Monday, March 12, 2012

Decorating with Area Rugs

For my decorating friends and clients, let's talk area rugs.  Area rugs are a great way to add warmth and definition to any space.  Whether you have hardwood floors or wall-to-wall carpeting, it is often necessary to add area rugs to a room to complete the look and achieve the feeling that you want to emanate from the room.  Before you start looking for that rug, there  are a few elements that you need to consider: size, shape, material, pattern/color and placement.   All of these elements are equally important.  Another thing that is very important is the rug pad.  I recommend using a rug pad regardless of the floor surface because rugs wear out from the bottom.  The wear is caused by the friction between the bottom of the rug and the floor when you walk on it.  A rug pad will keep the rug in place and will add to the life of your area rug.  It's a good investment.

Size of the Rug:
The size, shape and decor of your room, and what you want to achieve within the space, will determine the size of the area rug.  Here are a few generalities to help you get started.  The smaller size rugs are usually placed to accent a piece of furniture in the room or a structure such as a fireplace or window seat.. By smaller sizes I mean: 2'x3', 3'x5' and 4'x6'.  Larger rugs, 6'x9' 8'x10', 9'x12' and 12'x15',  tend to be used for  the living room, bedroom or dining area.  Regardless of what room the rug is in always make sure that at least the front legs of the furniture touch the rug.  This will help to ground the rug so that it does not look like it is just floating on the floor.  However, in a dining space all four legs of the chair should be on the rug. A good rule of thumb is to add at least 48" to the table size for the rug. That will allow people to move chairs easily without disturbing the carpet ends. One major factor used to determine the size of rug is traffic into the room is the traffic pattern. Walkways are critical elements and bisecting them should be avoided.
The shape of a rug is important in the room. The most popular is a rectangle rug because it works well in most situations.  Round rugs tend to be used n bathrooms and under round tables.  In traditional settings I avoid using triangular and irregular shapes because they tend to be jarring to the eye, however, if the room is modern or very contemporary the irregular shape often works great within the space.

Area rugs can be made from both natural and synthetic fibers.  I often recommend a natural material such as wool because it wears well and has a natural resistance to dust mites.  Dust mites are a real issue for people with allergies.  Silk is a beautiful natural fiber but it will add about 3 times to the cost of the rug and it has to be cleaned by someone who knows how to maintain silk.  You will find that even adding a little silk  to the rug will up the cost of that rug considerably.Other natural fibers for area rugs are cotton, jute, sisal , seagrass and bamboo.  These are all good materials but will not wear as well in traffic areas  as wool on the floor.

Rugs can help to direct eye movement as well as traffic into a room. For this reason a large room may have multiple rugs.  When you mix rug sizes in a room for accent purposes, you do not have to have an exact match. It is more interesting if the rugs complement one another rather than match exactly.

Pattern/Color of the rug:
Pattern designs on rugs can be eye candy.  A pattern rug of floral or geometric design can add warmth and a feeling of completion to the design of  the space.  One of your first decisions will be to determine if you want the area rug to be the focal point in itself, to show off  the existing floor or to downplay the existing floor.
If you decide to have your furniture be the focal point then you'll want colors in the rug that lend with the upholstery of your furniture. You'll also be better off with a small pattern that is easy on the eye.  Small patterns also tend to make the room look more spacious. If you want the area rug to dominate the space than look for bold, vibrant colors.  This works best when the furniture is a solid color or a subdue color pattern. What you don't want is a room that has competing focal points.  Too many patterns and too much color can make the room look "busy". Just keep in mind that either the rug can be "busy" or the furniture patterns can be "busy", but not both.

Rugs hep protect floors, muffle sound and add softness to a room.  Deep colors will add warmth, light colors will make the room feel more spacious and vibrant or bold colors will add energy to the space.

Last, but not least we need to talk about placement of the area rug. As I previously stated always anchor the rug with furniture in the room.  In the bedroom and living room it can be as little as just the front legs of chairs.  However, in the dining area all the legs,(table and chairs) need to be on the rug with at least 2 feet behind the chairs for movement.

In large rooms with attractive flooring it is often good to keep at least a foot to 18" of  exposed. flooring around the perimeter.  You don't want to totally hide that beautiful hardwood or stained concrete floor. If the floor as a boarder as stained concrete ones may have that you want to keep that border visible.  If you have a small room that you may only want 6 to 12" of exposed flooring.

The biggest determining factor for placement is the traffic flow. It is best to cover the walkway area so that you don't create a situation where people can trip on the carpet ends.

I hope this increases your understanding for choosing area rugs for your home.  If you would like me to add any other details to this topic just email me your questions/concerns:

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