This post first appeared a couple of years ago but it’s still a question I am asked all the time so I thought I would go over the guidelines again and also show you some of the new rugs around this season for those who don’t need the information but might just fancy a new look.
The first thing to note is that for every one person who says there is a rule, another will want to break it. For every one person who tells you to do it this way, another will disagree. So let me say, these are my rules, you may disagree (at your peril mwahahaha) but at least you can feel free to experiment.
The thing about breaking rules is you have to know how to do it or it can just be a mess, so start off with these guidelines and if you feel that in your house, with your furniture, things work differently, then by all means play around. And that, by the way, applies to all rules. Once you know what it’s supposed to be you can work out how to get around that in a way that works for you which is helpful if you don’t feel that you instinctively know what looks right. Which many people don’t.
First up then, this is my personal number one. Buy the biggest rug you can afford. It doesn’t have to go all the way to the edge of the room – try leaving 18ins spare if that is you like so that you get the comfort and warmth of something like carpet but crucially that isn’t – but aim to either have all the furniture on it, or at the very least, all the front legs. Adapting that rule? Front legs of the sofa, chairs freestanding. What you want to avoid is a rug island in the middle of the room with all the furniture standing respectfully round the edge of it.
To start with your visitors will feel that if the furniture isn’t allowed on the rug then nor are they, which isn’t a relaxing position from which to welcome your guests. Secondly, the room looks disjointed. A large rug brings everything together and creates a unified space. There is an exception to this rule (my rule) at the end… do you want me to pause while you all skip down there and come back? Go on then…..
And, if you read last week’s post about how to zone an open plan space you will also know how useful a large rug is for that too.
Right, rule two. To the bedroom with you. If you have a large rug in the bedroom it needs to pretty much go under the whole bed. You can keep the bedside tables off it if you like but don’t (please) do that thing where you have a bit of rug the same width as the bed sticking out of the end. It looks rubbish. It looks, basically, as if you couldn’t afford to buy a rug big enough for the room. And, if that was the case, and you couldn’t, then put that rug somewhere else.
Or use it for rule three. A bedside rug can float. You can have one either side. These work particularly well if they’re odd shapes. I used to use the boys’ old sheepskins that they had in their prams by the sides of our bed.
Leaving the bedroom and into the kitchen (or dining room), you can absolutely have a rug under the table but it must be large enough that the chairs can be pulled out and remain on the rug. Otherwise people trip, or they pull their chair in and rug gets caught up in an in a curls up. And people trip. Again, if your rug ain’t that big – put it somewhere else.
And finally – that exception: if it’s an odd-shaped rug it can float like an island. This is because it can lie at a jaunty angle which, therefore, looks like you meant it. A small rectangle rug in the middle looks like you ran out of money and no you can’t put it at a jaunty angle. You can find rugs that are unusually shaped so if that is the look you want then buy one of those. There’s one below from Habitat which is pictured on the wall but it doesn’t need to be.
Now, for those of you that are left with about four small rugs that you can’t use anywhere – there is a solution. As long as they aren’t too deep then layer. I have four rugs in my sitting room for that very reason. They don’t have to be the same pattern but the colours should tone. Or they can be the same design in different colours. Experiment. But, be aware, you are getting into rule-breaking territory so you need to be confident enough to trust your judgement here.
It’s like wearing a really outrageous outfit to a party – if you feel good in it you will look good. If you feel nervous people can tell. The same with interior design. The basic, most important rule of them all? IT HAS TO LOOK LIKE YOU MEANT IT.
Yes, I’m shouting. If there is even a hint of panic about what you have done it will show.