10 WAYS WITH RUGS & CARPETS
Camille Egreteaud knows how to use rugs to highlight her favourite antiques (tour her home from page 78) and has inspired Maggie Stevenson to explore how we can use textiles underfoot to give our homes a touch of luxury
As we move into autumn, add warmth and texture underfoot with beautiful rugs and carpets
DESIGN FROM THE FLOOR UP
Given its surface area, the floor, and most importantly its covering, is a major influence on the room’s scheme, so choose it with as much care as you would the wallpaper, curtains or upholstery fabric. The colours in the design can be a rich source of inspiration, its overall palette setting the tone for the atmosphere or period you want to evoke. Alternatively, pick out individual hues from the pattern and repeat them in accessories to create points of interest in a room furnished in neutral shades.
In a large, open-plan living room, rugs can help to map the layout by providing a focus for each zone and a visual anchor for the furniture. In the dining area, choose a rug that’s large enough to hold the table and chairs, even when people get up to leave. If the floor beneath is stone or wood, this will protect it from scratching and muffle sound. A rug is the natural centrepiece for a seating group, adding colour and potentially pattern and texture, too. The furniture should be placed fully or partially on the rug to create a comfortable zone for relaxing.
When laid on the floor, rugs are usually partially hidden by furniture, but hang them on the wall and their design can be seen in its entirety. There are various ways to hang rugs but, to avoid damage, Sara Tatum, Director at The Rug & Carpet Studio, expert dealers and restorers, recommends stitching a tube of linen fabric to the back of the rug and slotting a slim rod through it, then hanging the rod from hooks on the wall. ‘It is important to support the rug evenly. Attach the tube across the width of the rug, close to one fringed edge, so the stronger warp threads take the weight, and the ‘stroke’ of the pile lies downwards.’
A rug is the ideal canvas for works of art and some makers have collaborated with well-known names in the creative world to produce new and exciting designs for the floor. The artists’ ‘day jobs’ vary from painting to fashion, furniture, interiors and other fields of design, but unhampered by the usual conventions, they bring a fresh eye to the business of producing rugs and the results are often full of colour and originality.
MAKE A STATEMENT
Choosing carpet in a bold colour is a brave move, but one that can pay off by giving a room a strong identity. Use it as part of a well-considered design, building your room scheme around it and ensuring that the floorcoverings in neighbouring spaces are compatible.
Made in North Africa for around one thousand years, traditional Berber rugs, with their graphic patterns and shaggy pile, have become fashion items. Authentic Moroccan rugs might carry a fourfigure price tag, but more affordable versions are available on the high street.
POWER OF PATTERN
Not just the ideal partner for retro furniture, patterned carpet has practical advantages, too. It hides fluff and bits that would be all too visible on plain floors and is slow to show wear, making it a good option for hallways, stairs and other well-used spaces.
Oriental carpets have had a place in our homes for generations, and cosy, hard-wearing broadloom carpets continue that tradition. Currently, there’s less demand for highly patterned carpets, but designs that employ individual motifs spaced more widely provide a complementary background for vintage furniture, while giving the room a more relaxed, less busy feel. Designs that have a slightly uneven colour replicate the distressed look of vegetable-dyed antique carpets, and those in earthy tones of ochre, terracotta and red create a luxurious feeling of warmth.
An undyed wool carpet is a good starting point for any sophisticated room scheme. Made from natural wool, it comes in a range of neutral tones depending on the breed of sheep that supplied the fleece and can vary from white to grey, biscuit and brown. Undyed wool requires fewer chemicals in manufacture but the result need not have a rustic feel, unless that is the style you want to create. Examples with neat woven patterns, two-tone geometric designs and contrasting textures provided by rayon silk – a plantbased fibre – mean you can combine natural values with a luxury look.
If the rug you have your heart set on is too small for the space, why not try combining it with others to fill the area you want to cover? The result will be a rich and satisfying patchwork of design with a soft, sumptuous feel underfoot. Apply the same rules that you would when, say, mixing cushions on a sofa. Go for variations of related patterns in a range of colours for an exotic, boho effect or, if your style is more restrained, opt for just one or two different patterns, adding striped and plain rugs in toning colours to give the arrangement a calm and airy look. Lay the rugs using anti-creep underlay to help them stay flat.
Tapis d’Avignon rug, 175cm by 245cm, £1,192.80, Roger Oates.
Konya wool kelim, from 150cm by 240cm, £465, Oka.
Tipi handwoven wool rug, from 140cm by 200cm, £259, Kasbah collection by Brink & Campman at The Rug Seller.
Khali Fire 80 per cent wool, 20 per cent nylon broadloom carpet, from £89.99 per sq m, Renaissance Classics by Brintons.
Barefoot Wool Ashtanga Silk Hero carpet, 70 per cent undyed wool, 30 per cent rayon silk, £94.10 per sq m, Alternative Flooring.