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Carpets and Rugs for the Period Home

Aug 9, 2008
The carpets you choose for a room will define and showcase it in more ways than you can imagine. Choose wisely, and a large area rug, period wall-to-wall carpet, or series of rugs will successfully anchor the room, allowing all the other furnishings to fall neatly into place.

Interior designers often direct their clients to start with the floor, and for good reason. Any decoration you choose for a room will be affected by the floor covering remember, the floor has more square footage than any given wall. While the period of your house and or the style of your furniture can suggest a few logical starting points, the extraordinary variety of patterns and colors available in reproduction (not to mention new, period-friendly designs) makes for an overwhelming quantity of choice.

The rug styles you select for an older home can vary and be eclectic as long as they have an aged quality that unifies them. If you do not have the budget for an antique rug, the antique quality can be implied by the color or texture of the rug. Select a rug with muted colors, or one with a fringe that is tea-stained rather than pure white.

In addition to looking for rugs with an aged quality, choose a common color or pattern element for all the carpets used throughout the house. The balance of color or pattern in each rug can differ, but still works to draw them together. Layering styles and patterns works to give an accumulated over time look, a sense of history that is more appropriate for a period home.

Before you begin your search, calculate the size of the rug you need. Determine the border of one of your main furniture groupings, and then extend the rug at least a foot beyond that on all sides so that it defines that area, but doesn't feel tight.

The correct size of area rugs is very significant to the overall feel of a room. They define the space, making a subconscious division. So always go bigger: you don't want to create subliminal walls within a room.

The next step is to ascertain a color palette, whether based on existing artwork or furniture or simply colors that you love. Your colors should relate. If, for example, your upholstery is mostly blue, make certain that there is some blue in the rug so that it complements but does not match, acting as an accent.

Similarly, if you put two rugs in a room, both of which have some red in the pattern, you would want that color to appear in different proportions in each. Color value also comes into play. If you have darker upholstered furnishings, then you want the rug to be lighter so that it stands out and doesn't blend in.

Alternatively, if your furniture is lighter in color, you should go darker. Its about contrast, creating separation, layering. Take the carpet samples home to look at with your belongings in night light as well as daylight. View the carpet in natural daylight and in the light in the space where you plan to use the color. The larger the sample, the easier it will be for you to make a decision.

Pay attention to scale and pattern, too. Its all about balance. If your sofa and chairs have a small, tightly patterned floral, then go with a larger pattern on the floor, and vice versa. Striped and solid color upholstery gives greater flexibility when it comes to smaller, busier rug patterns.
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