How Do I Choose a Rug?

Dear Daniel,

How do I know if I should use a rug and when to show off my flooring? Help!

Sincerely, Rug-anxiety



Dear Rug-Anxiety,

I love rugs. Furniture groups can look like they are floating out at sea if there's no rug joining them all together. In fact, that's a good way to think about a room: your floor is the sea and your furniture is a like a bunch of debris just hanging out on its surface. If you want these objects to float together, they should be on one raft.

A rug should be one of the first things you select in redoing your room-not just because it can be used to determine the color palate for the entire space, but also because it may have the longest lead time if you choose to have one completely custom made.

Unless you are going for a really contemporary look, I often encourage people to buy antique rugs because the colors are more vibrant and there is a more tactile quality in an older weave. These older pieces feel handmade because they are. It's always pleasant to have a few handmade items in a room so it doesn't feel too commercial. Antiques are not very popular right now, so you can get tremendous deals on antique rugs. I especially like Turkish rugs made before 1940.

Rugs are about the worst thing you can skimp on, because a cheap rug might as well be thrown in the garbage tomorrow. They shed like crazy, and usually are much more difficult to clean. Anticipate spending a minimum of about $2,500 for something that's not disposable. If you need to stay under that amount, I recommend ordering a sisal or jute rug to cover almost all of the floor of your room, then buying cheap old rugs you don't care much about and layering those over the natural weave as they do in old country houses in England.

Even if your room is carpeted, an area rug may be a nice addition. Perhaps you have the idea that you just spent thousands of dollars installing a beautiful new floor and you don't want to cover it up. Rarely is a floor so spectacular that it won't be complimented by an area rug. You'll still see your flooring peaking out around the rug that holds all your furniture together. In this case it might be better to think of covering the floor in terms of writing a piece of music rather than floating at sea; your floor is your baseline. How many songs have your heard that have only a baseline?

With that, you have my blessing to get as many rugs as you have rooms...perhaps even more.

Sincerely, Daniel