Stylish Floors: Decorating With Area Rugs

Give bare floors a quick and easy makeover. Check out these tips and tricks on decorating with area rugs from top designers.
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June 22, 2015

Center Stage

A rug may be considered an accessory, but it can be the foundation of a gorgeous space. Designer Amy Bubier suggests getting the rug first. "Often, rugs are the more limiting piece when it comes to pattern, color and what fits into your budget, so you may want to start with the rug design and move on to the fabrics and paint from there," she says. Designer David Scott says an area rug should be the "soul of your room," and the "color scheme, furniture placement and accessories should all connect back to it."

Family Friendly

Children and pets will certainly bring quick wear and tear to an area rug, so keep this in mind when deciding what colors and particularly what fabric to use. According to designer David Scott, "the number one rule of decorating with area rugs is to purchase the rug with your lifestyle in mind. If you have pets and young kids, be sure to use wool rugs that can clean easily and have some pattern to hide the inevitable signs of life — stains, shedding, hair and spills."

Perfect Sizing

Designer Celia Berliner suggests making the size of the area rug slightly smaller than the area covered by the furniture. It should be "large enough to anchor and support the gathering space, yet it should free enough flooring around for the circulation flow," she says. Designer Jennifer Duneier says the size of the area rug depends on the furniture layout. She prefers the front two legs of the sofas or chairs be placed on the area rug.

Bold Patterns

Be daring and break out of your decorating comfort zone. Designer Andreea Avram Rusu believes a good rug can anchor the entire composition of a room. An area rug "can either bring something unexpected or add a jolt of color," she says. "Don't be afraid to use a bold color or rich pattern." Against white walls, floors and chairs, this zebra-inspired rug adds a shock of color and becomes the room's focal point.

Colorful Additions

Neutral walls and furnishings allow a bold rug to take center stage. "It is a nice way to add color to a room if you don't want to commit to a strong color on the furnishings or window treatments," designer Jennifer Duneier says. "It warms up the room and can define different spaces within a larger room." The sitting area is separated by an extra-colorful area rug in this spacious playroom.

All Shapes and Sizes

Stuck with a long, narrow living room? Area rugs come in all shapes and sizes, and there's one for every space. Designer Andreea Avram Rusu says that an area rug's shape should depend on the furniture and the shape and size of the room. In dining rooms she suggests using a rectangular rug with a long table, a hexagonal rug with a square table and a round rug with a round table. She uses a rectangular area rug in this living room to mirror the long shape of the space.

Defining Spaces

Don't limit your space to just one rug. In this yoga studio and lounge, designer Andreas Charalambous and FORMA Design used two rugs to define the separate areas in this ultra-large space. Make sure the two rugs complement and coordinate with each other. Designer Celia Berliner says multiple rugs are only OK in large rooms. "If you have a very large room, the placement of rugs will create and define multiple alternative spaces that will punctuate the space and bring harmony and unity to the overall design," she says.

Color Unity

Designer Celia Berliner uses a neutral rug to tone down the vibrant sofa and tables. The subtle red pattern of the rug adds to the modernity of the space and reflects the color scheme. "The area rug can be used as an instrument by bringing unity to the color scheme or by creating the mood and adding character to a space," she says.

Floor Border

When adding an area rug to a room, don't completely cover the floor. "Make sure you leave some of the flooring showing — I usually come in about nine inches from the baseboard if I am making a custom area rug," designer Jennifer Duneier says. To expose the floor underneath the rug and present a border, designer David Scott suggests subtracting up to 12 inches from the baseboards.

Underneath It All

For designer David Scott, the more the merrier. No place is off limits when it comes to using area rugs. "The key is to use a non-skid rug pad underneath to keep them in place," he says. "Size the rug pad two inches smaller than the rug, so it doesn't peek out and will allow the rug ends to lay flat."

Rug Comforts

To designer Amy Bubier, area rugs are crucial especially to one specific area — the living room. "The room that is a focal point in the home, or a room where the most time is spent with family and friends is a great place for an area rug because it adds instant comfort and sound deadening," she says. Design by Lori Dennis

Floor Art

Dining areas and tables provide the perfect space for a unique area rug. Designer Andreas Charalambous and FORMA Design define the table and seating area in this bachelor-pad game room with a modern, custom-made wool and silk area rug. "The sunlight hits the rug at different angles during the day, and the silk portions reflect the light differently making the area rug an ever-changing piece of art on the floor," he says.

Goodbye Cold Feet

Designer Andreea Avram Rusu uses a neutral rug to tone down the colorful bedding and window treatments in this modern bedroom. Andreea likes using area rugs in bedrooms to "accentuate a sense of tranquility." Designer Jennifer Duneier's favorite spot to insert a rug is also under a bed to avoid hopping onto a cold floor.

Inspirational Touch

This home office is bursting with creativity. Designer Celia Berliner suggests adding a fun area rug to a home-office space for an extra punch of inspiration and artistic flow. "If you need a pop of color or a hint of texture, consider adding some under-footing to the space — rugs can add mood, comfort, warmth and character to a room," she says.

Layered Effect

Try a daring new trend — layering rugs. "Layering can be a fun way to bring in multiple colors and textures — they just have to work together and connect with the furniture pieces," designer Amy Bubier says. Make sure the layering effect is visible by allowing the bottom rug to poke out from underneath the top rug. Photo courtesy of Nicole Gibbons

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