but still . . . give me wood floors any day.

  6. Jb said

    Great website! I’ll be reading it often.

    I’ve pulled up lots of carpet and would never choose it again. Regular use and frequent cleanings force some of the dirt downward through the backing and pad, creating a fine powder that can’t be reached by any cleaning method. It’s somewhat removed from direct contact with our bodies, but it’s there nonetheless.

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