A fabulous rug can be the making of a room. “Rug can be the hero of your living space, making it feel comfortable, defined and complete,” says Melissa Bonney, director at interior design firm The Designory. “Rugs and area rugs perform many practical functions too“, adds Sally Pottharst, co-founder of Armadillo&Co. “A rug absorbs sound and softens hard surfaces such as floorboards and tiles, as well as defines zones in an open-plan space.” The latest trends range from bold and graphic to soft and painterly, with just about everything in between. “We’re seeing a return to decorative florals, as well as ethnic and tribal carpets and worn, vintage rugs in muted tones,” says Bob Cadry, director at Cadrys. Meanwhile, for Lia Pielli, senior designer at Designer Rugs, abstract geometrics with a hand-drawn feel and large-scale botanicals are the styles to watch in 2019. “We’re also noticing a move away from rectangular rugs towards round and organic shapes,” she says. The look and feel of a rug come down to what it’s made from and how it’s made, says Cadry. Most rugs are made from wool or a wool blend, viscose (high-quality versions are called ‘art silk’), PET polyester yarn, which is made from recycled plastic bottle tops, or a natural fiber such as jute. For a more luxurious look, choose a style made with cashmere, alpaca or pashmina.
When buying a woolen rug or an area rug, be aware that not all varieties are equal in quality, says Rebecca Somerville, general manager at Hali Handmade Rugs. “Wool comes in different grades, which affects how well a rug wears, fluffs and resists stains. Higher-quality wool has a sheen, is super soft, hardly fluffs and is highly stain-resistant, while lower-quality wool is the opposite,” she says. Synthetic rugs generally cost less than wool, but won’t perform long-term. “The pile isn’t thick and the luster doesn’t last. The lifespan of a hand-knotted wool rug is 30-50 years. A machine-made synthetic rug will last 10 years, but look worn after two,” she says. A cut-pile rug has a plush feel you can sink your toes into; a flatwoven rug (such as a kilim) has a slightly rustic look; a loop-pile style has a textured appearance. Hand-knotted rugs are extremely labor- intensive to make, with skilled artisans taking up to six months to complete a single piece and thus often come with a hefty price tag. “You get what you pay for,” says Somerville. “A machine-made wool rug is less expensive, but the detail and feel will be far inferior to a hand-knotted rug.” When choosing a rug, consider the space it’s going into. “A tighter weave will stand up to wear and tear better, so think a jute runner or low-pile wool and cotton rug high-traffic areas such as hallways,” says Bonney. “For luxury in a bedroom, consider a textured cut-pile wool rug or anything in art silk or bamboo. In a relaxed, coastal home, a rug in earthy sisal or jute is ideal.” Also, decide whether you want your rug to make a bold statement or blend in with your room scheme. If it’s the latter, Bonney suggests choosing a style that picks up on the colors of a surrounding artwork or fabric.
Size is another important consideration. “A rug that is too small can get lost in a space, while one that’s too large can overwhelm it,” says Pielli. “And if you can’t find the right-size rug, see if you can have your preferred design customized,” suggests Pottharst. Before you fall head over heels for a rug, there are some key questions to ask your sales consultant. “Find out what it’s made from, where it’s made, how to clean and maintain it, and if it’s been ethically produced,” says Somerville. Then it’s time for the touch test. “The best way to assess softness is to feel the pile-ideally with your toes.”
Melissa Bonney, director at interior design firm The Designory, reveals how to size your rug right:
+A small room
A rug that covers most of the floor will work best in a compact room. Leave a gap of 20-30cm between the rug and walls as a border.
+ In a sitting area
Choosing a rug that’s large enough for all your furniture to sit on will make the room feel more expansive. If your rug (or budget) doesn’t stretch that far, just put the front sofa legs and chairs on the rug to anchor the space.
+ Under a dining table
The rug should be wide enough so that dining chairs sit comfortably on it when guests are seated —this usually means an extra 60-80cm on all sides of the table.
+In the bedroom
You want comfort underfoot in a bedroom, so the bigger the rug, the better.