Bare wooden floors are undeniably charming, but the perfect area rug takes them up a notch. Rugs are the accessories of the floor, the pops of personality that make a room your own and help ground a space. “Every room looks better with a rug,” says Barbara Ostrom, president and CEO of Barbara Ostrom Associates in Mahwah. “We have done painted floors, tile floors, color-stained floors, but people love the feeling of a rug underfoot.”
Here the award-winning designer shares her tips for choosing, placing and caring for your rugs for just about every room in the home.
How To… Choose A Rug
The material of the rug you purchase should depend on the room it’s going on, our expert believes. Wool is always preferred for living areas. “It is easy to clean, and the natural twist of the fiber will always prevent the rug from flattening out,” Ostrom says. Nylon is second choice and a more budget-friendly option, especially a loop-pile nylon because it can be vacuumed or cleaned with soap and water. Low-pile or even washable rugs are best for high-traffic areas such as kitchens, hallways and playrooms because they’re practical and easiest to clean.
If you’re not sure what style to buy, you can find a rug you love and build your room around it, or vice versa. “We often start with a patterned rug and pull the color scheme from it and match it to upholstery,” says our designer. “If it looks good in your hand [as a sample], it’ll look sensational in a rug.” Bonus: patterned rugs such as those with Oriental designs hide spills and wear and tear better than their solid counterparts, so keep that in mind when making your selections.
How To… Place A Rug
A too-small rug looks awkward in a room, so when in doubt, go bigger rather than smaller. Ostrom’s rules of thumb for each room? Dining rooms should have about 30 inches from the edge of the table to the walls (and all furniture should fit atop the rug, even when chairs are pulled out).
Bedroom rugs should be large, with a maximum of 18 inches of bare floor from the wall to the edge of the rug, because you want something soft to walk on when you get out of bed. A living-room rug should be placed so that at least the front legs of a sofa are on it. Also, she suggests leaving about three inches on each side of the stairs when selecting a stair runner.
How To… Care For A Rug
You’ll need some sort of rug pad to protect both the floors and the rug, but it need not be anything fancy. “Use a thin rubber pad under any area rug, or a thicker pad for wall-to-wall carpeting to keep it lush and soft,” Ostrom advises.
As far as cleaning goes, she suggests spot-cleaning as needed, and sending your rugs to a rug cleaner once a year to freshen them up.
Photos courtesy of Phillip Ennis