5 questions to ask before you buy a rug

Statement dining room rug The Design Files

One of the biggest changes in my taste over the last few years has been my approach to using colour in my home. My first flat was my haven from the hustle and bustle of London life and its muted palette of greys, neutrals and white helped me wind down when I stepped through the door. Since leaving London though, I’ve really begin to embrace colour and pattern, especially through my new-found love of global textiles. Some of the designs that catch my eye are positively riotous – no more so than the incredible Nepalese rag rug I picked to give our home office some oomph. Isn’t it amazing?

Cairo Sunburst ethical rag rug from The Rug House

Choosing a statement rug is an important and sometimes tricky decision because, apart from the walls, it is often the biggest and most eye-catching element of your room. Get it right and you can perfectly pull together your space but, choose badly, and you could end up with a pricey mistake that makes your room look oddly out of proportion. I thought I’d share my top five questions you need to ask for rug buying success!

5 questions to ask before you buy a rug

1 | How do I choose the right size rug for my room?

The advice here is usually bigger than you think. Lots of people make the mistake of compromising on a smaller rug because large rugs can be expensive, but buying a rug that’s too small is a false economy as it will only make your room feel awkward. Instead, measure your seating area and use this as your guide: ideally the rug should be big enough for the legs of all your furniture to be on rug, whether that’s sofas, armchairs and a coffee table in the living room or a dining table and chairs. For rooms where your sofa or bed is against the wall you can get away with a smaller rug and position only the front legs on it, although aim for the rug to extend at least halfway underneath the furniture to maintain pleasing proportions. These layout suggestions from West Elm work for most spaces.

How to position a rug in a room

2 | What material is best for a rug?

Practical considerations are important here. For high traffic areas like a hallway or large  living room you need a rug that’s durable, so go for a flatwoven cotton dhurrie or a rug made from a natural fibre like sisal, coir or seagrass. If the rug is for your bedroom or under your dining table, you can get away with a tufted or knotted wool rug with a deeper pile that feels softer under foot – the most luxurious contain silk fibres too. Highly textured hooked rag rugs like mine, or a gorgeous Moroccan boucherouite rug (like the one below) can look beautiful but are tricky to clean so aren’t the best choice for high traffic areas or if you have pets or children. On hard floors make sure you use a non-slip rug mat underneath any rug.

Boucherouite rug from Etsy

3 | What’s the difference between different types of rug?

Hand knotted rugs: These are usually the most expensive because of the time it takes to make them and their superior quality, created by looping yarn through the backing cloth and tying it by hand. A hand knotted rug is a real investment piece so it’s worth buying from a specialist dealer who can advise you. Make sure you quiz them on question five to check the rug has been produced ethically.

Tufted rugs: These are made by looping the yarn through a backing cloth, before a latex glue is applied to the reverse side to hold the pile in place. These can look similar to knotted rugs but are cheaper. Although rugs with a longer pile might look more luxurious, those with a shorter, denser pile are usually better quality.

Flatwoven rugs: These are woven from wool or cotton and don’t have a pile to them. Flatwoven rugs are usually reversible, durable and relatively affordable. Styles include dhurries (made in India) and kilims (from Turkey).

Rag rugs: Choose from hooked rag rugs, which have a looped appearance or looser tufted styles. Both are made by inserting strips of cloth or recycled rags through a hessian back cloth. They tend to be good value and it’s easy to make a small one yourself at home, if you like.

Braided, coiled and crocheted: This takes in a wide range of styles, from cute cotton mats for children’s rooms to sophisticated hemp rugs like the one below from US fair trade retailer, Armadillo & Co. They’re usually round or oval in shape and have a rustic, handmade feel.

Round hemp rug from Armadillo and Co

4 | Will a bold or bright rug work in my room?

Any statement piece will be most successful if it’s not made to compete with other elements of the room, whether that’s in terms of colour, pattern or texture. So, in a room that already has lots of pattern, opt for a rug in a single bold colour to pull the patterns together. Or if the room already has a striking colour scheme, use the rug to add a hit of graphic pattern picking out one or two key accent shades.  In neutral rooms or if you’re picking your rug first, you have the freedom to go wild and choose a really striking rug that will be the focal point of your room. If bright colours are too much for you, you can still make a statement with a graphic monochrome rug, like this beautiful example which complements the other richly coloured textiles perfectly.

