Helpful Hints

Magic Carpet Ride: Five Tips for Picking the Perfect Area Rug

We’ve touched on the importance of area rugs on the blog before but haven’t given them their own post.  Rugs are a key player in interior design since they can help set the focal point of the room as well as the color palette.  Rugs can make a room seem larger, or make a room seem smaller.  They can help define an area within a room or designate where to walk and help people navigate the space.  Since rugs are such a valuable aspect of your decor it can become a bit stressful trying to choose the right one.  Here are some tips for what to look for when shopping for a new area rug.

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Size Matters

The most important part of choosing a rug is making sure you purchase one that fits the space correctly.  You want to make sure that the rug will fit the configuration of the furniture.  A general rule of thumb in regards to size you can follow is: look for a rug that is two feet shorter than the smallest wall in the room.  Some sources will tell you that you need to decide if the furniture will be all on the rug or entirely off the rug, but having just the front legs of a piece on the rug is acceptable as well, as long as it’s a stationary piece and not something that will be getting moved around a lot.  In dining rooms the size of the table will help dictate the size of the rug.  Dining room rugs should extend at least eighteen inches past the edge of the table to accommodate chairs being pushed in and out; no one likes getting stuck on the rug when trying to pull in their chair before eating.

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Know Your Fibers

Make sure you choose a rug made out of the best material for the space it will be placed.  You need to keep in mind how much traffic the rug will get, since some fibers hold up better to wear than others, and how soft to the touch you want your rug to be.  When in doubt, go with wool.  Wool is soft, durable, and strong.  It will wear well and even develop its own sort of patina that will make it look even better with time.  Acrylic rugs often feature blends of polyester or polypropylene and a natural fiber.  Synthetic fibers can usually stand up to foot traffic well and are easy to care for but will not be as soft to the touch as wool.  Natural fibers like jute and sisal are incredibly durable but can be difficult to clean, making it inappropriate for spaces that may have a lot of spills.

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Play with Texture

Rugs offer a great opportunity to play with texture in a space.  The rug in a room should work with the finishes of furniture (whether you buy the rug first or the furniture first, the principle still applies).  If the furniture is very sleek and in a fabric like leather a fluffier rug with a longer pile will serve as a nice contrast; if the furniture is in a softer fabric like velvet try going smoother with a short pile or for a sleek cowhide.  As with all of these tips, keep in mind the use of the space when looking at different textures.  How much traffic the rug will get may impact what texture you ultimately go for.  Different textures have varying degrees of difficulty cleaning, and raised pile or shag rugs can be a tripping hazard in high traffic areas.

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Consider Colors

Rugs are a wonderful way to add pops of color and pattern to your decor.  But make sure that the rug complements the color palette of the room.  You may even decide to pick a rug first and let the colors of the rug guide your choices for the rest of the pieces in the room.  Rugs can be like works of art on the floor, so don’t be afraid to make some bold color choices.

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Don’t Be Afraid of Layers

Layering rugs may not be traditional, but it provides even more opportunity to play with color, texture, and pattern in a room.  Layering rugs can work with any design aesthetic and will add dimension and depth to the decor as well as help create a focal point.  It’s also an ideal solution if you fall in love with a rug that is too small for the space.  You can buy a neutral rug in a natural fiber like jute or sisal that will correctly fit the room, and then place the smaller rug on top.  The neutral rug will cover the right amount of floor space and serve as a frame for the statement rug.

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Hopefully these hints will help you choose the right area rug for your space.  Whether planning the room around a rug or fitting a rug into an existing decor keeping this tips in mind should help the process go a lot smoother.  Find what works for you and what will make you happy every time you look at it.  And if you find a rug you really love, consider putting a glass coffee table or dining table on top of it to make sure it doesn’t get too covered up.

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