Home Decorating How to Mix Patterns: Rugs Edition

How to Mix Patterns: Rugs Edition

We got such great feedback on last week’s kickoff How to Mix Patterns post, featuring decorative pillows and throws, that we can’t wait to get started on today’s edition. Look at a pro interior designer’s portfolio, and you’ll no doubt come across some eye-catching rooms with multiple rugs in different patterns. Sure, the designer could just unroll a single large rug in the middle of the room and toss some furniture on top, but rooms with a mix of rugs have that extra bit of zing, an undeniable wow factor that comes from taking decorating risks.

Still, mixing styles and patterns of rugs can be a little intimidating—after all, rugs are an investment, and what if the combo you thought was the perfect marriage is actually an unmitigated, first-date fail? Fear not, siblings in style. Annie’s got your back, and she’s sharing her four easy-peasy rules to pairing patterned rugs like a pro.

Before you start picking out new area rugs, Annie advises putting some thought into the ambience or vibe you want the room to have. Is it classic and tailored? Laid-back boho? Peppy preppy? Old Hollywood glam? This will inform your decorating choices in general, and your rug picks in particular, saving you lots of time and money.

Once you’ve got your room’s personality nailed down, follow these rules for the most effortless patterned rug pairing:


1. Stick with the same color palette. It’s much easier to combine different  rugs, especially in the same room, if the color palettes are harmonious. See how high-impact, black-and-white palette of these rugs, despite their different patterns, ties the hallway and stairs together?



2. Focus on a single theme. Are you drawn to geometric rugs? Multicolor stripes? Flower-filled floral area rugs? Vintage Oriental rugs? Then choose two patterned rugs that fit within the same theme. Is this a hard-and-fast rule? No, but it’s a chance to really personalize your space by playing up styles that most resonate with you. Plus, going with a single theme will make mixing patterned rugs pretty effortless—like this room, with its mix of antique Oriental rugs.

Annie Selke how to mix rug patterns


3. Choose area rugs with a similar construction. We love a family-friendly indoor/outdoor rug, but it’s not exactly the best match for a sophisticated hooked wool rug. Selecting rugs in the same weave—woven cotton, hooked and micro-hooked cotton, woven wool, hooked wool, tufted and carved wool, and so on—will give the room a cohesive look. Again, this rule isn’t set in stone, but if you’re looking for a foolproof pairing plan, go ahead and slap that micro-hooked wool floral rug next to a micro-hooked wool geometric rug in the same palette.



4. Look at the profile. Just like people, rugs appear different in profile. Woven wool, woven cotton, and PET rugs are nearly flat, with a tight weave that from a distance almost looks like one big piece of fabric instead of individual yarns. Hooked cotton rugs, on the other hand, have a bit of loft, with looped yarns that make them taller in profile (this is what causes them to get stuck under doors). A flat-as-a-board, lightweight indoor/outdoor rug will look out of place next to a fluffy flokati or plush, dense hand-knotted wool rug, so if you’ve chosen to mix constructions, make sure you pick up rugs with a similar profile.



We’re glad you joined us for these rug-pairing tips. Stay tuned for next week, when we tackle how to mix patterns in your bedding.

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Ator Emanuel February 17, 2015 at 10:49 pm



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