By Tyler Wisler
If there is one thing I love to use in my designs, it is a rug. Truthfully? It’s normally plural. RUGS!
Rugs are so important in any well-designed space. This textural delight woven in wool, cotton, silk or a multitude of other materials can add color, pattern, depth, definition and even acoustical control to any room with its mere presence.
Rugs help us delineate spaces without physical barriers. Many of us live in open concept floor plans where the entry foyer spills into living room, which is also the dining room transitioning into the kitchen. Once you place a rug down, though, you have clearly defined that zone.
Laying down a rug also helps with what I call ‘floating furniture’. When furniture is just existing in a space without a rug to help anchor the grouping, it is essentially just floating around.
Here in Singapore, two of the most common flooring materials for the main living areas is tile or stone. This is not only very cold and sterile looking, but also a highly reflective surface in terms of sound. With the use of a rug you dampen the ability for sound to bounce around a room, keeping your space from sounding like a catering hall.
Size and Shape
Many times, people get caught up in what the proper size of a rug is. Well, first thing is the size of your room. A rug should never be closer than 12 inches to a wall. It should never appear to be kissing the baseboard. That is not to say that this is the only thing to think about.
In a living room setting, your sofa is usually the widest piece of furniture, so it will typically sit on the long side of the rug. For example, if your sofa is 7 feet, then an 8 x 10 feet rug will be the minimum size to consider. This gives you 18” of breathing room on either side to give you the space for small end tables or a floor lamp. This is the minimum, but you could easily enlarge this to a 9 x 12 feet as long as your area can handle it.
Again, I’m speaking in standard sizing, but there are reasons for using square, circular, or even organic shapes. Sometimes choosing something more organic, such as a cowhide, can help break up rectilinear lines and soften the aesthetic of a room.
Now, furniture. Is it sitting on the rug? Off the rug? Are the front feet on it? What’s the story? I generally say that the large pieces, i.e. your sofa and your larger lounge chairs should have their front feet on the rug, in about 6-10 inches from the edge. Those wonderful accent pieces, like that gorgeous Chinese horseshoe chair rounding out a conversation space can sit completely on or off the rug.
Color & Pattern
This is completely subjective, but you should consider where you want your ‘wow factor’ to be in your room. If you want your lighting to be the most eye-catching piece, then keep your rugs subtle. Use something that celebrates texture over pattern. Keep colors neutral and I would say err on the side of darker, since darker colors tend to recede.
But, if all pieces in your room are simple and you want to make a statement, working from the ground up is such fun! Be bold! My personal favorites are over-dyed Turkish rugs, Moroccan shags and bright Kilims.
When choosing a rug, I always recommend going with a piece that is all, or at least a majority of natural fibers. My choice is always to go for 100% wool. Wool and silk will always clean better than any synthetic. Rugs made of more natural grasses, such as sisal and jute are the opposite of easy to clean, they end up being very temperamental and can look terrible quickly if you’re not the tidiest person. I highly recommend steering clear of the polypropylene or acrylic rugs. Yes, they are generally very affordable and can come in some exciting patterns and colors, but after the first accidental spill, you will understand why they are so cheap.
I love to layer rugs. This has become almost a signature of my spaces. I believe when you layer rugs you can add such dynamic energy with mixing textures, colors and shapes! Another reason I love to layer rugs is many of us do not have perfectly rectangular or square rooms. Layering rugs can help make strange architectural intrusions work within the same space. And, by the way, no, you will not trip on the rugs. The trick to layering rugs is to keep them relatively thin and to keep the overlapped sections out of the direct path of traffic.
Now that I’ve piqued your interest in all that is underfoot, here are a few of my favorite sources when you are on the hunt for your next rug!
Tan Boon Liat, 315 Outram Road #03-08
Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road #02-06
Hedger’s Carpet Gallery
13 Dempsey Rd, #01-02, Singapore 249674
Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road #12-03