Designer Advice: Rug Rules


In a world where rules were meant to be broken, it gets a little tricky trying to determine the do's and don'ts of designing and decorating.  So here is a new series to help you make the right decision for your home.   I am asking 3 designers for advice on common decorating questions, and design dilemmas.    This month we are looking at area rugs, and how to properly fit them in your space.  How big?  How Small?  All legs on?  You get the picture.  Mary Douglas Drysdale, Tobi Fairley and Barry Dixon share their expertise.

"Rugs come in many sizes, types and shapes, but I use in my classically and symmetry driven room plans, two basic shapes: first the "room sized" rug, which is fabricated to the shape and dimension of a room, leaving a modest border of 6 to 12 inches of finished floor showing, at the perimeter, and second, but most often, my plans call for the location of a defining "area rug", which acts as a frame for the furnishings scheme. I have equal affection for the simplicity of woven and textured pieces, such as sisal, as well as, the exotic patterning and colors of the classic Oushaks. I think a decorative scheme so much more successful, if the pieces are placed firmly within the borders of and clearly on a rug, or frankly and confidently off the rug, within the area of flooring, which surrounds the carpet, preferably with a consistent dimension, to further enhance the felling of balance in the room." 
You can contact and see more of Mary Douglas Drysdale's work HERE


"I think rugs play a key role in both comfort and cohesiveness of any good design. For me, rugs define conversation areas and add warmth to every space. I am known for the custom geometric carpets that I so often use in my designs. One of my favorite vendors...New River Artisans. These custom pieces add pattern, color, and texture all at the same time. I typically fill a room with the rug which often unifies all the seating areas for a cozy yet sophisticated aesthetic. My rule of thumb is 12-18 inches from the wall around the entire perimeter of the room. This makes the space look larger and encourages homeowners and guests alike to really use the entire room, not just a portion of it."   
You can contact and see more of Tobi Fairley's work HERE

Barry Dixon

"Generally, I like for the carpet in a room to be sized to accomplish one of two things: to fill the room, leaving a small peripheral border of the floor underneath as a “frame” for the rug (6” to 9” in a small room, 9” to 15” in a larger room); or to define a particular furniture arrangement within a larger space. As far as furniture placement on the rug itself, I like for primary pieces to “connect” with the carpet (at least the front legs of a sofa, larger lounge chair or case piece should be on the rug itself). Secondary pieces may be completely on or off the rug."  
You can contact and see more of Barry Dixon's work HERE
If you would like designers to weigh in on your design question, please email me. 

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  1. First off - that orange dress? HELLO! Wouldn't mind a slice of that thank you very much!

    Great series - lots of great advice. Thank you.

  2. That was a great point of view for anyone who is unsure about rug sized. Too many times, i see rugs far too small for a particular space. Rugs are such an important anchor in a room

  3. Great post, Vitania! It is very interesting to read what these wonderful designers think regarding how they use rugs and what their "rule" is for their use.

  4. Good, clear cut comments... all of which are fairly consistent with one another.

    One of the flooring trends this year was supposedly going to be the layering of area rugs, which I haven't seen a lot of...

  5. Fantastic post Vitania!
    I agree completely with the importance of a well fitted and positioned rug.
    So often you see them mal-placed and neglected.

    So many good pointers - will for sure keep bookmarked.

    Thank you also for your sweet comments on my dining room design. It felt so good to read your approval.

    xx Charlotta

  6. Hi Vitania,
    What a cool series! I was not even aware of the 6-12 inch rule, so that was awesome to learn. Great line up of designers too.

    To the Countrypolitan - I am totally planning on doing the layering this Fall and wrote an entry on that.

    Vitania, thank you so much for stopping by my designer challenge. I appreciate your comments.

  7. Love all the designers and their advise. Thanks for sharing their design tips. xo

  8. How fun that you've included 2 designers from my neck of the woods. I love the advice that each designer shared and will take that to heart the next time I'm shopping for a rug.

  9. Hi Vitania! My wife is a great home keeper. Her birthday is coming. When I asked her what she wants for her special day, she told me that she doesn't want anything extravagant, all she wanted is this beautiful woven floor rug sitting at the store window. Yesterday, I surprised her with an early gift and bought her the vintage rug. She immediately placed it on our (Lakeland) flooring. It was perfect. I can't remember the last time I've seen her so happy.

    You are right, Vitania. Rugs give warmth to any space. Thanks for this fantastic post!


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