Imagine you are leading guests on a tour of your home. As you walk from one room to the next do you see a consistent design aesthetic or do some rooms jump out because they have not yet been updated? If after this tour you decide to freshen the neglected rooms, where would you start? Many decorators start with the rug as it makes it easier to find complementary fabrics, paint colors and accessories. However, choosing a rug raises such questions as- how well matched do rugs in adjoining rooms have to be? Should you even try to match area rugs in adjoining rooms or should they all be different? Are there rules for how to coordinate different area rugs? how do you put oriental rugs in adjoining rooms? how to pick complementing designer rugs for one room? and how to have area rugs in adjoining living and dining rooms? I asked Jackie Ostrander, a highly sought after rug consultant to interior designers in Greenwich, Connecticut, Palm Beach and Naples, Florida to help me answer these questions.
1. Should You Match Rugs in Adjoining Rooms?
Instead of matching you can choose different rugs that have one or two colors in common as these custom neoclassical rugs in the bedroom, media room and living room in Paris designed by Jean-Louis Deniot.
2. How Well Matched Do Rugs in Adjoining Rooms Have to Be?
You can use two matching carpets for the living and dining areas of an open plan room and then add variety be picking different colors for the upholstery in the two spaces such as yellow and gold for the living area and red and gold for the dining area. All these colors are found in the Midsummer Night Oriental rugs. Interior design by Justine Sancho.
3. Are There Rules for How to Coordinate Different Rugs?
A key rule for choosing rugs for adjoining rooms or for an open plan room is to choose rugs that have complimentary patterns and have one or two colors in common such as the damask pattern Valencia 6024GD oriental rug on the left and the Greek key geometric pattern Sigma 1804YH oriental rug on the right.
4. How to Pick Complementing Rugs for One Room.
The key to picking complementing rugs for one room is to pick rugs that have at least one color in common as the red and gold geometric patterned Ascot 1326RGD Needlepoint rug and the red, gold, green and white Empire 1910A needlepoint rug.
5. How to Pick Area Rugs for Adjoining Living and Dining Rooms
Area rugs in adjoining living and dining rooms can be linked by one color and have very different designs. The living room on the left has a gray rug with dark blue pinstripes and the dining room on the right has a blue rug with gray mirror frame against blue walls. Interior design by Victoria Hagan, architecture by Peter Pennoyer.
The living room rug has a gray contemporary rug with dark blue pinstripes which link it with the dining room’s blue walls and blue oriental rug. Interior design by Victoria Hagan, architecture by Peter Pennoyer.
The gray metallic frame around the mirror links the dining room with the adjacent living room. Interior design by Victoria Hagan, architecture by Peter Pennoyer.
Left: Entrance hall, Middle: Living room, Right: Dining room. The three rooms are linked by yellow and gold in the rugs, walls and fabrics. Interior design by Stephen Shadley.
An antique gold and navy Portuguese needlepoint rug graces the entrance hall. The gold color is carried through to the living room and dining room oriental rugs and walls. Interior design by Stephen Shadley.
The living room is linked to the entry and dining room through the yellow walls and yellow accents in the oriental rug. Interior design by Stephen Shadley.
The dining room is linked to the living room with the yellow and red accents in the oriental rug and the yellow walls. Interior design by Stephen Shadley.
6. Study the existing decor of the adjacent rooms
First, study what is in the home already. If you are looking for a dining room rug, look and see what the room opposite has and what’s going on in the hallway and in the foyer and then look at what’s going on in the room opposite that. If there is a very strong rug in, say the living room, which is opposite the dining room, then work with those colors and choose a rug that has a complementary design. Pick a rug for the dining room that does not compete with the living room rug.
7. Select quieter rugs to support statement rugs
Every star needs a supporting actor and the same is true for rugs. A good supporting rug enhances the beauty of the statement rug by giving it context, but does not compete with it for attention. Look for supporting rugs that carry through some of the colors of the statement rug. Here are two examples:
Left: The living room has a statement rug a floral trellis rug Branches 7172E Oriental rug. Right: The dining room is visible from the living room so Jackie suggested a cream and beige geometric rug Bombay CD needlepoint rug .The beige geometric rug complements the living room rug but does not compete with it.
Detail views of the rugs in the adjoining living and dining rooms:
The Bombay CD San Marco Needlepoint Rug 1125CD picks up the beige tones in the Branches Oriental rug. The Bombay rug can be custom ordered in any size either as an oriental pile rug or as a flat weave rug or a cut and loop pile rug.
In this example the living room and dining room are separated by the foyer and stairs. The living room has a statement rug – a blue Oushak rug and the dining room has a custom made blue and white floral rug. The foyer has a blue and white rug with a small scale geometric pattern (Sigma Oriental rug) which forms a bridging link between the living room and dining room rugs. For the stairs Jackie recommended a blue and white striped runner rug (not shown). The striped rug would add a pattern that complements all the other rugs.
Detail views of the rugs in the adjacent living room, hallway and dining room:
Living room: Thera Oushak rug 3220B; Foyer: Sigma 1804BC cut and loop oriental rug. Dining room: Custom Bunbry needlepoint rug or custom Bunbry oriental rug. The rooms will look “collected not decorated” because the three rugs have different shades of blue as well as different textures.
8. Avoid “matchy matchy” decorating
Avoid the temptation of matching the of the rugs too perfectly. When colors are matched too closely, the room will lack energy. Interior designers derisively call this “matchy, matchy” decorating because these rooms lack energy and excitement. Rooms are more interesting when their colors are related, but not the same. Juxtaposing rugs with different shades of the same color, or rugs that have one color in common will create a more sophisticated look.
9. Heighten drama by juxtaposing rugs of different textures and weaves
Juxtapose a cut pile carpet next to a flat-weave rug or a cut and loop carpet makes each room look special.
10. Create a more distinctive look by pairing rugs of contrasting colors
You can dial up the drama even more by juxtaposing rugs of contrasting colors such as a red rug for the living room and a green rug for the adjoining bedroom. In this case you create links through the color of walls, fabrics and accessories as illustrated in the rooms below:
A green and white geometric rug (Bamboo needlepoint rug) contrasts with a yellow rug in the hallway and a red and white rug (Bergamo 1327BR needlepoint rug) in the living room (pictured below). Since the three rugs have contrasting colors the rooms are linked by the colors of the walls and fabrics- the bedroom sitting area has yellow walls, blue-green upholstery and red bolsters which create links with the living room’s red walls, red and white rug and blue-green upholstery. Interior design by Susan Nelson.
The red and cream Bergamo 1327BR needlepoint rug inspired the red Venetian plaster walls of the living room. The blue-green wingback chairs and ottoman link the living room with the bedroom sitting area.
Detail views of the rugs in the adjacent bedroom sitting area and living room:
Bedroom sitting area: Green and white Bamboo Needlepoint Rug 1337CG; Living room: Red and white Bergamo Needlepoint Rug 1327BR. Since green and red are contrasting colors, designer Susan Nelson linked the two rooms through the colors of the upholstery fabrics, pillows and walls.
11. Try corner samples of rugs in the rooms
“Try large corner samples of the rugs in the home and live with them for a week,” says Ostrander. “Ask your interior designer to come in and think about fabrics”.
“Place rug samples for adjoining rooms with the fabrics for those rooms and see how they work with each other. Eventually you will be able to pull it all together,”concludes Jackie Ostrander.
12. Watch Video of Designer Eric Guenther’s tips for mixing patterns
13. Read this blog post on how to coordinate rugs in open plan rooms
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 13, 2011 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.