A Cure For The Common Carpet

Until we were told by our co-op board upon purchasing our Upper Manhattan apartment that we were required to cover 80% of our floors with rugs for soundproofing, the only rug I had owned was a bathmat.  I always thought hardwood floors were the way to go, and I loved the beautiful herringbone and inlaid pattern of our new deco apartment, but our fate was sealed.

At first discouraged, both by the task at hand and the cost implications, I soon was reminded that a rug is an essential element in many design schemes.  It is simultaneously a misused and underutilized feature.  But, if chosen carefully and used properly rugs can transform not only one room but an entire home.

Related: Giving An Old Rug New Life With a Sharpie Marker

Here are my 5 tips, the cure for the common carpet:

Go Natural

Use natural fiber rugs such as jute, sisal or abaca.  These beautiful rugs are neutral but the texture and weave give a wonderful depth, warmth and richness that will not overpower a room, especially if the rest of your room is already decorated.  One of these rugs can easily fit into your scheme and even add that extra punch.


Defining a space is one of the most important ways you create functionality in your home.  A rug is one of the best ways to define a space, especially if you have a  large living room that also contains a dining area.  In addition to configuring your furniture to clearly delineate the two areas, a rug that clearly marks the living area and a second one for the dining space will give each space its own character while creating a visual unity.  Choose rugs that are the same color but different in tone (i.e. light blue and dark blue), or one solid and one with pattern (keep the color palette refined to one or two colors).  Or, use the exact same pattern but in two different colors.    

Related: Why Homes in Magazines Are a Joke

Measure twice, purchase once!

 One of the most common mistakes people make is purchasing a rug that is too small, dwarfing and confusing a space.  If you are placing a rug in your living room, for example, there are two simple options: either buy a rug that can contain all of your furniture; or, buy a smaller rug that fits inside the space defined by your living area, with only your coffee table or ottoman on the rug.

Don’t forget the kitchen

Consider using a rug or runner in your kitchen.  Living in New York I have always had a galley kitchen.  With our open floor plan I was forced to come up with a rug solution in my kitchen and was pleasantly surprised with the result.  Having a runner underfoot while cooking and baking is very cozy and helps with being on your feet.  Choose a runner with a pattern that is reversible.  In between cleanings I (lazily) flip the runner over, and voila!  Clean rug.

Layer, layer, layer! 

One of the best ways to personalize any space is to layer rugs.  To make this work use one neutral color and one color within your scheme.  Mix patterns or textures, like layering a white sheepskin rug over a braided jute.  This works in both the color, texture and pattern category.  A white rug over a natural color has enough contrast but not too much; the plushness of the sheepskin softens the jute; and, the fluffiness of the sheepskin plays down the rigid braiding of the jute.  Win, win, win!

Keeping these 5 tips in mind I was able to stay within my budget, but also to create a cohesive visual dialogue starting the minute you step foot into our apartment.  And, an extra added bonus: we are weeks away from our 9-month old crawling and when he does he will be crawling in style.

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Isabella Patrick lives and designs in New York City. Constantly inspired by her surroundings she has always been intrigued by the shape and color of objects encountered at home and in her travels. 

Isabella received her B.A. in art history and went on to study interior design at F.I.T.  While in school she secured coveted design positions, first for the firm of David Netto Design and then for Thom Filicia, Inc. 

When not working on freelance design projects, staging Manhattan apartments or re-imagining her own surroundings, Isabella writes helpful design tips for other moms-on-the-go.  Isabella creates and lives by her “Dacha-ism” philosophy that your home should be your retreat (a “Dacha” is a Russian vacation villa), before and after Baby arrives.   

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