Sarah Smith’s new loft condominium has everything the 33-year-old Houston designer wanted: high ceilings, walls of natural light, great views, sweeping open spaces and unlimited possibilities for her collection of area rugs. “In this space, area rugs work like walls,” Smith says. “They define living and activity areas and they put an exclamation point on any aesthetic statement I’m trying to make.”
Natural Design and Comfort
As both a design element and a source of comfort, few items can match area rugs in creating an exciting, inviting room. They can bring texture and pattern into any space; introduce color schemes; soften the surface of any hardwood floor; and unify or separate other furnishings in the room. “Area rugs work to pull things together, and to set them apart,” Smith said. “They can be the painting, or they can be the frame.”
Smith’s love of area rugs began with a beautiful, jewel-toned Oriental rug that her grandmother gave her when she moved into her first apartment. “Everything related to it, and the simple, casual pieces I chose emphasized the intricate formality of the rug—it held everything together.” That rug has served her well; it now defines the dining area of her new loft.
Holding design items together is not the only advantage to decorating with area rugs. They can also set apart special pieces, or draw attention away from less appealing aspects of the room. An antique Victorian hall tree looked misplaced in the entry of Smith’s open loft, until she placed a simple sisal area rug under it. “With the addition of that rug, I not only had a defined entry area, I had a ‘frame’ for one of my favorite pieces.”
The natural inclination is to match the style of the area rug with the architecture and furnishings of a room, where the area rug extends the design theme and unifies the floor covering with the rest of the room, like a hand-hooked area rug on a stone hearth, a beautifully fashioned antique rug on glossy hardwoods, or a brightly patterned modern rug on tile or concrete floor.
Inversely, area rugs can be effective room design counterpoints. A traditional rug will underscore the clean lines of contemporary furnishings, just as a simple modern rug will draw attention to classic furnishings. “There should be one focal point in any room or grouping of furnishings,” Smith explained. “An area rug can either be that focal point, or it can emphasize whatever is the centerpiece in the room.”
The design benefits of area rugs are practical benefits as well.
- Area rugs can hide flaws in a room, like stained or damaged flooring.
- They also prevent wear in heavy traffic areas, provide buffers for sound and provide insulation.
- With proper placement and a good area rug pad, a good area rug can do everything a good carpet can do and then some.
Furthermore, the range of prices in area rugs allows for greater versatility in creating a room design. Smith explained, “Area rugs can be the most expensive piece in your plan, or you can find very attractive and serviceable area rugs for very little money.” She even suggests using area rugs as changeable accessories. “I switch the rugs with changes in the season or in my mood—or when I find one that is just too beautiful to resist.”
The Final Scheme
So what are the keys to a successful decorating scheme? According to Smith, a decorating plan can be as complex or as streamlined as the tastes of the owner and the use of the room. Knowing the look you want is essential, and good planning is key. And rooms that “blend” elements rather than match them are more successful. But Smith believes the basic elements in a successful decorating scheme are simple—attention to proportions, unobtrusive lighting, comfortable color and area rugs!
“I can’t think of anything that supports good design as effectively as an area rug. It can hide flaws, make the best look better and be a beautiful centerpiece in its own right.” And as the committed collector of area rugs that she is, Smith added with a smile, “And there is always room for one more.”
Interested in updating your home with area rugs? Call today to speak to a Flooring America representative to learn about our extensive selection of unique and stylish rugs!