Area rugs offer effective, creative, stylish opportunities to define and enliven living spaces all around your home, as well as to make them more comfortable. They work in a wide variety of contexts, from large open rooms to small spaces, and from minimalist to heavily furnished and decorated environments.
Setting off part of a room with an area rug draws the eye, cushions the feet, and provides a sense of purpose. For example, the item can beckon guests to a warmly welcoming seating area. Such delineation through décor also frees up the rest of the room for different purposes. Area rugs are also a useful way to simultaneously accentuate and protect hardwood floor surfaces.
Area rugs that are too big, extending far beyond the furniture they encompass or the space they define, typically won’t properly encapsulate the space and may detract from otherwise thoughtful design.
For example, an area rug beneath a bed should be there for your feet in the morning, offering at least 2 feet of soft protection from the shock of a cold floor. In a dining room, the rug should fully encompass all the chairs even in a pulled-out position. In a seating area in the living room, the area rug defines the conversation space; at the least, the front legs of chairs and couches should be on the rug, which not only establishes the space, it prevents sliding furniture as well.
Shape Matters Too
As for the area rug’s shape, consider the room shape and the rug’s purpose. A round one works well in a wide, shallow room, including foyers, but they should generally be centered in the room or beneath a light fixture. Elongated rectangular area rugs have a variety of uses, but are especially well suited to hallways, and should be centered and clear of furniture. Squares and rectangles are best for setting off specific living spaces in rooms. Orient rectangular rugs to match the length-width structure of the room to ensure a harmonious feel.
For a more daring approach in a large, open room, consider laying square and round rugs at opposite ends of the room. Further bring the effects to life by placing rounded furnishings on the square rug and squared furnishings on the round rug.
Colors and Patterns
Designer rugs come in an endless array of colors, patterns, and styles. These characteristics should reference the design motif of the room in a cohesive, complementary way, but not simply with straight repetition. Too much of one color or pattern makes a room seem lifeless; take advantage of the area rug’s ability to build on the room’s theme, not merely repeat it, to add depth of character and more visual engagement.
Avoid layering area rugs, as this easily leads to pattern conflicts or disruptive busyness. However, don’t be afraid to use area rugs in carpeted rooms (assuming the carpeting is a solid color). Carpeted rooms benefit just as much from delineated living spaces and added color, and a smartly chosen area rug will help tie together the carpeting and the rest of the room’s design and furnishings.
As with any other aspect of designing your home, using an area rug to decorate and define living spaces should be fun and highly personal. Make rug choices that reflect your personality and emphasize the mood you seek to create in any given room and space.