The Insider: What's the perfect rug for your room?


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The Independent Online

Two of my friends have been debating which sitting-room rugs to buy – one of them has been deliberating away for two years. It's not an easy decision: good rugs aren't cheap, and wrong rugs can ruin a room in a flash of clashing colour, discordant shape or impractical finish. So how to spend wisely?

Down and outline

Visualising a rug in situ can be tricky. So what can you do? "Lay newspaper on the floor to gain a sense of scale," advises Paul Vowles, managing director of rug retailer Woven Ground.

Area code

Furniture – on or off? "In a big room I prefer all furniture to be contained on the rug," says the bespoke rug designer Luke Irwin (, example above). "It frames that area of a room – and creates zones."

Food for thought

"With a dining-table rug," Irwin suggests, "imagine your largest friend sitting down to eat: make sure the chair legs wouldn't be half off the rug. It'd drive you mad."

Less is more

And in small rooms? "Pick a smaller rug, never sit the furniture on it and be careful with large patterns, which can feel cluttered," advises Vowles. "The smaller the rug, the more visual space – which optically enlarges a room."

Get in shape

Round or rectangular? As a rule, round equals aesthetic statement, while corners signify function: hallways like round rugs. Irwin explains: "A hall usually has doors coming off it; think of the dynamic of a round or an octagonal rug, of everything spinning off it, and you can see why it works."

Pet peeves

"If you have pets," concludes Vowles, "avoid wool. Pet oils soak into the pile and can leave bad smells."

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at