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Here’s How a Rug Can Make or Break Your Room

Don’t dismiss a rug as a last-minute purchase – find the right one and your room can go from drab to fab

Houzz Contributor. I am an editor, journalist, web and copywriter. I was Editor of… More

The floor is one of the biggest surfaces in any room, so surely leaving yours unadorned is a missed opportunity? Placed on top of a plain carpet or scrubbed floorboards, a rug can add colour, pattern, texture and focus. Better still, laying one is effortless and won’t cost a fortune. Here’s how to choose a rug that’s spot-on for your space.

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Use a rug to zone your room
In a dual-purpose space – perhaps a living/dining room – laying a rug at one or both ends will define the different areas, which can make the whole space appear better designed.

Here, the living area is clearly demarcated by the rug on which the seating sits. The same technique would work under a dining table.

Browse rugs in the Houzz shop

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Take a break from sharp lines
A room that’s all angles can look formal and unwelcoming, but you can reverse that impression with a rug in a contrasting, softer shape. It might be a faux hide, like this one, or you could pick a circular or oval design.

Can’t find one that fits? Go rectangular by all means, but choose a rug with a pattern that’s all curves, circles or florals to achieve the softening effect.

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Stretch your space
You can use a rug to visually alter your room’s proportions. Want to make it feel longer? Put down a striped rug like this one, running along the length of the room. Or run the stripes across its width to make it feel deeper.

In a small space, choose a rug in light colours; in a larger room, you can get away with darker or stronger shades.

Check out the bold new living space in this Edwardian home in Harrogate

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Go for multiples
If your bathroom has the floor space, discard the bath mat and replace it with a larger, easy-dry and washable rug, which is likely to suit the room’s proportions much better – and make it feel cosier.

Can’t find one to work with the room’s angles? Two similar smaller ones might be a better fit – and you can double the effect by coordinating (but not matching) them with your towels.

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Colour, from the bottom up
There’s something about an all-white room that’s enticing, but it can also be somewhat bland once you’ve lived with it for a while. So why not add colour and pattern with a large rug? It takes moments to put down, and if you find two you like, you can swap them to suit the season, the occasion, or even your mood.

Think you might want to go back to all white at some point? You can simply stash the rug away until the colour bug bites again.

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Link two rooms
The best-decorated homes have consistent style throughout, with room schemes that may not match, but do complement each other.

This can be achieved through wall colours and furnishing materials, but one of the most successful ways to connect your spaces is with flooring – in this case rugs – that work together to create a cohesive whole.

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Add a comfort layer
Unless you have the excuse of living in a hot climate, no bedroom is complete without something soft to step on to when you get out of bed.

Without these faux sheepskins, this bedroom would look tastefully neutral but, because of the hard flooring and natural colour scheme, a little austere. The tactile rugs surrounding the bed focus the attention and are luxuriously inviting to boot.

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Unite a colour scheme
A central rug can be useful for pulling together a whole room scheme. Here, the main part of the rug is a similar colour to the ottoman and walls, while the border matches the armchair.

The rug’s size is key here, too: it should be big enough that your main pieces of furniture, such as the sofas, either sit on it or are very close to it. Too small, and the uniting effect will be lost.

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Connect open-plan areas
To give a busy, open-plan room cohesion, the trick is to define the different areas while creating a visual connection. You can do this with colour and pattern in a rug.

Here, the edge of the rug separates the living space from the kitchen area. At the same time, the black and white design picks up on the colour scheme in the kitchen to conjure up a neat visual link.

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Add texture and interest
Any room devoid of pattern, a great view or wonderful architectural features will be especially at risk of being characterless. You can remedy this with texture – and a rug is a great way to add it.

Keep a really deep pile for bedrooms – or at least far from pets and food; choose a mid pile for low-traffic areas where it won’t get too flattened, and opt for a flatweave design for busy spaces that endure more footfall.

How and where have you used rugs in your home – and do you have tips (or photos) to share? Please do so in the Comments section.

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