I have so often heard people say “It is hard to decorate with an Aubusson rug that has a central medallion- I always prefer rugs with all over designs”
The result of this widely held belief is that we have passed up on some truly great decorating opportunities. You will realize this when you see the 10 stunning interiors in todays post by design legends John Fowler, David Easton, Bunny Williams and other great decorators who know how to create unique drama with medallion Aubusson rugs.
Two rules for decorating with Aubusson rugs with central medallions:
1. For a relaxed elegance treat the central medallion in an Aubusson as if it is part of the overall design and not as a separate focal point.
This point is easily understood when the Aubusson rug has a muted color palette and the central medallion blends into the overall pattern of the rug. But it is hard to believe this approach could work when the Aubusson rug has a vibrantly colored, large central medallion–until David Easton demonstrates it with his stunning gold bedroom based on a Directoire Aubusson rug that is almost all medallion!
2. To accentuate the grandeur of an Aubusson rug with a central medallion, arrange the furniture around the medallion and place a round table on the medallion.
Bruce Bierman shows how to further increase the impact by choosing white for the upholstey and walls.
1. Ferguson & Shamamian chose an Aubusson rug with a large central medallion but placed the furniture where it makes the most sense and without treating the central medallion as a focal point of the room. The pattern of this Louis Philippe Aubusson rug is so dense, it can be considered an “all over design” rug. Another advantage is that the room feels more relaxed and elegant when you place the furniture without regard to whether the medallion is covered or not. Learn more about Aubusson rugs from this decorative period. Image courtesy Ferguson & Shamamian
2. John Fowler, called the “Prince of Decorators”, was admired by such legendary American decorators as Nancy Lancaster, Sister Parish, David Easton and Bunny Williams. Fowler chose a Louis XVI Aubusson rug for the London living room of Ambassador David and Evangeline Bruce The classic elegance of this living room would have been impaired if the central medallion in the Aubusson rug had been treated as a focal point of the room. View and learn about Aubusson rugs from this period. Image courtesy Architectural Digest.
2A. John Fowler. Another seating area in Ambassador David Bruce’s London Apartment is also designed for comfort and elegance, without regard to whether the furniture covers or does not cover the central medallion of the Aubusson rug. Learn more about Aubusson rugs. Image courtesy thepeakofchic blog.
2B. John Fowler. Another view of Ambassador Bruce’s London apartment showing the Gothic Chair from Nancy Lancaster bedroom at Haseley Court on the Louis XVI Aubusson rug. Image courtesy House & Garden Magazine and thepeakofchic blog.
3. Nancy Lancaster’s London bedroom with a pale yellow and gold Aubusson rug. Notice how the left third of the Aubusson rug is covered by the bed and the furniture is placed without regard to the medallion. Image courtesy thepeakofchic blog and whitehaveninteriors blog.
4. Hal Williamson chose a pale gold and yellow Aubusson rug with musical instruments in the patttern, for the music room of his New Orleans home. The Aubusson rug has a large central medallion which can be seen in the image below. Image courtesy Hal Williamson.
4A. Hal Williamson. Pablo Casals once played in this music room in Hal Williamson Italianate Revival house in New Orleans. Notice how the pinao and furniture are placed as if they are on an Aubusson rug with an all over design and without treating the central medallion as a focus of the room.
5. Bruce Bierman says “Rugs are so spectacular that I like them to stand alone in the room unobstructed by competing fabric or wall patterns.” For this Jupiter Florida living room Bruce chose an Aubusson rug with a spectacular central medallion and accentuated the drama by placing seating around the large central medallion and centering a round glass topped coffee table as it would be done in a 19th century French interior (Learn more about 19th century French interior decorating with Aubusson rugs). Bierman chose white upholstery and white walls to bring out the grandeur of the Aubusson rug and to give the room a modern feeling. Image and Bierman quotations courtesy Alix Perrachon, The Decorative Carpet.
6. Thomas C. Achille prefers Aubusson rugs with a minimalist, toned-down palette that allow him to create modern monochromatic interiors. “Let the carpet be the star!” he advises, and says that all other elements in the room should play off the carpet. “Decorating around a rug is so incredibly easy—I hope my clients don’t find out how simple it really is!” he confides.
The Aubusson rug in the above living room has such a toned down palette the large medallion just becomes part of the overall pattern. This means the furniture can be placed anywhere in the room. Image and quotations courtesy Alix Perrachon, The Decorative Carpet.
7. Leta Foster chose a pale colored Aubusson rug with a large oval medallion and decorated the bedroom as she would with a rug with an all over design. This gave her the freedom to cover a good portion of the rug’s medallion with the bed. This decorating approach creates a more relaxed and romantic look. Image courtesy Leta Foster.
8. The Belclaire House blog featured this living room with a Neoclassical Aubusson design needlepoint rug by Asmara. The interior designer chose to accentuate the drama of the oval medallion of the rug by arranging the seating around the medallion and placing a round table on it. View and learn the history of this Aubusson design needlepoint rug.
9. David Easton says “One needs to start with the rug – how can you make any other decision in the room, including the choice of sofa fabric,without it?” Easton has an attitude approaching reverence when he speaks of the handcrafted quality and the ancient traditions that handmade rugs arise from. He believes these qualities can never be replicated by machines. To Easton, fine rugs are “… like having a painting on the floor. It affects everything else in the room.” Even though this Directoire Aubusson rug has a very prominent central medallion, Easton feels perfectly at ease in covering half the medallion under the bed. Any one who still believes that a medallion should never be “hidden” by furniture should be shown this marvellous bedroom. Easton derived the entire color scheme for the room from the yellow background of the Aubusson rug. Learn more about Aubusson rugs from this decorative period.
David Easton believes one should find a rug that creates a harmony with the architecture and the other objects in the room–“It’s like music—the mixture of subtle colors and textures should be harmonious” says Easton.
Easton prefers rugs with a thin, ribbed textural surface- a characteristic of worn, older pieces that have “a grace of age”. He does not like rugs that have “the cut pile look”. “Never buy a rug that is too sharp in color” he advises. “It should blend into the totality of the room and the scale of its pattern must be in proportion to that of the room” .
What if the rug he likes is not in the perfect size? “I would still buy it, if I really loved it!”
Easton avoids wall to wall carpeting, and tries to place handmade rugs in every room except the kitchen. He likes to see rugs on wood floors, but is willing to accept placing them on sisal carpeting, especially in bedrooms. Image and quotations courtesy Alix Perrachon, The Decorative Carpet.
10. Bunny Williams chose an Aubusson rugs with muted golds, rose and cream and a large central medallion that blends in with the rest of the pattern of the rug. The sofa and chairs cover most of the medallion. The room has a lyrical and romantic ambience.