How to Add Glamour to Contemporary Décor with Aubusson Rugs: 4 Tips

You’ve thought about it for a long time and you think you’re ready to take the plunge, but the question still lingers in the back of your mind: can you successfully mix Aubusson rugs with contemporary décor? What kind of look would you end up with if you took the plunge? Some people would call it eclectic. Others would call it vintage modern. Still others would swear it’s classic contemporary. Whatever you call it, rest assured that done correctly, it would be a brilliantly glamorous fusion of the beauty of the past and the fabulousness of the present.  
The Aubusson rug, the younger, more informal sister of the Savonnerie carpet, is a flat weave rug made of ultra-fine wool, with a texture, color palette and design that would work in even the most modern of rooms. The floral and architectural patterns that make up the heart and soul of Aubusson rugs lend themselves perfectly to chic contemporary settings. If you have a modern, loft-like space or a gallery-style room, don’t think that your Aubusson will be out of place. By keeping a few simple tips in mind, you can marry the two different design styles beautifully, creating the perfect blend of something old and something new.

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In this room effortlessly put together by design wiz Kate Spade, the dreamy peach tones of the Aubusson rug sets off the modern art in the room brilliantly, creating  a space that effortlessly syncs up yesterday and today. Image courtesy The Selby.

1. Lay Down Your Aubusson Rug, and Hang Your Modern Art

Lay down your rug, and fill the walls with your favorite modern paintings or photographs. Don’t hesitate, but instead be fearless as you hang your De Koonings, your Basquiats or your 6-year-old’s abstract painting on the walls, allowing them to stand guard over your Aubusson rugs.

2. Don’t Worry About Matching Colors to the Aubusson Rug

Don’t worry about matching colors in the art with the colors in your rug, instead letting each piece stand on its own, casting its own light. Prevent overkill by keeping the rest of the furnishings in the room simple.

3. Create a Healthy Balance Between the Aubusson Rug and Modern Pieces

When furnishing with Aubusson rugs in modern settings, the Aubusson rug doesn’t need to be the only classic piece in the room, but it will function as the core piece. Mix up the space with a healthy blend of modern and vintage accessories and furniture items. You could choose a stunning, sleek but low-key modern table to sit atop the Aubusson rug so that the rug is not obscured or overshadowed. As you move about decorating the space, remember that the Aubusson rug is the star of the room. It’s up to you if you want it to be a dignified and reserved Helen Mirren-type star or if you’d prefer that it have all the subtlety of a Lady Gaga.
Reupholster a few traditional pieces with funky modern fabrics, like a Louis XVI chair with a bold black and white linen fabric.  

4. Juxtapose Modern Colors with Aubusson Rug

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Michael Smith, known as ‘The Presidents decorator” painted the walls of his newly renovated Manhattan penthouse a contemporary grey color to bring out the beauty of the flamboyant Louis XV Aubusson rug and to give the room a modern look. This living room was featured on the cover of a recent Architectural Digest. Image courtesy Architectural Digest.

The remarkable thing about this living room is that red and blue colors are that are so dominant in the Aubusson rug are not carried through to the rest of the room which has large expanses of neutrals. If Smith had carried the red and blue colors of the Aubusson rug to the rest of the room, he would have done the ordinary and the expected. By complimenting the Aubusson rug with pale neutrals the room looks and feels modern.

Michael Smith celebrity clients include Cindy Crawford, Steven Spielberg, Rupert Murdoch, Dustin Hoffman and Michelle Pfeiffer.

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A mural by Matisse hangs above the fireplace in Nelson Rockefeller’s living room designed by architect Wallace K. Harrison. The Art Deco Aubusson rug designed by Christian Bérard and furniture by Jean-Michel Frank upholstered in bold yellow and luminous blue-green create a room that remembers the past and relishes the present. Image; Pinterest Aubusson Rugs Decorating

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An Art Deco Aubusson rug reminiscent of Andre Arbus is the star of this Ferguson & Shamamian designed living room in The Beresford in New York. The white, grey and beige color palette creates an art gallery like sophistication in this room. Image courtesy Ferguson & Shamamian.

Soft-colored Aubusson rugs paired with funky, bold, bright, rich and colorful accessories and furniture are a beautiful way to pair the modern and the old. By keeping the rest of the room sparse and gallery-like, you allow the key elements in the room to function like individual pieces of art. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Follow his lead.

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