Area rugs for the knowing designer

When you’re designing a room and trying to tie all the elements together, don’t forget a really big one that a lot of people miss on: the flooring. Finding the right size for a room can be more challenging than it seems. I spoke to some local Calgary designers about this in my column with the Calgary Sun:

The right area rug can really add to a room – photo courtesy The Decorating Den.

The second largest and broadest expanse of colour in a room is the floor. Home owners need to put a lot of thought into the size, colour and texture of the area rug, as this item can make or break a room.

“Incorporating area rugs in your home is a must,” says Katie O’Dwyer, designer and owner of Decorating Den in Calgary.

“Area size is crucial and one of the biggest mistakes I see when I go into my clients’ homes. It is usually way too small.”

For a traditional look, the rug should be at least big enough for the front legs of the furniture, like sofas and chairs, to be on the rug, says Tracy Wharton, owner of Wharton Interior Design. “Or, have all the furniture legs on the rug only if that still allows for approximately 18-inches of the base flooring to show around the perimeter,” she says.

Another mistake that designers see with rugs is too small for a dining room. O’Dwyer suggests the ideal is that when you pull your chairs out, all four legs are still on the rug.

Contemporary styles allow for a smaller rug. “This applies especially to dramatic rugs such as shag or very graphically patterned area rugs where a large rug could overwhelm a room,” Wharton says. “In a case like that, one might have six to 12 inches of exposed floor around the rug and in front of the furniture.”

Colour is the next big decision after size and homeowners need to take their lifestyle into account. “If you have pets and kids, definitely go with a forgiving colour,” O’Dwyer says. “If you have plain furniture, definitely add some pattern on your area rug.”

Different patterns throughout the room can be mixed together and look great, especially if the patterns are in different scales.

“Oriental carpets are especially versatile from a colour and style perspective,” Wharton says. “They work well in traditional and contemporary interiors and so allow homeowners to change their look without needing to buy a new rug. This is very important as many rugs are investment pieces themselves.”

Another detail to think about is to always use a rug pad. Not only will it make the rug feel more plush, but it will also make your rug last longer as they wear from the back.

Choosing the right area rug is fairly intuitive and there are no real set rules. “At one time or another, I have broken all of these rules,” Wharton says. “The process can be hard to get right. When possible, I start with choosing a rug and build a room out from there. It is usually far easier to find furniture to match a rug than the other way around.”

Word of the day:

Loquacious: talking or tending to talk much or freely; talkative; chattering; babbling; garrulous: a loquacious dinner guest

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