Rugs are adornment, accent, art. Fashion and function. They create frame and foreground, pulling a room together, defining the area where activity takes place, anchoring the feet of our furniture and cushioning the feet of our bodies. We sink our toes in, brush our soles across them.
These days, because of computer technology, any design, color or shape one can come up with can be put into a rug, creating a cool modern look. There are also the humble nomad rugs that feel perfect for the global-chic client. We are seeing a lot of this look lately, which has a bohemian vibe; these are the Turkish rugs, the Flokatis — sheepskin rugs in natural shapes, or rectangles, where the wool is only minimally processed from its original state.
Two of the fastest ways to refresh a home without redoing the entire interior are paint colors and area rugs; something to think about when the holidays are approaching if you are feeling like your space needs a lift before your next big party. Especially worth examining is the carpet runner on your stairs; replacing that can make it feel like you have a whole new house.
Building a room around a rug
Like choosing art for a room, a rug can be the first piece that you select when developing a plan for redesigning a whole room, with everything else —colors, textures, vibe— coming together around it or it can come later, as the final piece that cinches a look. If you find a rug you absolutely love, something that is strong in color and pattern, you might find neutral-toned furnishings are the best choice to fill in around it.
To do rugs well, you need to consider all of these details, and in addition, select the right size and placement, and have a look and feel that pleases your eye — and feet — balances with the rest of the elements in the room.
Choosing a rug size
When rugs are too small, we can feel it. A catch in your breath, a sense of feeling squeezed. Our bodies sense the imbalance. There are basic guidelines you can follow, including templates you can research on Pinterest, and then again, sometimes rules are made to be broken; every room has its own balance point, determined by the square footage and the objects in the space.
Here are a few of my guidelines, although nothing is absolute until the rest of the room, including furnishings and dimensions, is taken into account.
In a bedroom
If you are not placing the entire bed on a rug, you want to go with the rule of thirds; either two-thirds of the rug is under the bed and one third extends past the foot of the bed, or if you prefer not to step out onto the rug, then one third under the foot of the bed, and two thirds out past the end. If the entire bed is on the rug, then the distance it extends out past the foot may be one-fourth of the total length. The rug should be wider than it is long. Proportions will depend on the size of the room and size and placement of nightstands.
In a dining room
The rug should extend out far enough that the back legs of the chairs will still be on the rug, even when pulled out. Overall room size can affect this measurement since the relationship with distance to the walls and other furniture comes into play.
In a living room
Rugs can look best if all of the feet of all furnishings are within the perimeter, however it is common practice in interior design to have rugs extend under only the front feet of a couch to at least half-way under the seat. Smaller pieces, like chairs and end tables, those should be placed with all feet situated on the rug, not just the front.
You can try this at home: Start with a larger rug underneath in a neutral tone. Jute or sisal are nice materials to work with. I like jute because it is soft and flat, and feels good under the foot. Sisal has a rougher texture, but has the added benefit of being sturdy and more durable. Place a smaller rug on top in a bright color and pattern, sized so that you have a nice frame around it. A current trend is to place a cowhide as the top layer, at an angle.
Why layering? Like when you dress, adding a scarf, jacket, lipstick, the right shoes… layers can provide a more put-together feeling in a room and can connote coziness depending on the materials. The key is calculated restraint; we want neither to feel monk-like and boring, nor overly cluttered.
While rugs make our homes cozier, they also collect dirt and dust. Keeping them well-vacuumed extends the life of a carpet, but do not use the “beater bar” setting on your vacuum. You want suction-only. Most vacuums have a switch for carpet, check your instructions to make sure you are not engaging that bar with the brushes on it if you choose that setting.
If you have questions about the right size of a rug for your space and furnishings, or would like to schedule a consult for giving yourself a full-home rug-uplift for the holidays, give us a call.