Ethnic bedroom CasaSugar

5 | How can I check if a rug has been ethically produced?

Sadly, child labour is still a problem in the rug industry and it’s estimated that around 250,000 children operate looms, mainly in India, Nepal and Afghanistan. There are two marks you should look for, which certify that a rug has been produced ethically. The GoodWeave logo can be found in both the UK and USA and Care & Fair is a European initiative. As well as inspecting rug and carpet manufacturers to check children aren’t being exploited they also help to fund schools, education and health programmes to raise living standards and increase employment options for rug-weaving families. I found my Care & Fair rug here and you can find a list of Care & Fair members here and search GoodWeave members here.

Rug with Care and Fair logo label for ethical standards

Hopefully this has helped answer a few of your rug buying questions so you can feel a bit more confident choosing the best rug for your space and your style. An eye catching rug really can be the centrepiece of your room so have fun and don’t be afraid to pick something bright and beautiful! Keep the other elements of your scheme white or fairly neutral and you can make almost any design look amazing.

[Photographs: 1 Sean Fennessey for The Design Files. 2 Cairo Sunburst rug from The Rug House, Decorator's Notebook. 3 diagram from West Elm. 4 The Pink Rug Co. 5 Armadillo & Co. 6 Casa Sugar. 7 Decorator's Notebook.

[My rug was kindly given to me by The Rug House]

If you enjoyed this post please hit a button to share with a friend
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone
Thrifty gardening tips moodboard

Garden makeover on a shoestring: part 1

The little garden was one of the most exciting things about moving to our new house – well, for me anyway. For the last 10 years I’ve lived in various flats… modern ones, old ones, big ones, small ones, but never ones with a garden. So, with secateurs in hand, a garden makeover is my… 

Read More »

The Information Blanket

Design Can Change the World – The Information Blanket

The idea that a purchase here in the UK can directly improve the lives of people in need in developing countries is central to what we do at Decorator’s Notebook, with many of our products being made by social enterprises and co-operatives around the world. For this instalment in the series we wanted to share with you… 

Read More »

dip dye curtains how to guide DIY

How to dip dye curtains

A couple of weekends ago we decided to make the most of this spell of sunny weather and have a day of crafting and DIY in our new little garden. Since we moved in, I’d set myself the task of bringing a splash of colour into our room by dip dying the plain white cotton… 

Read More »

Kantha quilts from Decorator's Notebook in The Sunday Times

The Sunday Times loves our kantha quilts!

Seeing our gorgeous kantha quilts in The Sunday Times yesterday put a huge smile on Bethan’s face. We have just six special quilts left made by Rina, Jahanara, Moni, Joli and Mukta. Buy one and put a big smile on their faces too! These brave women have all overcome shocking experiences to train with our… 

Read More »

The Frome Independent Market August 2014

Decorator’s Notebook pop-up at Frome-on-Sea!

We’re really excited to announce that the Decorator’s Notebook pop-up shop will be returning to The Frome Independent this weekend! We’ve made a short video of our last appearance as a taster, and there’s even more going on this time, with the arrival of the Frome-on-Sea beach with lots of games and seaside fun for… 

Read More »

Decorator's Notebook summer sale discounts

SUMMER SALE up to 50% off!

We’re making space on our shelves ready for our new collection to arrive by having a sale! Shop now → HIGHLIGHTS Seagrass baskets now £25.20 (£5.80 cheaper than Bodie & Fou with delivery) Campfire screen print now £30 (50% off) Eleanor Pritchard blankets now £195 (save £35) Delivery reduced to £3.95 for UK

make your own sweet tea, iced tea syrup, Arnold Palmer Cocktail recipe

Weekend recipe: Iced Tea (Cocktail) Syrup

Those of you living in the UK will be enjoying the amazing summer weather, which inspired me last weekend to rustle up a refreshing drink to enjoy in the sunshine. This iced tea or sweet tea syrup can be added to water to be enjoyed with lemonade to create a refreshing soft drink or with a splash… 

Read More »

Ali Mapletoft won't buy clothes for a year without meeting the maker

The fashion designer going one step further to learn #WhoMadeYourClothes

Did you see the Clothes To Die For documentary on BBC2 last night about the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, the same city where our social enterprise partner Basha makes our kantha quilts? Asking about the origins of the things we buy – from fashion, to food, to home accessories is something we should… 

Read More »