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Art you don’t hang on the wall! How to find the right area rug.

December 15th, 2010 1 Comment

— Ashleigh Underwood, Your Interior Designer.

MR Note:  When I moved into my apartment, rug shopping was hands down the most frustrating part of designing the space.  Area rugs define the room and are soooo expensive.  I couldn’t take the plung in an online store because I could only imagine the hassle in returning it.  Ashleigh has great options here to consider when you’re ready to decorate.

Area rugs are art on the floor.  They will make or break your room.  As most good designers practice, I choose one as the color and design inspiration for my clients spaces.  But because of price, material, style, color and availability, few decor decisions are as daunting as selecting an area rug for your space.


Although they come in a huge array of styles and materials, you should know that most worth purchasing are fairly expensive.  I always recommend wool to clients as it is the most common and surprisingly easy to clean.  The price is determined by the type of wool used (and of course the brand), but I know that sinking some cash into a beautiful rug is one of the best monetary outlays in any design scheme.


Synthetic fiber rugs can be fantastic to look at and in certain situations are ultimately the best choice for high traffic areas like the kitchen or hallway. (I have an area rug in my breakfast nook in my kitchen!)

Silk is outrageously beautiful and expensive so I recommend you use one in an extraordinarily special place like the living room or master bedroom.  Just not in a place where it is likely to get damaged.

Cotton rugs, as far as I am concerned, are a big no no.  They don’t wear well and are very absorbent which can lead to issues like mold. Plus they soak up stains like it is their job.  Luckily they are inexpensive so you could replace them fairly often or if they are small enough, throw ’em in the wash!

Here are a few of my all time favorites.

Paul Smith’s Iconic Swirl Rug for The Rug Company is hand made of Tibetan wool and is sure to be a family heirloom in years to come.  It would work just about anywhere in a Modern, Contemporary or Transitional design.

Thakoon’s design for Elson & Company is also made in Tibet of its finest wool and ten percent of the sale from each carpet sold will benefit the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Fashion Targets Breast Cancer initiative.  I love this rug for it’s artistic sensibility and slightly wild child attitude.

Like everything Diane von Furstenberg does, the Climbing Leopard is class and elegance itself.  Made of Wild Spun Silk, its luster and brilliance can only be seen in person.  This is an amazing piece because it could be easily used in a Traditional design as well as a purely Modern one.  I love that The Rug Company has brought together the artistry of design with that of manufacturing to create this most unique of rugs.

As I sit in my office writing this blog, the Safari Rug from West Elm is keeping my tootsies warm.  I get so many complements on this rug and I giggle inside because I know how inexpensive it was.  The color of the Zebra stripes varies from light purple to heather gray depending on the light and time of day.  A little animal print goes a long way but in this case, it is just the right amount!

I just discovered this rug from Elson & Company and fell in loce.  Two days later I spotted it in my favorite online magazine, Lonny.  Designed by Cynthia Rowley, I think that it would be satisfying to men and women alike and the greyed out colors would make it a prize piece in any room that you want to feel really relaxed.

I was disappointed to see that Design Within Reach was not carrying this rug anymore but luckily it is still available directly from it’s inspired designer, Angela Adams.  It comes in several different colorways but I find this one the most pleasing.  I just want to drift away on the froth and foam and find myself on some wild island in the Caribbean.

I have not had a nursery to work on recently but as soon as I do, I am desperate to use this magical and whimsical rug.  At 60″ round it would fit just about anywhere and the unique wool crewel work creates textural interest as well as the vibrant colors.  I have found the rugs from Anthropoligie to be of high quality and fantastic design.

Also found at Anthropologie, this Fireworks rug comes in several different sizes, including a pretty fantastic runner.  The exuberance of this rug just crys out for a dynamic and bold person to use it in their eclectic space.

Often hallways are overlooked as spaces to create a design statement, but I think  they can be little jewel boxes to really show your personality.  Rather than lead you straight down the hall, the twitsts and turns of the Anni Albers Rug could lead the visitor to take some time and check out your amazing collection of….family photos, framed antique stamps, shadow boxes filled with little trinkets you have collected on your travels.

Whatever you choose, let your area rug be an extension of your personality, laid out there for all to adore just as much as they do you.

  • Heidi Praxton

    “Plung?” Mary, seriously, hire an editor or someone else to proofread your work. Stop blaming spell check. How can you not continue to be incredibly embarrassed by your spelling, grammar and usage mistakes?