Or, Why Decorating with Rugs is Divine
Have I mentioned how much I love rugs? I don’t mean terrible toupees but the exceptional works of art that skilled artisans toil over endlessly just to have us walk all over them (their work, not the craftspeople/wizards). I have been known to get teary at the sight of a good rug (fabulous fabric, also) and often use these beautifully crafted wonders as the basis for a room.
Whether it’s an intricate Aubusson or an impressionistic contemporary piece, rugs are an excellent jumping-off point for a colour scheme or even décor direction. Consider the exquisite, faded Oushak and the mood it conjures, from a sun-drenched riad to a drawing room straight out of Agatha Christie. Similarly, the colour combinations achieved in these masterpieces are second only to nature for sheer brilliance and inspiration.
The great thing about rugs is that they can be dominant or recessive but always pull a room together no matter what their character. I once had a gorgeous Ted Godwin landscape to work around in a client’s living room—and it was made clear that nothing could steal the thunder of this exquisite piece. Fortunately, after trying several options we found a painterly 9 by 12 wool-and-silk number that literally pulled the eye straight up to the painting, much the way a theatre aisle leads to the stage.
Sometimes, though, are rugs are truly meant to ground a space and not do as much ‘heavy lifting’. I love Pottery Barn’s Heathered Chenille Jute model for that very reason; it imparts a casual, beachy vibe while grounding a space in a very neutral way. Better still, unlike many natural fibre rugs that can feel prickly or unpleasant, the chenille content in this model makes it quite soft and comfortable underfoot.
Although it should go without saying, an area rug needs to cover a lot of area, something which, sadly, many don’t execute correctly. Within a room, all furniture (or at least the front legs of the pieces that don’t fit) must sit directly on the rug. End of. A good rule of thumb is that the perimeter of exposed flooring should be somewhere between 9 and 24 inches wide. If you find the dimensions of a lovely specimen lacking, consider layering it over a larger, more neutral rug, such as the aforementioned Pottery Barn offering.
Oftentimes clients say they want to show off their hardwood floors—but given that these generally run throughout most of the rest of the home, having the hardwoods serve as the frame of an exceptional work of art in either the living or dining room is not a huge sacrifice. Besides, when you consider that a good rug will set you back more than every stick of hardwood (and the labour it took to install it), isn’t it worth showcasing it at its best?
On that note—and in closing—I just want to say a word about glass coffee tables. Although they are indeed a great choice for showing off more of the rug, this is not a concept cast in stone. If a coffee table (or tables) of another kind better suit your décor then go for it. Good design is about making informed choices, so if a marble marvel or repousée tray on a stand are the bee’s knees in your space then you must follow your heart. May your quest for the perfect rug inspiring and rewarding—but if all else fails, contact me…