Ask just about any interior stylist what pulls a room together, and they’ll often tell you the same answer—a rug. But while it might be the item that can make your space feel like it’s been given new life, the quest to find exactly which one is going to serve you best isn’t actually as simple as it seems. The reality is, rugs have a big impact on how a room looks and feels, can be expensive (if you don’t know where to look), and can be one of those pesky items that takes you years before you feel confident enough to take the final plunge.
Getting it wrong can be as easy as not putting in the research, after all, given the amount of colours, materials, patterns and sizes on the market, the whole ordeal can feel like choosing a needle in a haystack.
To help figure out exactly where to start, we asked Alexandra Tanya, co-founder of Miss Amara, for some advice on picking out the perfect rug—and naturally, there are a few key tips and tricks not to be overlooked when it comes to adding that perfect finish to your home.
Before setting out on deciding exactly which rug style is for you, Tanya says forget the rules and find an aesthetic that makes you truly happy.
“For example, when I picture my dream space I think light, bright and luxe. Luxe textures led me down the wool berber path—we are a no shoes household so I'm all about sinking my toes into that rich texture underfoot.”
As Tanya explains, crafting her dream space was all about bringing in neutral light colours that create an instantly calming feeling, but as we know everyone’s personal styles are different, so she suggests spending time finding spaces that inspire you, ”through Pinterest, holiday destinations and interior blogs”, and pinpointing five rooms that you’re attracted to.
“Take note of textures, styling and tones,” she says. “These days I get a lot of my girlfriends asking me to help style their homes and this is the first exercise I will get them to do before I offer any suggestions or styling rules.”
“Size is equally as important as the style you opt for—when it comes to rugs—size matters!”
Tanya notes that rugs act as the “natural space boundary” to the eyes, and being generous with size will act as a way to make small spaces feel large.
“Take it from someone who lives in the middle of a metropolitan city, in a micro flat,” Tanya says.
As a result, when people come up to our flat, we're always greeted with a, ‘wow your apartment is so big!’”
If you’re looking to make a big impact, you can do that simply with the size of the rug you choose.
“I'm often asked how to make a space feel lighter—and my first recommendation is choose a light toned rug and go oversized, having that texture generously carpet the flooring will immediately lighten and brighten any space in a luxurious way.”
Okay, so you’ve discovered exactly what look and feel you’re looking for when it comes to brightening up your space, so Tanya says the next thing to look out for is the maintenance a particular piece is going to require.
“The other big thing is the properties of the rug and the maintenance it requires,” she explains. “For example, I have a girlfriend who loves the luxe texture and look of a wool rug—but being a particularly fussy virgo—could not stand the way that wool sheds, it literally drove her bananas. Wool is a natural fibre and will need three months to ‘settle’ when the shedding will calm but sadly, the fate of this rug was sealed as she replaced it quick smart with a non shed viscose.”
The next thing not to be overlooked? An underlay. It’s tempting enough to immediately lay down the rug you’ve spent months searching for straight away, but a non-slip pad or underlay underneath is non-negotiable.
“People always forget the underlay, not only will an underlay keep your rug firmly in place (it will not budge!) but it will add another element of squishy texture making your flatweave rug feel weighty and more luxurious. As a bonus it will also extend the life of your rug preventing dust and dirt from soiling the underside.”
“Also an underlay will protect any slipping or warping of heavy furniture pulling your rug keeping it in place,” Tanya adds.
So you’ve laid out your brand new piece and it looks great, but now comes the tricky part of deciphering where exactly your furniture is meant to sit.
“There are only really two main rules to follow and that is everything on top or half on top! Let me clarify—when I say everything I mean all your furniture, so if you have a couch, coffee table, a couple of arm chairs, then the size of your rug should be ample enough so that all furniture sits comfortably on top. If that size is out of your budget then at least the front legs of your sofa and armchairs should be on top.”
As for if styling rules shift from room to room, Tanya says it's down to personal preference.
We entertain a lot, and I don't want to stress about stains in the dining, so that’s where we have the most durable and stain resistant rugs with zero pile and synthetic fibre. My bedroom is my sanctuary, and my adult room just for me (and I suppose my husband too!) so we opted for a lush texture there. The living room for us is much the same, we inhabit this space the most, so we've had a wool berber and haven't looked back since!”
It might seem daunting when thinking of how you’ll care for your rug, but Tanya says there’s “really not a lot to it.”
“Just vacuum lightly and frequently. Two times a week is a minimum and three times for a gold star. When you purchase your rug, please, please do not use one of those super duper spinning vacuum power heads as this will be too much for your rug and pull out the beautiful fibres. If you follow these rules you'll be rewarded with a beautiful rug which will only get better with age—sort of like a great leather handbag!”
Image Credits: Miss Amara