Needlepoint Area Rugs: 12 Decorating Tips from Cindy Rinfret, Part 1

Part 1 of 2

Cindy Rinfret, author of “Greenwich Style” leads a top east coast design firm with a roster of high profile clients and a long list of publications including the New York Times, Traditional Homes, House Beautiful, Town and Country, New England Home and Western Interiors.

The owners of the legendary Ocean House resort selected Rinfret Ltd. to decorate the prestigious Tower Suite  as part of a $140 million re-building of the Victorian landmark. 

Cindy illustrates her 12 decorating tips by examples from the Tower Suite.

 Interior Designer Cindy Rinfret started with a blue and white needlepoint rug to pull together the color scheme of the Tower Suite in the Ocean House.

Needlepoint rug in blue and white resonates with the sea

The expansive beach vistas of the Ocean House inspired Cindy Rinfret’s blue and white color palette


1. Set the look and feel of the rooms by starting with high quality rugs 

 When I’m designing spaces, our design team starts putting together fabrics, but the one piece that rounds the whole room is the rug, so a lot of times we’ll have one fabric, and then we’ll take it and go shopping, and then we’ll find the rug that will be the statement for the room. It really dictates a lot of the look of the room, whether it’s casual, whether it’s formal, how important it needs to be, so the rug is one of the first elements when I’m looking for a feeling of a room.

2.  Make sure the needlepoint area rug has the color palette to pull all the fabrics and textures together.

I go rug shopping with maybe one fabric or two fabrics, and it really helps pull the whole idea and the whole space together. We also select the paint and ceilings colors. There’s the floor, there’s the walls, there’s the ceiling, so there’s six elements to a room, and each one is as important….but the rug’s very important because, especially in a space like the Ocean House, you come up the stairs, and the first thing you see is the rug.  In this particular case we have this beautiful trellis needlepoint rug, and blue fabrics in particular are difficult to work with, because blues either match or they don’t match, so we picked out a rug that had a number of different blues in it, so that we could play all these different blues and textures throughout this particular project.  It was very helpful, because then the whole rest of the apartment just flowed.

Needlepoint area rugs, Asmara Ascot, blue, white

Because blues are particularly hard to work with, Cindy picked a needlepoint rug with a number of blues. “Then the whole rest of the apartment just flowed” said Cindy. Shown: Asmara Ascot Needlepoint Rug



 Needlepoint rugs, carpets, Asmara Ascot Needlepoint Rug

The Ascot needlepoint rug defines the dining area. It was chosen as the “statement rug” of the Tower Suite


3. Mix different types of decorative designer wool rugs to create an environment and an aura

 It is important that everything does not match. It’s about creating an environment and aura, and mixing different materials together. You know, people say you can’t use brass with nickel. You can mix everything together; it’s just about having courage and proportion, and making your statements interesting.

In the Tower Suite we selected a handmade wool needlepoint rug for the dining area, but on the staircase, we chose a very flat…almost sisal, that’s got a blue line through it, and it leads you up and down the stairs… Also in contrast to the statement blue and cream needlepoint rug in the dining area, we selected a very simple, serene sisal for the sitting area.

Blue striped stair runner rug complements needlepoint area rug

A blue stripe stair runner rug leads off from the needlepoint rug in the dining room


4. Use the rugs to define the rooms and ground the spaces.

 In the Tower Suite we used the rugs to create the spaces and to ground the rooms.  The rugs define the size of the room. In the living room the sisal rug creates the island on which all the furniture sits and so it creates the sitting area. In the dining area the needlepoint rug creates the dining space. Rugs are especially important for an open plan situation like we have here.


Decorative rug, designers rugs, living room rug

The adjoining living room space is defined by a quieter decorative rug


5. Choose supporting,  not competing decorative rugs for adjoining rooms.

 All the rugs can’t be important or they’ll compete with each other so the living room has a sisal rug to support the fabulous needlepoint rug in two tones of blue in the dining area, and then we selected a very flat weave on the stairs. It’s the balance of all these different textures and elements that makes the apartment interesting, and not too important or too casual. I love the layering and the texture of all these different materials used together.

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