Ultimate Guide to Buying & Arranging Rugs
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Rug Rules1 of 9
By Amy Ahlberg
Whether your style is modern, traditional or somewhere in between, a fabulous room requires the perfect foundation—a great area rug. But how big, what material and do you really need a rug pad? Read on for all these answers and more.
Go Natural2 of 9
When you're rug shopping, choose natural materials, says Nicki Clendening, co-founder of NYC interior design firm Scout Designs. "Wool, silk, sisal, hemp or jute are all great choices," she explains. "Avoid anything synthetic, which will not clean well or wear well over time. If you're on a budget, funky kilims, sisals or hemp rugs are inexpensive options to cover your floors."
Stay Flexible3 of 9
"When choosing a rug, grab the end of the rug and bunch it up in your hands. You should be able to fold it. If the rug is so stiff that it can only be rolled, steer clear," says Clendening.
Mellow Out4 of 9
As much as you may love bright colors, when it comes to rugs, it's best to stick to more muted, natural hues. The reason? Rugs in saturated shades (like hot pink or bright turquoise) are often made with synthetic dyes. "These synthetic dyes are not only less healthy to live with, they tend to run if something is spilled on them and when the rug is subsequently cleaned," says Clendening. If you can't tell if the rug is synthetic or made of natural materials, ask the seller for more details.
Padding Pointers5 of 9
Rug pads not only keep rugs from slipping and bunching up; they also serve as shock absorbers, protecting rugs from the everyday wear of foot traffic. A Scout Designs favorite is the Dura-Hold rug pad. "It's a quarter inch thick, and has a natural rubber bottom that will not stain wood floors. Another bonus? "It's thick enough to allow air to circulate between the rug and the floor—important because good air circulation helps alleviate any moisture that may be present due to humid conditions," says Clendening.
A Clean Sweep6 of 9
"Natural wool rugs should never be treated chemically with Scotchgard or the like," says Clendening. "For most spills, a solution of warm water and soap will do the trick. And good rugs shouldn't need to be cleaned more than every five to seven years by a professional." Clendening also warns against having rugs steam-cleaned while they're lying flat on the floor. "That will cause mildew or mold in the rug. If your rugs get wet, they need to be hung to dry," she says.
Size Matters7 of 9
Ever wonder just how big an area rug should be? It depends on the space, and what you’re trying to accomplish with the room, says Clendening. "But in general, the biggest mistake people make is choosing a rug that is too small." Choose a rug that is large enough to define the space, especially if it's a large room that has dual purposes such as a living and dining.
A Leg Up8 of 9
It's a common design dilemma—should the legs of sofas (and armchairs) be on or off the living room area rug? Says Clendening, "It's a personal preference of mine that the sofa feet should be on the rug—and if not all four feet, at least the front two." And don't forget to center the sofa and chairs to your rug rather than the room. Your space will feel unbalanced otherwise.
Hallway Hints9 of 9
Long, narrow hallways look more welcoming—and finished—with runners. As for the length of the runner, Clendening suggests leaving 12 to 24 inches of space at each end of it, depending on the length of the hallways. And if all else fails, it's better to choose the longest runner you can find and center it in the hallway rather than placing two runners, end to end.