When it comes to decorating your home, furniture is always top of mind. Paint colors and décor ideas, like gallery walls, are a close second. But one thing that can transform your whole space is a rug.
"Rugs really help anchor a space and group things together," said Becky Grinwald, an interior designer at Peabody's Interiors in Brown Deer, Wis. With open-concept layouts so popular now, she said, it's hard to create individual spaces if you have one large great room that includes your living room, dining room and kitchen.
"Rugs add a sense of coziness, texture and warmth. It makes your space more inviting," Grinwald says. This is especially relevant given how popular hardwood floors have become.
Other reasons to buy a rug? They protect your flooring, cover any imperfections in your flooring and help muffle sound.
As for where to put rugs, you can say the floor is the limit.
Although living rooms and bedrooms are a given, rugs can work beautifully in dining rooms to anchor a table and chairs. Circular rugs are perfect for a foyer or entryway. Even kitchens can benefit from a bit of rug magic.
"Wood cabinets with wood floors is too much," said Jessica Forston, owner of Fringe Interior Design in Whitefish Bay, Wis. "A runner is great for a kitchen because it breaks up the materials. Something like an indoor/outdoor rug is perfect because it holds up well in a high-traffic area, and it's easy to clean."
Although a rug on hardwood flooring is a match made in designer heaven, you should also think about rugs for your carpeted rooms. Layering a rug over carpeting can be visually interesting if the textures are done right, explains Forston. The important thing to remember is to maintain contrast. You want the rug to feel and look different from your carpet — which can be achieved easily because there are so many materials to choose from.
For the adventurous, layering rugs is also an option. Fringe Interior Design has many examples of this in their showroom. You can place one rug on an angle while the other has a more traditional placement. Just make sure to use patterns and colors that complement one another. At Fringe, Forston pointed out an animal hide rug over a chevron rug that looked modern and fresh.
Style and size matter
When you're redecorating a space from scratch, buying a rug first is smart because you can build off the colors into every aspect of the room. But if you're inspired by a piece of art, for example, that informs the rest of your room, buying a rug last can tie all your existing colors together.
"From a style perspective, customers really want something contemporary," Forston said. "Muted rugs with tribal or ikat patterns are really popular."
As for color trends, rugs are following suit with paint colors — it's all about gray, said Teri Hayden-Kalis, an accessories buyer at Steinhafels.
"Light gray and charcoal colors are extremely popular right now," she said. "And blues have started to come on really strong, too, whether it's navy, medium blue or baby blue.
"If you start with a color and style, then you can decide on materials and how big the rug should be," she said.
At Steinhafels, customers who special order have more than 2,000 rug options to choose from, depending on what color, style, material and size they need with prices that range from $99 to $2,000.
When choosing a rug, one of the biggest mistakes people make is picking the wrong size. Often, people pick rugs that are too small for their space.
"If the rug isn't connecting any of the pieces (of furniture), it's probably the wrong size," Grinwald said. "For example, a 5-foot, 8-inch rug in a 12-by-14-foot room will look disconnected because it doesn't touch anything. Scale is very important."
Although all your furniture doesn't need to sit completely on a rug, it's helpful if the furniture is at least partially sitting on it.
Although it's less common, your rug also can be too large for your room. A good rule is that you should at least see a 12- to 18-inch border of flooring around the room.
Types of rugs
What determines the price of a rug is the material. Wool is the standard, and can either be Indian wool (which is shorter, dryer and less expensive) or New Zealand wool (which is longer, softer and more expensive).
At Fringe Interior Design, Forston said an 8-by-10-foot rug made out of Indian wool will range from $500 to $2,000, and a New Zealand wool rug will range from $2,000 to $5,000.
Something like a machine-made polyester or nylon rug is great for busy families because you can spot-clean it easily. It's also cheaper at $200 to $1,500 for an 8-by-10-foot rug. Another option is an indoor/outdoor rug, otherwise known as a polypropylene rug. This is a great option for kitchens or indoor patios; it will run anywhere from $200 to $1,200.
Other popular varieties are hand-knotted, hand-tufted and hand-hooked rugs. Hand-knotted is created when a person takes a piece of fiber or yarn and knots every single piece, providing tons of beautiful detailing. These rugs can last many years and they take a long time to make.
A hand-tufted rug is made without tying individual knots (they're made with a tool called a tufting gun). It takes a fraction of time to make this vs. a hand-knotted rug, which makes tufting a much cheaper option.
A hand-hooked rug has a sprayed acrylic backing (almost like a little square grid), and the maker will hook each piece of fiber in the backing.
Other options include animal hides, leathers, sisal, bamboo, silk and silk blends.
Maintaining your investment
With the proper care, certain rugs can last decades (something like a hand-knotted Persian or oriental rug lasts generations, but they can also cost $25,000 or more).
Step one is buying a rug pad. This protects not only the backing of the rug, but your floors as well (they also provide some nice cushioning). These pads, typically made of felt, also keep the rug even and prevent slipping. When a rug is being placed on carpet, it's still worth it to invest in a pad.
One thing that Forston warns clients of is using those waffley (usually beige) rug grips that you can cut to size.
Although they're much cheaper, they can waffle hardwood floors. Not using a rug pad at all can also waffle or scratch floors — not to mention wear out the rug. Rug pads are a little harder to find but worth the search.
The best method for cleaning your rug depends on how the rug is made, so contact the manufacturer or talk to the store associate or interior designer from wherever you purchased the rug.
When vacuuming your rug, use the wood setting or an attachment. Using a vacuum with a beater bar on a regular setting can wear holes in your rug. Also, if there are loose fibers on your rug, you can snip or pull them off without doing any damage to the rug.