Contemporary and Traditional Wool Rugs, Decorating Tips by Bill Barr

Interior Designer Bill Barr writes a stylish blog on Interior Design and has a deep understanding of decorating with both contemporary wool rugs and traditional wool rugs. I invited Bill to share his advice on decorating with rugs.

Blue and white rug, large scale blue and white leaf border rug,Asmara Bunbry Rug, Decorating tips by Bill Barr

Bill Barr selected Bunbry, a blue and white rug with a large scale leaf border for the living room. Bunbry is available as a needlepoint rug or as an oriental rug.


“First and foremost, I can’t imagine decorating without rugs.  To me rugs are the foundation of a room, much like a foundation on a house.  A rug supports a room by tying all the different pieces together visually and that’s why most design professionals prefer to begin a project by choosing a rug. 

“A rug’s colors allow a palette to be developed for the room, based on the colors in the rug.  Using colors found in the rug for upholstery and walls will create a space that is harmonious.  The rug’s pattern educates what other textures and patterns might be incorporated into the space or perhaps what shouldn’t be.

blue and white small scale geometric rug, blue and white textured needlepoint rug, Decoating with blue and white rugs, Asmara Basketweave Needlepoint rug

For the bedroom Bill chose Basketweave, a blue and white small scale geometric textured needlepoint rug.

“Because rugs typically take up a good amount of floor space, using a rug as the focal point of your room is easy to do.  Rugs can make a huge impact and they don’t have to be visually arresting to do so.  Create contrast by painting your walls a hue that echoes one of your rug’s accent colors or if you have a light rug go for a deep wall color, a dark rug… lighten up your walls to call attention to your rug. 

A rug can also help determine furniture placement, because rugs help define or separate areas, such as seating or dining areas, and foyers.  Floating furniture has become standard practice in recent years, gone are the days of “anchoring a wall” with a sofa.  In today’s homes pulling furniture away from walls can make a room feel more spacious and a rug will define an area and support furniture and its placement.

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that a rug really determines the mood of a room.  Choose a quiet tonal rug for a room that is restful and serene.  Choose a bold and richly colored rug for a room with energy and strength.  You can use a rug to visually manipulate how a room feels based on its pattern and colors.

There are some standard guidelines when regarding size when buying a rug.  For a full room rug the suggestion is to subtract 3 feet from the length and width of the room, leaving 18 inches of bare hardwood, tile, what-have-you at the edges.  This rule will keep the rug from overwhelming the room and makes the room look a little larger. This rule certainly won’t work in every situation, you could be starting with a room that is too big (a nice problem to have).  Multiple rugs are your best option for a “too big” room.  The one thing I always keep in mind is will the furniture in the room end up on or off the rug – or half on, half off. 

In a bedroom for instance I like the night stands to be off an area rug so I usually measure 20 to 22 inches off the bed wall and ensure that I can get the rug a minimum of 24″ beyond the foot of the bed, but more is certainly better. 

In a living room, if you are floating your sofa(s) I prefer them to be completely on the area rug, this will lend itself to feeling as if the rug is not undersized for the room.  In turn, if your sofa is against a wall, I employ a 1/3 rule.  The sofa can either be 1/3 on the rug or 1/3 off, remaining furniture can be on, off or 1/3 on or 1/3 off. 

“Also, when laying a rug under your dining table, leave enough rug beyond the edge of the table ( 24 inches in a bare minimum ) to enable the back legs of the chairs to stay on the rug, even when pulled out to let someone sit. 

“Lastly, remember rugs are incredible investments.  A good rug can and probably will outlive you.  Knowing this, buy a rug because you love it, not because it matches your existing sofa. Treat buying a rug like buying art and you will never go wrong… only buy furnishings you really love and guess what?  You will end up being surrounded by things you love, it’s that simple”.

I highly recommend Bill Barr’s interior design blog.

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