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Nothing can draw the elements of a room together quite like a rug. It can make a cold room cozy and inviting, define different functional spaces, add color and pattern where none existed before, and create comfort where it’s most welcome—underfoot. Whether your style is traditional, contemporary, funky, or ultramodern, you have endless possibilities to consider. If selecting the right rug has you feeling a bit overwhelmed, here are some basic guidelines to help you make the best choice.
A rug needs to be more than pretty—it needs to serve the function of the room and home. Think about your family’s lifestyle and the kind of traffic your rug is likely to endure. “If you’re placing the rug in a high-traffic area, woven rugs will perform best,” advises Jennifer Palmer, a rug specialist from one of Bellacor‘s best rug brands, Mohawk. ”Likewise, if you have pets, you don’t want a looped construction, as dogs’ and cats’ nails tend to snag and pull tufted loops, so a cut-pile construction is the smarter choice.”
Of all rug types, hand-knotted construction is the most expensive, because of the intensive labor involved in the process. But hand-knotted rugs also offer the longest endurance. A good hand-knotted rug can last 10 to 25 years; a great one, over 100. Machine-made rugs, which can be manufactured quickly on power looms, sell for more reasonable prices. They generally have a lifespan of about 20 years, although a high-quality and well-maintained product can last much longer.
Rugs are constructed of either natural or synthetic materials. Natural fibers like wool or silk generally last longer and are better quality but can be costly. You might want to go for wool or silk if it’s important that your rug retain its value. Less costly natural fibers, like jute and cotton, are more affordable. Synthetics are the least expensive and come in an incredible range of colors and styles. Among synthetics, polyester and nylon have the greatest stain and soil resistance, with nylon holding its color best over time.
Size and Shape
Choosing the right size rug is key to making your space feel comfortable. You should use a rug to define the space rather than “float” in a room. And don’t get a rug so large that it touches the baseboards. Consider a range of shapes, and don’t just limit yourself to rectangles. Square rugs complement a modern room, but they look equally good under a pub-style table. Ovals can be used in place of rectangles in a living room, and round and octagonal rugs work well under similarly shaped kitchen or dining tables.
The placement of a rug can make all the difference in the feeling of a room. Use your rug to complement the design of your space and furniture. An area rug should be approximately the same length and width as the furniture in the space. If you’re putting a rug under a coffee table, place it so it can accommodate all four legs. A rug in a dining room should extend to just beyond the chairs when they are pulled away from the table. In a bedroom, multiple smaller rugs may look better than a larger area rug that is mostly covered by the bed, so don’t forget to consider runners. In general, maintain an equal amount of floor space around a rug to give the room a sense of balance.
A rug can be the focal point of a room or help to pull together an eclectic group of design elements. Think about the other details of the room design when selecting a rug. If you already have a busy patterned upholstery or wallpaper, choose a subtle rug, or one in a coordinating solid color, so it won’t compete. Conversely, if your room is more neutral and subdued, you can introduce some vibrancy by choosing a rug with a bold pattern. Overall, select a rug that complements your decor. The colors don’t necessarily need to match, but at least one color should coordinate.
Whatever rug you choose, proper care will ensure its lasting performance and beauty. Use a quality rug pad underneath to both reduce the wear on the rug and protect the floor beneath it. Vacuum it regularly to keep dirt from getting ground into the pile, and clean it when it is soiled. Different materials, construction methods, and fibers require different cleaning methods, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes time to clean your rug. With the proper TLC, an area rug can keep your room cozy and vibrant for years to come. For more information on rug design, selection, care, and maintenance, visit Bellacor.
This article is sponsored by Bellacor. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.