Ever heard the William Morris quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”? We couldn’t agree more, and think that functional objects and home decor should, whenever possible, serve more than one purpose. Case in point: small rugs—think 2’ x 3’ and 3’ x 5’ rugs—those indoor/outdoor mini powerhouses that can be used as a whole lot more than just doormats and kitchen mats. Here’s a roundup of a few of the ways we like to use 2’ x 3’ and 3’ x 5’ area rugs:
We love small rugs in the house as . . .
- Shoe mats by the door, in the basement, and in the garage. Sure, a 2’ x 3’ (or larger) rug is probably already parked at the door, and it’s the first thing your tennies touch every day when you come inside. But we also stash small indoor/outdoor rugs under benches and against the wall in our entryways, basements, and garages, where they’re perfect for keeping muddy boots and grass-clipping-covered sneakers off the floor.
- Play mats for kids. Finger painting, drawing, squashing crayons, smooshing strawberry jam and grape juice—none of these dastardly deeds are a match for indoor/outdoor rugs, which wash up with nothing more than some soap or bleach and water, and dry faster than you can say, “Child’s play.” And 2’ x 3’ rugs are affordable, not to mention personally sized for little people, so you can buy a few for each child without breaking the bank.
- Placemats for the coffee table. Perfect for setting up a snack spread for guests, or for providing a little more coverage than a traditional table mat for folks who like to lounge in front of the TV while eating a meal.
- Upholstery for chairs, benches, and headboards. It takes a little more effort to upholster with indoor/outdoor rugs, but the extra-durable, easy-to-clean results are worth it.
We love small rugs in the car as . . .
- Seat covers. How many times have your kids, pets, or a well-meaning friend who insisted on enjoying a vat of coffee in the car made a mess of your upholstery? The answer, dear readers, is indoor/outdoor rugs. We drape a 4’ x 6’ indoor/outdoor rug over the top of the backseat and tuck it into the break between the seat back and seat—voilà, a pet-proof car seat. For the front seat, we opt for a pair of 2’ x 3’s, one propped against the seat back and one draped over the seat, to provide extra coverage against food and drink spills.
- Cargo-area covers. This is one of our favorite uses for an indoor/outdoor rug, because they’re much tougher and yet lighter weight than most of the accessories sold as cargo-bay protectors. Just pop a 4’ x 6’ rug in the back (if it’s too big, simply prop the edges up against the sides of the cargo bay), and you’ll never again have to worry about hauling a leaky juice container, broken eggs, greasy lawn equipment, dirt-covered hiking gear, or sandy beach toys. A simple shake off or scrub-and-squirt are all that’s needed to make the rug look new again.
We love small rugs for pets as . . .
- Food-bowl mats. We don’t know about your pets, but ours could Jackson Pollack an entire floor with their dinner. Keep these four-footed artists in check by popping a 2’ x 3’ under their food and water bowls to protect your wood floors and make cleanup a snap.
- Crate liners. It’s no secret that dogs appreciate cushy layers to lie on. For our dogs’ crates, we start with a puppy pad on the bottom, followed by an indoor/outdoor rug, and topped with their favorite washable fleece or padded cotton bedding. The small rug helps keep the puppy pad in place, especially for diggers, so you won’t end up with any leaky accidents outside the crate.
- Training mat. If you’re clicker-training your dog to “go to place,” a 3’ x 5’ rug (or 2’ x 3’ for smaller breeds) is your new best friend. Then check out these tips from trainer Karen Pryor for how to make the rug seem like the best-ever spot in the house.