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Flooring creates character

Floor treatments can give different effects to a room.

Carpet, for example, absorbs sound, giving the room a tranquil feel. The plusher the carpet, the cozier the atmosphere.

If your room is small, wall-to-wall carpet helps unify the look. If the furniture you have seems to overpower the room, reupholstering it in the same color as the carpet will help expand the room.

A wall-to-wall rush mat or sisal floor covering conveys a rustic atmosphere, while a floor covered with tile brings on a cool, tropical feeling.

Area rugs isolate the space and accentuate the furniture around it.

A dramatic way to create special places within a room is to vary the levels of the floor. A simple platform at one end of the room will give you a focal point. If it's in the living room, the raised level can serve as a place for a game table and chairs, for a writing desk or a conversation seating area. If the room is an open living/dining space, the elevated area can be designated for dining, thereby visually separating the rooms without physical barriers.

If space is tight and you cannot elevate an entire section, consider a platform for art displays.

To make a room come alive , varying floor levels can help. When you walk into a room and have to take one or two steps down to actually be in the room, feelings of grandeur seem to be conjured up. If stepping down is not feasible, how about stepping up? A bedroom, for example, can have drama if the bed is a level or two higher than the rest of the room. If you have the space, make the platform wide enough for the nightstands, too, so the whole ensemble seems to be on an island.

Mirrored ceilings can be another way to create drama and add illusionary levels. A mirrored dining room ceiling can open a small room up, giving height to an otherwise normal or claustrophobic ceiling level. If you have a tray ceiling, mirroring the flat part in the center can add height to any room.

When varying the floor levels in a room, please remember: safety first.

Though you want a visually smooth transition from one level to the other, changing the floor finish from one level to the other serves as a visual warning.

For example, for a step-down sunken living room you might use tile or marble on the upper levels and carpet in the sunken area. Another method is to border the step-down area with an accent color carpet.

Stepping down seems to add more danger than stepping up, though it wouldn't hurt to be safe and add a colorful border around the areas that go up, too. That platform for your bed could have a different color border around it that will not only help avoid tripping, but also outline the area, for an even more dramatic look.

Do you want a real piece of art on your multileveled floors? Have the carpet inlaid with a design that cascades on the steps.

Take the bedroom platform, for example. Have the wall-to-wall carpet of one solid color. Take one corner of the platform and have complementary colored flowers drape down the steps. Now there's a conversation piece.