Thursday, 16 June 2011

Your magic carpet awaits

Homes and Interiors

Rugs really can solve a multitude of interior sins, interior designer Jamie Hempsall explains

It is no wonder that the Arabian Nights had tales of magic carpets, when you think what a rug can do in your home they really are an incredible interior incantation to have available to you. Whether your budget stretches to a Silk Persian rug or a more modest Ikea solution the result from including a rug in your scheme can be amazing – not to mention possibly solving some challenging interior problems.

So here are a few of the ways that I use rugs to help in the home:

Adding instant warmth into a scheme – natural floor coverings such as wood or stone can be incredibly effective, long lasting and easy to maintain. However, they sometimes make a room look a little cold and clinical. The addition of a textured or patterned rug in a bright colour that contrasts with the main shades of your scheme will help overcome this, adding instant appeal and a shot of visual heat – not to mention physical warmth underneath your foot. 

Making noise disappear – Walking on wood flooring can be quite noisy, a particular problem with upstairs rooms or some apartments. You can help overcome this by introducing a good size runner or area rug so that your footsteps are cushioned.

• Alter the size of a room Well obviously not literally, but certainly optically. The perceived size of a room is directly affected by the colours used within in it. You will find that if you introduce a light coloured rug you can make small enclosed spaces feel larger, whilst the addition of a darker colour notes will help to make large, impersonal rooms feel much cosier.

Make gaps disappear – If you have a large room and want to keep it fairly open plan and uncluttered you can often be faced with wide expanses to cross. Introduce a rug to close the gap without losing any space or adding furniture. It will also help to link areas together and cheat the visual perspective.

Help to define a furniture group or delineate a room – This is also a particularly good trick to use in larger rooms where you can create an “island” of furniture based around a rug. Ensure that it has an interesting texture or picks up on key tones within the furniture fabric. The size of rug you choose is important for this to work effectively. There are two basic options either opt for a large rug that will easily accommodate the entire furniture group upon it or a rug small enough so that all the furniture (with the possible exception of a central table) can be arranged around the edge without need to impose on the rug.

This trick can also help delineate a large multi-purpose room, such as a lounge-diner, into specific areas and allow you to introduce differing colour schemes within an area without dividing walls.

Enhance or change a colour scheme – Including a rug which heavily features the accent colour in your scheme will help enhance the feel of this throughout the scheme. Alternatively, you can use a rug which picks up on some of the sub-notes contained within patterns on your wall-covering or curtains to help subtly raise it to the fore. 
However, if you are a dedicated follower of fashion and are likely to alter your colour scheme regularly, then use a neutral tone for the base flooring (be it carpet, tiles or wood) and then introduce your colour with a series of medium priced rugs. When you want to change your scheme, simply change the rugs.

Get rid of an unwanted patterned carpet – This can frequently be a problem for people who are moving home and inheriting the heavily patterned fitted carpet left by the previous occupants. If you are faced with this issue and cannot face the expense of a new carpet, then inject a calming influence by adding a large plain rug. To ensure that this works to best advantage, rather than looking like you have just popped a rug down willy-nilly, match the rug to one of the key colours in the base carpet.

Make stains, spots and burns disappear – This may not be the most amazing use, but it can be a vital one. Stick to the guidelines of matching your rug to key colours in the base carpet to ensure that this looks an integral part of your scheme, rather than a first-aid fiddle. 

Draw attention to a room feature – You can help emphasise the impact of a given feature in your room by effectively framing it with a carpet. Draw the beholders gaze to a fireplace by ensuring a eye-catching hearth rug is placed in front and emphasise the impact of any tiles in the fire surround, by ensuring your rug is matched to the main colour they contain.

Give your flooring ever-lasting life - Use rugs to help protect the flooring underneath in high traffic areas. This will preserve the surface of your main floor and ensure you do not have to replace everything because of a small patch of wear.

To keep your rug in top condition I would always recommend using a rug pad underneath. They are terrific for reducing slippage (and for that read reducing wear and tear on your rug which means they also add to the longevity). The thin pads can also enhance the sound absorption qualities of any rug and will make them feel softer when used on a hard surface. Always opt for the best pad you can afford to maximise the enchanting effect of your rug.

Jamie Hempsall, BIID is an award winning interior designer. Visit him at or call 0800 032 1180.

This article originally appeared in the Yorkshire Post Saturday Magazine on 11th June 2011

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