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Design Underfoot – Choosing The Perfect Area Rug

Most rooms benefit greatly from the addition of an area rug or two – so if you haven’t considered one in the past, or are looking to update what you currently have, this week’s column is just for you! Besides providing comfort underfoot, they offer inspiration for colour schemes and can hide unsightly flooring, such as worn hardwood or carpeting. Because of the myriad of designs and styles, area rugs offer a touch of class and flare in one single swoop; perfect for sound dampening in large open concepts, area rugs can be easily repositioned and reused throughout the house, making them the perfect design investment.


Most rugs are available in a wide variety of standard sizes, from a two-by three-foot mat to a 10-by 14-foot carpet, and up; modern designs can be custom made to almost any size. To determine the maximum-size rug that will fit in a room, I like to subtract three to four feet from the room’s width and length, which will create a frame of flooring between the rug and the walls. For a dining room, choose an area rug that is four feet wider and longer than your table so the chairs will remain on the carpet even when pulled out. For example, a 10- by 16-foot rug will fit under a table that seats 10 people; an eight- by 10-foot rug will generally fit under a table that seats six to eight. Large rugs are terrific in helping to pull furniture out and away from your walls: nothing seems less cozy than a room with everything pushed up against the perimeter and large, empty spaces in between. And a handy little tip to consider: if you can’t find the right size, snag some broadloom off-the-roll and have it bound… that’s what I do in spaces that are hard to fit or a-typical in size.


Where a rug is to be placed will obviously influence your choice of material and pattern. For example, before putting a rug under any furniture, consider whether or not it’s actually suitable. A needlepoint rug should not be used under a dining table, where the movement of chair legs repeatedly can damage it over time. Instead, choose a hand-knotted or a natural wool rug for its durability. Something with an intricate pattern will also camouflage stains in a setting where food and drink will be present. If laying over hardwood in an area that gets lots of direct sunlight, remember to take them up or move to a different room in the house for a bit – over exposure of UV rays will lighten the hardwood overtime and leave a darker patch where the rug usually sits.


When choosing your pattern, consider what will work best with your decor. For example, a rug with a centre medallion design works well in an open-seating arrangement or when centered under furniture (such as a glass table), where the design will still be visible. In rooms with awkward or asymmetrical proportions, a rug with an overall abstract pattern works best because it distracts attention from problem areas. Pattern and colour can also create useful design illusions: horizontal-striped patterns help to make a narrow space look wider, while a rug with a mix of tone-on-tone textures helps to expand an area and keep it feeling spacious. Dark coloured rugs anchor furnishings in rooms with paler, more monochromatic colour schemes, and add an obvious focal point. And don’t be scared to go a little more daring when selecting an area rug – spaces that seem to be lacking some punch may very well be needing a rug with some wow factor to help push your design scheme to the next level.

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