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DECOR ADVICE: No more naked floor

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There are many different styles, materials and colours of rugs and carpets, so here are tips to help you find exactly what you are looking for

Buying a rug can be daunting, and it can be difficult to find something that will last. Here are tips on buying and caring for a rug. 

1 CONSIDER FUNCTION

Thinking realistically about the rug’s function in your home is important. For instance, is the area for pets or for people? Buy an easy-to-clean indoor/outdoor rug made of a durable material if you’re shopping for a rug for your dog.

A piece made from a delicate natural fibre, such as jute, is best for an area where children won’t be running over it. A wool rug or natural hide is easy to clean. But be cautious of synthetic fibres such as viscose or things that have the appearance of wool or silk because they are almost impossible to clean. Flat weave wool rugs are often a good option.

2 AESTHETIC FACTORS SUCH AS SIZE, PATTERN AND COLOUR

A bold pattern could add interest and dimension to the space. A solid colour is a good jumping off point if you are after a more traditional look. Decide whether the rug will be an accent piece or star of the show. Think about what ties the piece to (or sets it apart from) the other furnishings. You could find some colour within the rug that marries with stuff you already have.

Designer Stan Terrell who has his own line, likes rugs in muted, monochromatic colours and with subtle patterns and textures because they can add depth to a space. “Harsh, contrasting colours are nice, but you can get tired of them,” Terrell says. The ideal size for a rug doesn’t exist, he says, but a good place to start is to consider the size of the room and surrounding furniture. He likes a rug to cover the entire floor, with furniture on top to anchor the space and tie everything together. He suggests leaving about 60cm of bare floor space from the wall.

3 GO WITH YOUR GUT

If the design speaks to you, and the material works for your needs and budget, go for it. Terrell says: “Look at the fringe, whether it’s handmade or machinemade. That will add value in the long run.”

4 USE AN UNDERLAY

A solid underlay anchors the rug to the floor and prevents it from sliding. Terrell recommends an underlay that is about 5cm smaller than the edge of the rug and made of a soft rubber backing and rougher acrylic side to grip the rug’s fibres. A thicker version is helpful if heavy furniture stands on the rug, and buy castors or covers for the legs to avoid the legs damaging the rug’s fibres. Lay the underlay out with the rug on top, and smooth it out so the two adhere.

5 KNOW HOW TO CARE FOR IT

Few rugs can be thrown in the washing machine (completely saturating a rug with liquid can damage its integrity and dyes). Check the care instructions. Small stains on many materials can be minimised by spot-cleaning them with a damp towel and mixture of vinegar and water or diluted liquid soap. Be sure to blot, not rub, the stain. Hang or lay flat to dry outside.

While steam cleaners are great for fitted carpets, the temperature is too high for handmade rugs. If a fragile rug is soiled, leave it to professionals. Heavy vacuuming and foot traffic are the main culprits that contribute to wear and tear. For regular cleaning, remove the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner and be gentle. Rough vacuuming on a rug’s corners and fringed edge can pull on its threads and lead to tears. To store a rug so that it will last, have it professionally cleaned and wrapped in protective material that is durable and water-resistant.

The Washington Post

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