Layering rugs is a smart move in almost any space in the home. Piling one rug on top of another gives you an opportunity to mix textures and patterns, which give your space depth. It can also be a budget-friendly move, if you layer a small, specialty rug over a more basic and affordable natural fiber one.
No matter what the space, flat woven rugs make a more successful base layer (they’re also the best choice to layer over wall-to-wall carpeting). A neutral, natural fiber rug is almost always a great choice for the foundation layer, and because they come in a range of sizes, you’ll easily find one to fit your space. When choosing color and pattern for your top layer, decorator Orlando Soria advises you to make sure that you’re using a rug that has a distinct enough pattern from the base layer, so that it doesn’t feel like you’re putting the same thing on top of each other.
Here are seven different instances when you might choose to layer rugs, plus advice for how to pull it off.
To Freshen Your Front Door
Your front stoop is the first impression of your home and what’s underfoot counts just as much as the door. To elevate your entrance, layer your usual doormat over a 2’x3’ indoor/outdoor rug. Adding a base layer can cover up a boring, builder-grade stoop. It’s also one of the fastest ways to add color and pattern to your entrance. Bonus points if your boot scraping mat has a playful welcome message!
To Make Wall-To-Wall Carpet Disappear
There’s no reason for you to be stuck with boring carpeting underfoot. While wall-to-wall is a great choice for comfort, it can often look a little, well, boring. To give your space personality and conceal some of the ocean of beige, layer an area rug right on top of the wall-to-wall, like Orlando Soria did with the Kota Indigo woven wool rug in this bedroom. “That rug brings the room to life and gives it some sense of presence,” Soria says.
To Cozy Up a Bedroom
Layered rugs in the bedroom bring more than just a fresh look: They can improve the comfort of the room. If your wall-to-wall has a rough or unappealing texture, consider layering on an area rug for a soft feeling underfoot. If this is your move: Go big. When placing an area rug under a bed, you want to make sure the rug is big enough to step onto when you get out of the bed.
To Double The Texture
When it comes to texture: More is more! Tactile and visual texture are what bring a space to life, especially when you’re working in a neutral color scheme, like designer Erin Featherstone did in her bedroom. “99 percent of the time I use a Jute rug to define the space. Then I’ll layer a high pile shag Moroccan-style rug on top of a larger Jute rug,” Fetherston explains. For maximum impact when layering for texture, be sure that your two rugs have very distinct patterns, weaves, and colors. Here, the creamy Moroccan-inspired indoor/outdoor rug lends softness and an airy look, while the jute rug beneath lends the look and feel of the natural world and a welcome touch of rusticness.
To Temper a Maximalist Space
Interior design is all about the balance: Knowing when to pull back is just as important as knowing when to go bold. If a room is already packed with color and pattern, covering the whole floor with a patterned rug may be the wrong choice. Instead, use a large-scale natural, fiber rug, like the Wave Natural Sisal shown here in a room by designer Kevin Francis O’Gara, to ground and define the space, then use a smaller-scale version of the patterned rug. You’ll get all the joy and energy of the print without overwhelming the room, like you get from this graphic green-and-white rug.
To Highlight Pattern
Layering a smaller, patterned rug on top of a neutral, natural fiber one can sometimes have greater impact than using a large patterned rug. This is especially true in large, open-plan spaces where rugs are defining the “rooms” within the room. When layered over a neutral foundation, a pattern can truly pop, and the border that the larger rug creates naturally draws focus to quieter patterns, like designer Rebekah Higgs (aka DIY Mom) has done in her living room. For success with this tactic, choose a foundation rug with a quiet weave in neutral color.
To Give a Small Rug More Presence
Nothing beats a vintage rug full of handcrafted character and patina, but oftentimes, you’ll find an antique carpet you love that isn’t quite the right size for your space. The solution is to layer it over a larger rug and then center the vintage gem in the space. Living rooms are great places to layer vintage rugs because they can anchor a coffee table in a range of sizes without looking too small or too large. “I also love to go on Etsy and find something vintage to layer in a small way, like under a coffee table,” says designer Erin Fetherston.
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