A rug is an easy way to inject some life and style into any space. These days the choices are endless and by picking the right rug, you can really transform and finish your interior. A rug can help make a style statement and tie a room together as it allows you to easily integrate various design elements (colour, pattern, texture, light, line and shape) on a large scale.
Which room and what is the purpose of the rug in the room?
It could anchor an area in an open-living space, add some depth in a bedroom, add some colour and texture in an otherwise blend entrance hall… The ‘function’ of the rug will define the foot traffic it’ll have to withstand, the natural light it will receive and the shape, pattern, colours you could go for.
What type of rug?
Let’s be very aware that there are rugs and rugs out there! You will find some great designs and prices online and they may be exactly what is needed for your room. But when in doubt, go for wool. It will be a bit more expensive but wool has the best natural resilience to crushing and it is easier to spot clean. Wool rugs will feel softer and more luxurious. Viscose (man-made rayon fibres) should be avoided for the exact opposite reasons: the fibres are weak and any liquid on a viscose rug pretty much spells the end of it. Synthetic rugs (polypropylene, polyester or nylon fibres) are easier to clean and more durable than viscose rugs but the chemicals used in the fibres can be a real problem and obviously, a big fire-hazard. Lastly, a stat for you: a wool rug can last for 50 years or more while a synthetic rug will last 3 to 5 years. So go for wool!
Choose to try it first
You might fall in love with a rug in a shop but remember that it will always look different at home. If possible, bring the rug home and try it in its own space. See if it works during the day: a north-facing room will ‘read’ the rug completely differently than a south-facing room. The same goes in the evenings: the colours of the rug might look different with artificial lights on. A rug can be a big investment and it is important to get it right.
Which size shall I go for?
This is the number one question I get about rugs.
As a rule of thumb, I would always advise to go bigger if you can, even consider custom-sized for the room. Typically, in a lounge, go for a rug where you can place all the furniture on with still some room to move around. If you can’t, go for a rug where you can place the front feet of all the furniture on the rug. A small rug where only the coffee table sits will make the room look unfinished, unloved and a bit awkward.
Similarly, for a bedroom, the rug should be large enough to accommodate the width of the bed, plus some decent space on either side of it. I like to place a rug so that it stops before the bedside tables to balance the space visually and give it a bit of a ‘breathing space’. Alternatively, you can go for smaller rugs on either side of the bed.
Lastly in a dining room, the rug should be large enough to fit the dining table with the dining chairs. Ideally you want to be able to pull the chairs without catching the legs in the rug each time you do so. But, can I just say, after all these years you’ll still have to convince me to place a rug under a dining table! I totally understand that visually it works like a treat but in my mind the function of a dining area should come first and combining a rug with food crumbs or spillages doesn’t bode well…
This is important as the wrong rug might make the room feel too cluttered and cramped. If you go for a busy strong pattern in a small room, you can be sure that the space will feel full immediately. If you are looking for a softer mood, go for tones that complement or match the floor tones. That way you effectively add texture rather than strong colours or patterns and the space will feel bigger. However, a strong rug can be amazing and really set the room apart. You just have to look at the room as a whole with the various other furniture and colour elements. What is bold on the floor can be more subtle elsewhere to create balance and visual harmony.