Rugs are adornment, accent, art. Fashion and function. They create frame and foreground, pulling a room together, defining the area where activity takes place, anchoring the feet of our furniture and cushioning the feet of our bodies. We sink our toes in, brush our soles across them.

These days, because of computer technology, any design one can come up with, colors and shapes, can be put into a rug, creating a cool modern look. Then there are the humble nomad rugs that feel perfect for the global-chic client. We are seeing a lot of this look lately, which has a bohemian vibe, these are the Turkish rugs, the Flokatis — sheepskin rugs in natural shapes, or rectangles, where the wool is only minimally processed from its original state.

Two of the fastest ways to refresh a home without redoing the entire interior are paint colors and area rugs; something to think about as the holidays are approaching, if you are feeling like your space needs a lift before your next big party. Especially worth examining is the carpet runner on your stairs; replacing that can make it feel like you have a whole new house.


Layered In Tahoe: The living room of this vacation home in Lake Tahoe (furnishings discussed in the previous post) is dressed with layered rugs. The base is a wool broadloom which we had custom cut to size and bound, topped by a vintage Danish Modern rug, also wool, sourced at Tony Kitz Gallery in San Francisco. (Photo by Eric Rorer)

Like choosing art for a room (a topic I covered in a previous post), a rug can be the first piece that you select when developing a plan for redesigning a whole room, with everything else (colors, textures, vibe) coming together around it, or it can come later, as the final piece that cinches a look. If you find a rug that you absolutely love, something that is strong in color and pattern, you might find neutral-toned furnishings are the best choice to fill in around it.

Pro tip: Layering rugs

You can try this at home: Start with a larger rug underneath in a neutral tone. Jute or sisal are nice materials to work with. I like jute because it is soft and flat, and feels good under the foot. Sisal has a rougher texture but has the added benefit of being sturdy and more durable. Place a smaller rug on top in a bright color and pattern, sized so that you have a nice frame around it. A current trend is to place a cowhide as the top layer, at an angle.

Why layering? Like when you dress, adding a scarf, jacket, lipstick, the right shoes… layers can provide a more put-together feeling in a room, and also can connote coziness (depending on the materials). The key is calculated restraint; we want neither to feel monk-like and boring nor overly cluttered.

wool over jute

A more formal layered look: textured wool from Stark laid atop jute by Fibreworks , in a modern living room

A note about size: When rugs are too small, we can feel it. A catch in your breath, a sense of feeling squeezed. Our bodies sense the imbalance. There are basic guidelines you can follow, including templates you can research on Pinterest, and then again, sometimes rules are made to be broken; every room has its own balance point, determined by the square footage and the objects in the space.

If you have questions about the right size of a rug for your space and furnishings or would like to schedule a consult for giving yourself a full-home rug-uplift for the holidays, give us a call.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Piedmont Post

Learn more about rugs and how to use them in interior design, in our companion blog article, here[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]