How To Use Colorful Contemporary Wool Rugs As Neutrals

“Everyone that walks in here has said ‘My goodness I would never have thought of a rug in this color, but it is so beautiful’!  I always say “Any color can be your neutral if you trust putting other colors with it…it doesn’t have to be beige to be neutral” Eric Guenther, Chief Designer, Whim, San Juan Capistrano CA.

Terracotta, beige, green and blue rug

Eric installed the Lucia Contemporay-Traditional rug in Whim Home just one day before our interview.

Have men said the rug is beautiful too?

Eric: “Oh yes already!

As a matter of fact I have had people come in, and the women say “ I don’t know if my husband will come in here” Like they will get kudos –laughs—and the husband goes I could live with this, It’s kind of cool!”

Case in point: we have shades of pink and a neutral terracotta brick wall, that’s orange and pink. Pink and orange are beautiful together. It’s just that the balance has to be constantly in play.

Are people becoming more brave with color?

I am so glad people are being more brave with color. The beige days are kind of over for some, they are getting a little more daring.

How paractical is this rug for everyday use?

This contemporary rug is based on a traditional pattern and has a very comfortable coloration. When you look at the rug, it looks safe to walk on even though the colors are bright and fresh. It is safe because it has an abrashed background with several shades of beige. A little footprint will not look like anything and will not spoil it, which is important.

How do you decorate a room with a brightly colored rug?

Everyone can understand the concept of a contemporary rug or a traditional rug being in a neutral color palette with a very tight color range: beige, cream, tan and camel. People say “Oh! I can figure out how to mix things with that!”.

Coral, terracotta, beige, green and blue rug

When you look at something that has a much more unique, stylized and obvious color palette like the Lucia rug, where you have a strong shrimp color and the blue and the green are unusual…the blue is a very intense, almost a turquoise color and the green is very greyed down… what makes this rug work, I couldn’t tell you, it is the genius of the artist. I love the idea that it sits in this room where the walls are a soft dusty rose color, the pillow sitting propped against it is bright orange, bright pink, salmon pink and coral, with a taupe background. The taupe always makes the bright colors feel grounded. The vases are a dark raspberry and tangerine color with a white background.

I think what this rug illustrates is that even though it’s colors are what most people consider a specific color, call it shrimp or whatever, we have got a whole range around it and it looks wonderful with it. Color is no more limiting.

I always say any color can be your neutral if you trust putting other colors with it…it doesn’t have to be beige to be neutral.

In this case the shrimp is the neutral and everything lighter than it, darker than it, more orange and more pink works just as well around it in the range of colors as long as it is in the right family. This is just the same principle as slecting two shades of beige that work together.

Could you explain how a bright color can be a neutral?

If there is enough of any color, particularly if it’s on the floor and in a rug, then that color can be the neutral and everything else that is a complement or companion can be used just as liberally as you would put beige, cream and camel together.

People come into this room and and it has relatively strong pink and coral shades, and these colors even have a gender attached to them. So people say “Oh my gosh! My husband would never go for this”. Obviously we are being specific about the sexuality of a particular color.

What do you say to people who are afraid of strong colors?

I think people are trapped by their fear that if they buy a rug that has a shrimp color that they will be trapped with something they can’t live with. It is really a matter of finding where your emotional comfort zone is, and not where everyone else’s comfort zone is.

It is okay to express yourself. I don’t think anything illustrates this better than the Lucia rug in this room!

Future blog posts will feature new and exciting room schemes by leading interior designers.

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