Where do you go for style inspiration? Do you have a file of magazine clippings, a Pinterest Board or a Houzz Ideabook filled with rooms you love? Have you spent time analyzing what you like about each room or which elements the rooms have in common? Look back through your photos and notice the floor. Chances are, that most of the rooms you love utilize an area rug.
Most interior designers will tell you that there are few things that can change the look and feel of a room faster than rolling out a new rug. A rug can set the tone for a bare-bones room or it can be the one thing that helps tie several pieces together.
I often hear people say, “I don’t need a rug. I have wall-to-wall carpet.” It is okay to layer rugs and to use rugs in a room with carpet. Even though you may not need the rug for warmth and comfort, a rug will still add to the overall design of the room. Area rugs help define spaces and add color, pattern, texture and interest.
Choosing a rug can be quite overwhelming. There are several factors to consider and the options are endless – many rug catalogs are hundreds of pages thick. I often hear people say, “I’m sure the right thing will just jump out and grab me!” or “I’ll know it when I see it.” These people often become frustrated and often give up the search. Putting some thought into what you are looking for will help you narrow your search and really increase your chances of finding the right rug that will give your room the look and feel you are trying to achieve. Here are a few tips and factors to consider:
1. Start Early
If you have an empty room, choosing a rug first is one of the easiest ways to begin. Most of your bigger furniture pieces are likely to be made of solid colored fabrics or leathers. A patterned rug can provide your color palette for the entire room. Colors for furniture, paint, and window coverings and accessories can be selected from the rug.
If you are adding a rug to a room that is mostly finished, keep an open mind. Look for a rug that incorporates the colors from the pieces in the room that you like the best. This will help reinforce the color palette that you like. I do not recommend choosing a rug (or any other pieces) to match pieces that you do not love or that you plan to replace in the near future.
If you have an otherwise neutral room, adding a bold color on the floor can make a big impact fast. Repeat the color a couple more times around the room, and it is surprising what a big change you can make with just a few touches.
2. Consider Pattern and Color
When deciding what kind of pattern would work best on your rug, consider what overall style you are trying to achieve. Large over-scaled patterns and asymmetrical patterns are often used in contemporary rooms. Smaller, more intricate patterns are often considered more traditional.
One of the most popular styles today, is transitional – which is a mix of both, or what we often refer to as “updated traditional.” In a transitional room, natural materials like jute are often used, and jute rugs can be layered with other rugs or even with cowhides (which are very durable and resistant to spills.) Transitional patterns could be geometric, or if they are a more traditional pattern, like a paisley, the scale is larger, making it feel more contemporary.
Solid colors in a flat, plush or shag texture can look good in any kind of room. A darker color can help ground a space. It can help designate a conversation area in a large room. A lighter rug can help make a space feel light and airy and more open.
3. Texture & Comfort
Consider how you use the rug. Do your kids lie on the floor? If so, some of the shag rugs with very soft fabrics are great for relaxing. Do you eat in the room? – if so, it would be wise to opt for a rug that can be vacuumed. There are also different thicknesses of rug pads that can affect the comfort of the rug.
Many “indoor/outdoor” rugs are now stylish and nice enough to use indoors and they are durable and resistant to spills.
Flat weave rugs are not the most comfortable, but they often pack a punch of color or a graphic pattern for a relatively lower price.
Rugs can be used to designate a space. A small rug can look wrong in a large room. If your room is an odd shape, you may want to consider a round shape or even layer more than one rug. There are many guides available for selecting the right size for your room. Designers often disagree about how furniture should be placed on a rug. Some say every foot of a piece of furniture must be on the rug, others say that this is a “rule” to be broken.
The most common mistake is to go with a rug that is too small for the room or the area. When you are selecting, it is a good idea to tape off the space with painter’s tape to make sure the rug fits your area appropriately.
5. How much to budget
Some people shop for Heirloom quality rugs and spend tens of thousands of dollars on one area rug. This is not the case for most people. If you invest this kind of money in an area rug, some rugs can last for years and be passed down from generation to generation.
Do you want to keep the rug forever? Or will you want to feel justified in replacing it after it has been spilled on and walked on for a few years.
If you like to redecorate and change styles often, an heirloom quality rug, may not be the best choice. When you are shopping, it is always a good idea to communicate your budget with your salesperson or designer. This will help them offer you suggestions that will fit your qualifications.
6. Where to shop
The internet is a great source for finding different styles of rugs, but a local retail store can usually beat internet prices and you won’t have to pay extra shipping. Often the prices that pop up on your screen are for a small rug and do not include shipping. If you shop online, make sure that you are pricing the size you want and including shipping and a rug pad. If you find something you love online, be sure to compare the price with an actual brick and mortar store. Most of our customers who have shopped online are surprised to find that our prices are actually lower.
7. How to decide
To visualize the rug in your space, some websites have programs that let you set a piece of furniture on a rug in a room with your choice of wall colors and floor coverings. This can be very helpful in determining what the pattern and scale will look like.
I like to make a board or collage of my room when I am planning for the big purchases. Ask for a second opinion of someone whose style you appreciate.
Most stores that sell rugs should have some kind of option to order or check out a sample of the rug you are considering. Taking a sample home and seeing it in your own space can reassure you that you are planning in the right direction.