Areas rugs are a key component of a well-designed room. They must be the right size to anchor the room's furnishings and the right style to complement the room's decor. Plus they must be tough enough to withstand lots of abuse and still look lovely. If you're on a quest for a new rug, here are some tips on how to pick a rug you'll love. Mary Carol Garrity, Scripps Howard News Service
• Don't purchase an area rug just because it has the right colors for your room or is the right size. Hold out for a rug that captivates you and complements the room.
• Look for high-quality wool with a harder, thinner weave that doesn't easily crush or show wear.
• You'll need to pick how the edges of your new rug will be finished: serged or bound in cotton tape. I'm a fan of cotton tape, but picking the right color can be tricky. Light-colored tapes are so versatile you can move them from room to room. However, they will show dirt more readily. Dark-colored tape hides dirt, but when you pick a distinct color, you limit your design options.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to purchase a rug that is too small for the space. An incorrectly sized rug can throw off the look of the room, even if the furnishings are fabulous.
To determine what size you'll need, decide where your furnishings will be placed. If the furniture will rim the room, your rug should measure a foot or two smaller than the room. If your furniture will float in the center of the room, the rug should be large enough for the front legs of your furniture to rest upon it.
In your dining room, add 18 inches to each side of the table to accommodate your chairs.
Consider natural-fiber rugs. They look great with just about any decorating style. Their subtle texture and subdued color work with any color scheme. They wear like iron. And they are affordable. Here's a look at some popular types:
Sisal is made from the same cactus plant used to make tequila. The pulp is spun into ropes, which are then woven into mats. With its clean, bright appearance, sisal is a great choice for a transitional or contemporary feel.
Seagrass rugs are made from a reed that grows in marshy areas. As a result, the grass has a natural coating that allows it to more easily repel moisture.
Dragongrass is seagrass that's grown in more arid soil, giving it a slightly darker color. Often, dragongrass rugs are available in a wider variety of patterns, some of which have a more refined appearance, making them a better pick for formal rooms.
Coir rugs are made from coconut husks and are the roughest of the vegetable-fiber rugs. It's best to use them for walk-off mats by your door or on a screened porch.
You can also find rugs made of hemp, jute, bamboo and even woven paper.