They have the ability to tie in different decor pieces, ground and warm up a space, or even add a little drama to an otherwise ho-hum room. Still, styling with rugs seem to be a design concept that evades many. For example, how much (or little) space should they take up? What about furniture placement on a rug? And what do you do when you're layering over carpet? It's easy to get overwhelmed when shopping for and decorating with rugs in your home, but designers have mastered this fine art and their favorite tips can not only make the process so much easier, but it can give a room the life and dimension you've been craving.
"Rugs are one of the key elements to help finish a room," says Brianne Bishop of Brianne Bishop Design. "They add warmth, color, and pattern as well as help to absorb sounds. So not only is it essential to have a rug in the right place, but also a big miss to not have one at all!" Obviously — as is the case with any aspect of interior decorating — choosing a rug is personal and there are factors like room size and shape, flooring, and current color schemes and styles to consider. That said, experts like Bishop do have some general do's and don'ts they refer to when sprucing up clients' spaces with rugs.
Wondering what kind of rug would work best with your current decor situation? Or how to rearrange with the ones you already have? Read ahead for a few tips and tricks that will have you styling with rugs like the pros do — and totally tie any room together.
Styling With Rugs: Consider Color & Pattern
"Rugs are art on the floor," Bishop says. "Selecting the right one should be approached as if you are choosing a piece for your wall." With that in mind, don't be afraid to go beyond the beige and use your rug as a piece that can provide some more visual interest, as Kirsten Kraston, co-founder of House of Jade Interiors and home shop recommends. "It's okay to have a rug that feels a little bold in color and pattern," she explains. "If we go that route, we will usually keep the rest of the space neutral and let the rug be the star. We generally gravitate towards patterns that are more tonal if we want the rug to be more understated."
And on the topic of color and pattern, Kraston adds that you can use this to your advantage in homes that can get a bit messy. "If our clients have kids or pets, we like to pick rugs that have quite a bit of color variation, so they don't show dirt or stains as much," she shares. All the more reason to get a little creative.
Styling With Rugs: Keep It Open
It can be tempting to pile all your furniture pieces on your rug, but Bishop says that's actually one of the most common decorating mistakes. Instead, if you have the space to do so, spread it out — literally. "Rarely do you want all of your furniture to fit on a rug," she explains. "Typically you like just the front legs of the sofa, or in the case of the bedroom never the nightstands. Just the area where your feet land." And the designer adds that how you orient your rug also plays a role here. "Often I see people spread their rugs in the wrong orientation," she says. "In a bedroom (for example) the longer end of the rug is perpendicular to your bed, allowing there to be enough rug on each side for your feet to have something soft to step on."
Styling With Rugs: Layer It Up
A favorite designer technique is layering rugs. Both Bishop and Kraston agree that if you're going to try the trick out in your home, the biggest takeaway is mixing it up with texture, shape, and size. "If you are layering a rug over carpet it is important to have a careful balance of differing textures, color, or pattern that work together," Bishop says. "I typically like to layer natural hides, jute, or kilim rugs when over carpet; a rug with a more natural shape."
And in studio or loft spaces, Kraston notes that pattern mixing — while a fun way to add more drama and interest — should be done with care. "For open-concept spaces, picking rugs should be a similar concept to choosing pillows for your sofa," she says. "Use two rugs that complement each other but aren't too similar that they compete. The rugs should also be somewhat in the same color family or tone. For example, we wouldn't do a super colorful rug with an earth tone in the next adjacent room."
Styling With Rugs: Add A Pad
Last but not lease, don't forget to buy a pad to place under whatever rug you decide on. "Never underestimate the importance of a good rug pad," Bishop says. "Especially for hardwood floors: It not only protects your rug but your floors too."
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