Pick a Rug that Will Floor You

I have hardwood flooring in nearly every room of my old home. While I love the charm of wood floors, I confess that I think of them as a blank canvas just waiting to be dressed up with the right area rug.

Areas rugs are a key component of a well designed room. They must be the right size to anchor the room’s furnishings and the right style to complement the room’s décor. Plus they must be tough enough to withstand lots of abuse and still look lovely. Picking a rug that can accomplish all that is not an easy feat.

If you’re on a quest for a new rug, read on for tips on how to pick a rug you’ll love. Then, plan a trip to Nell Hill’s Briarcliff because during the entire month of September, all our area rugs are 20% off.

Hold Out for True Love

I think of area rugs as artwork. They bring loads of color, texture, style and personality to a space. So when I’m on the hunt for a new area rug, I only consider those that capture my heart. Don’t ever purchase an area rug just because it has the right colors for your room or is the right size. Rugs can be very expensive, so chances are, you’ll be living with your choice for many years. Hold out for a rug that captivates you and complements the room.

Right now I have two favorite styles. The first is a Persian rug reproduction by Kalaty Rug Corp., which is located in the heart of the rug district in New York City. I’m head over heels in love with their Soumak collection because these classic beauties look just like the old Persian rugs I fawn over in antique stores but can’t afford.

I stock several of the Soumak patterns in my stores, and each one looks like it has a history, a story to tell. I’ve also been impressed by the workmanship and affordability of the Kalaty rugs.

Each rug is made with high quality wool and features a harder, thinner weave that doesn’t easily crush or show wear.

My other top pick? Natural fiber rugs. They look great with just about any decorating style, from traditional to modern. Their subtle texture and subdued color work with any color scheme. They wear like iron so they are family friendly. And they are so affordable you don’t feel like you’re making a lifetime commitment when you purchase one.

For my living room, I picked a large sisal that covered most of the floor. In the winter, I layer Persian rugs on top to warm up the two distinct sitting areas. But during the summer, I roll up the wool rugs so I could enjoy the crisp look of the sisal. I’m so crazy about the effect I may install wall-to-wall sisal in my bedroom.

If you’re considering a natural fiber rug for your home, here’s a quick look at three popular types:

Sisal, my favorite, is made from the same cactus plant used to make tequila. The pulp is spun into ropes, which are then woven into mats. With its clean, bright appearance, sisal is a great choice for those who want a transitional or contemporary feel.

Seagrass rugs are made from a reed that grows in marshy areas. As a result, the grass has a natural coating that allows it to more easily repel moisture. A friend of mine swears by seagrass rugs after her teen boys spilled a cola on one and the morning after, the liquid was still beaded on top of the rug and wiped up easily.

Dragon grass is simply seagrass that’s grown in more arid soil, giving it a slightly darker color. Often, dragon grass rugs are available in a wider variety of patterns, some of which have a more refined appearance, making them a better pick for formal rooms.

Coir rugs are made from coconut husks and are the roughest of the vegetable fiber rugs. It’s best to use them for walk-off mats by your door or on a screened porch. While these are some of the most common vegetable fiber rugs, you can also find rugs made of hemp, jute, bamboo and even woven paper.

You’ll also need to pick how the edges of your new rug will be finished: surged or bound in cotton tape. I’m a fan of cotton tape, but picking the right color can be tricky. Light colored tapes look marvelous and are so versatile you can move them from room to room. However, they will show dirt more readily. Dark colored tape hides dirt, but when you pick a distinct color, like navy or red, you limit your design options.

Get the Right Size

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to purchase an area rug that is too small for the space. This cost-saving measure usually doesn’t pay off in the long run because an incorrectly sized rug can throw off the look of the entire room, even if the furnishings are fabulous.

To determine what size rug you’ll need, decide where your furnishings will be placed. If the furniture will rim the room, your area rug should measure a foot or two smaller than the room’s perimeter. If your furniture grouping will float in the center of the room, perhaps in front of a fireplace, your area rug should be large enough so that the front legs of your furniture can rest upon it.

Similarly, in your dining room, don’t make the common mistake of getting a rug that’s the same size as your table top. Add 18 inches to each side to accommodate your chairs.

Give Your Rugs Lots of TLC

Once you invest in a gorgeous rug, treat it right so it will look lovely for years to come. Start by putting a high-quality pad under the rug because the right pad can double the lifespan of a rug, especially if the rug is in a high traffic area.

Sunlight can slowly leach the color out of a rug, so if your rug is in a sunny room, close the window shades when the sun is beating down directly on the rug. In addition, be sure to rotate your rug on a regular basis to even out factors like sun exposure and wear.

When cleaning a wool rug, sweep or vacuum on low suction and never vacuum against the nap of the rug. Check with the manufacturer for recommendations on how to treat stains. But when accidents happen, you should clean the stain immediately, before it has a chance to set in, working from the outside of the stain in to avoid the stain spreading.

While vegetable fiber rugs are very durable, they are not indestructible. Like any natural product, they can break down under wear and weathering. Keep the rugs away from moisture and treat them with stain protector to prevent spills and dirt from absorbing into the fibers. For day-to-day maintenance, use a high-suction vacuum cleaner, but don’t ever engage the beater bars as they can tear up the fibers.

Next Week …Looking for fun ideas for fall tabletop displays? You’ll find them here, in next week’s blog.