An area rug can help wake up a room

Select color, size and pattern after deciding what the rug's purpose is

December 21, 2003|By Elaine Gaston | Elaine Gaston,Knight Ridder / Tribune

If you're seeking to change the look of a room in your home, consider a small investment in an area rug.

"It's an easy way to change the look, and if your carpet isn't in the best shape, it's a quick fix," said James Brophy, vice president of sales at Grand Strand Floors in Myrtle Beach, S.C. "Area rugs have become very popular."

Area rugs have found favor among homeowners mainly because many newer houses feature hard floor surfaces such as tile and hardwood. Area rugs can instantly warm up a room, become the focal point, add splashes of color or define spaces in a room, the experts say. And they're easy to change with the seasons.

Area rugs aren't just for covering hard surfaces. Area rugs can also be placed over wall-to-wall carpet to serve as a focal point, or under a dining room table.

Choosing just the right area rug isn't all that difficult, but there are some things you should consider before making a purchase. Here are some tips:

* Determining the rug's use -- Are you using it to protect hard wood floor? Define spaces within a room? Warm up tile flooring?

* Integrating with decor -- If the rug will be your focal point, consider one with a central medallion. If the fireplace is the focal point, go with an area rug with a more repetitive pattern, minus the medallion.

If your upholstery or wallpaper contains ornate patterns, go with a subtler pattern in the rug. Choose a rug with colors that coordinate with your decor. It's not necessary that all the colors match, but at least one color should. A lighter-colored rug will make the room seem more spacious; a darker one will create warmth.

The experts suggest you bring swatches of your wallpaper, paint or upholstery fabrics when you shop.

* Mixing area rugs -- You can use different patterns within the same room as long as the colors coordinate. Vary the sizes to create interest and contrast.

* Choosing sizes -- For use under a coffee table, 4-foot-by-6- foot or 6-foot-by-9-foot area rugs work. Table legs should stand within the rug. To accent furnishings, leave some floor space between rug and furniture.

For use under a dining room table, go with a rug that's at least 8 feet wide. The chair legs should not fall off the rug when people are seated at the table or when the chair is pulled out. To be sure of the size, measure the length and width of the table, and add at least 4 feet to each.

For use in an entire room, an 8-foot-by-11-foot rug typically works well. Try to leave an equal amount of flooring exposed on all sides, as border.

* Using a rug pad -- The experts recommend using a rug pad to keep the area rug from sliding and creeping. They also protect the rug, absorb noise, make vacuuming easier and prevent the back of the rug from scratching hard surfaces.

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