small rug

Photo: Zeke Ruelas

Don't Make the Same Mistake I Did

You guys, confession time. We all make mistakes and I have totally made mega millions of them. Take this living room above, for example. The rug I originally sourced for it was way too small. For some reason I tried to squash the whole sofa onto the rug. Correct solutions here would have been to reorient the rug so that only the front legs of the sofa were on it or get a bigger rug. After this photo was taken, this rug was replaced with a larger rug the whole sofa could fit onto. And all was back to better! People think rugs are accents, but they're vital to making your space feel like a comfortable interior and not a cave.
large rectangular rug

Photo: Zeke Ruelas

Size Matters

Here are a few rules I like to follow for rugs:

  1. 1. In a living room, the rugs should be big enough for the front legs of the sofa to sit fully on it. Bonus if the entire sofa fits on the rug. Double bonus if all the furniture fits on the rug.

  2. 2. If a space is carpeted, make sure to select a rug that is a different texture/color than the carpet you are laying the rug over. For example, a flat woven kilim rug usually works over a medium-pile carpet. Don't do a medium-pile rug over a medium-pile carpet. Just like it's important to celebrate diversity in everyday life, the same is true for rugs—the more distinct the better!

  3. 3. When considering a rug's color, think about what its function in the room is. Is it there to be the pop of color? If so, go for a saturated hue. If you have a lot of other color going on in the room, maybe prevent it from looking like a 3-ring circus by choosing a more muted rug.

  4. 4. Hallways love rugs. A runner is a hallway's best friend.

  5. 5. Kitchens also love rugs. Vintage rugs make especially good kitchen rugs because no one will be able to tell when you spill grandma's spaghetti sauce over it.

  6. 6. Get your rugs cleaned once every year or two. Most cities have drapery/rug cleaning shops. If your city doesn't, get on your hands and knees and scrub.

  7. 7. Choose the right shape for the right room. Most rooms are rectangles, so they want rectangular rugs. But sometimes a round rug makes more sense to add a little bit of movement.
three rug composite

Photo: Zeke Ruelas

Wrong, Wrong, Right

These three rugs show two bad options and one good one. The round rug is cute, but the wrong shape. Round rugs are generally best for pass-throughs and square rooms where a rectangular rug would look awkward. The small rectangular rug is too small for the space, will feel dwarfed by the furniture, and will be almost completely covered by the coffee table. The final rug (at the far right) is the right size and proportion for the room because it covers a large portion of the space while leaving some breathing room around the edges. There's no hard, fast rule on how much space you should leave around a rug, but I like to make sure there's at least 12 inches on all sides. Additionally, it's important to make sure furniture pieces like dressers and media consoles are on the wood floor, not layered over the rug so make sure to take that into account when determining a rug size.
blue rug

Photo: Zeke Ruelas

Bonus Tips

Be intentional. Make sure your furniture intersects with your rug in a way that looks like you did it on purpose. This means either overlapping the front of your furniture on top of the rug or making sure there is space in front of your furniture for some breathing room around the rug.

Don't be scared of color. If the room is lacking pigment, your rug could be the perfect place to add a splash of color. Adding accessories and art that complement the rug color is the perfect way to tie it in to the room's palette.

Courtesy of Prestel Publishing

From Get It Together by Orlando Soria. Copyright © 2018 by Orlando Soria. Excerpted with permission by Prestel.