Choosing new rugs for the living room, the bedrooms, and even the dining room is often a no-brainer: find a design you love that goes with your existing color palette, furniture, and accessories, and you’re good to go, no matter the material. But what about selecting rugs for problem spaces—rooms that because of their function or environmental conditions need a bit of extra consideration? Today Annie’s demystifying the process with her guide to rugs for challenging rooms. Read on, intrepid decorators, for the best rug choices for the kitchen, the bath, the mudroom, the laundry room, the craft space, the basement, and, yes, even the man cave.
Since this is the entry to your home and sees more sloppy shoes and mud-caked boots than a Woodstock concert, we’ve got two words for you: indoor/outdoor. These rugs—crafted of synthetic fibers in tight, durable weaves—are ideal for messy spaces. We like stripes for the mudroom, because they help visually elongate what’s typically a small space, but pretty much anything goes. Small sizes of indoor/outdoor rug are almost too easy to clean: simply pick them up and hose them off outside, or scrub in the tub. Bonus: they’re even faster to dry.
Though cotton woven rugs are lightweight and easy to change out for a fresh new look, indoor/outdoor rugs can be scrubbed clean of everything from tomato sauce to blackberry jam, making them king of the kitchen. The 2’ x 3’ size is perfect in front of the sink or stove, and the 2.5’ x 8’ runner works like a dream in front of a long island, a sink set into a wide bank of floor cabinets, or a walk-in pantry. We love a splash of color in the kitchen, so try a colorful stripe or pattern, or a bright, unexpected solid.
The bathroom can be a bit of a conundrum. The floor often gets wet, so indoor/outdoor rugs seem like a natural. And if your household has kids . . . or oops-prone adults, easy-care indoor/outdoor is your best bet. But if you prefer a more luxurious look—and something soft and cushy underfoot first thing on a chilly morning or when you get out of the shower—cotton and chenille wovens are a terrific, cozy choice.
The Laundry Room
For many folks, the laundry room is an afterthought—a utilitarian space that’s often as drab and dull as it is useful. But we like to think of this space as the perfect “lab” for all sorts of decorating experiments that you might not want to try in a larger room. So lighten up and have some fun! And if your laundry room is in a basement that sometimes gets wet, no worries. Indoor/outdoor rugs stand up to repeat dousing and can be hung out to dry.
The Man Cave
We adore our guys—we really do—but their messes . . . not so much. In our quest to create the perfect upscale-masculine space, we’ve tried all sorts of rug choices, and we’ve discovered two simple rules:
1. Indoor/outdoor rugs are man’s best friend. They can weather the abuse of dirty work boots, outdoor or building projects that inevitably find their way inside and that always seem to involve some form of stain or grease, and all manner of spills.
2. Unless your guy is very forward-thinking about interior design, stick with simple patterns in man-friendly colors like navy, charcoal, brown, and brick. You can even indulge your creative side by combining rugs in two different, complementary patterns in the same color.
The Craft Space
Since this room is all about creativity, amp it up with a funky rug that encourages inspiration. Think stimulating, uplifting colors like orange, yellow, or turquoise, and try bold patterns you might not put in common areas of the house. We love lightweight cotton woven rugs for the craft space, but indoor/outdoor rugs are also a good choice, especially if any of your projects include colored liquids or pastes, metalworking, or soldering.
Another space that’s often treated as an afterthought, the basement is also one of the easiest to improve with just a little bit of design love. If your basement has few or no windows, opt for a pale or bright rug to cheer up the space. If it has decent natural lighting and you prefer neutrals, try combining two woven cotton rugs in different patterns and the same color palette. But for wet basements (hello, New England!) indoor/outdoor rugs are a must.