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Libby Langdon Ocean Road Design: Libby Langdon Andrews Sofa, Dresden Chairs, Jermain Chairs, Taylor Ottoman and Rock + Scroll Tiger Rug.
Libby Langdon Ocean Road Design: Libby Langdon Andrews Sofa, Dresden Chairs, Jermain Chairs, Taylor Ottoman and Rock + Scroll Tiger Rug.

I like to think of an area rug as the “fifth wall” in a room because it can be a focal point just like a piece of art. It is one of the fastest ways you can add some personality and spice up your space. A rug can also completely transform the look of furniture you already have; it’s a new backdrop that creates a fresh look in a flash and doesn’t have to break the bank! Following are a few of my design guidelines to take your first step toward the perfect rug for your home. A rug can be a stylish design moment in any space!

Libby Langdon Basic Border for Tiger Rug. Hawthorne Chair, Daniels Sofa, Harrison Swivel Chair and Marsden Ottoman.
Libby Langdon Basic Border for Tiger Rug. Hawthorne Chair, Daniels Sofa, Harrison Swivel Chair and Marsden Ottoman.

1: When choosing a rug, consider the hues of furnishings that will be sitting on top. Incorporating contrast adds depth and dimension to your room. If you have a dark sofa, use a lighter colored rug and if you have a light sofa, go bold with a richer, darker rug. An artful mix of light and dark colors will create a dynamic design while allowing your furniture to stand out. In this space, the chocolate ground of my Basic Border rug in plush Tibetan wool adds warmth, while the sky blue border connects the wall colors and adds visual interest.

Libby Langdon Whitaker Chairs, Osbourne Sofa and Norris Cocktail Ottoman and Connect the Dots Rug.
Libby Langdon Whitaker Chairs, Osbourne Sofa and Norris Cocktail Ottoman and Connect the Dots Rug.

2: A monochromatic design is also a dramatic and sophisticated way to give your rug a starring role. Starting with one color and layering in various shades and tones throughout the room creates a chic, relaxing mood and harmonious scheme. In a monochromatic design, the rug is your opportunity to bring in beautiful, subtle pattern and texture. For this library sitting area, I used a Tibetan silk wool rug in a playful tone-on-tone pattern that becomes a fun focal point yet still stays within the palette of the upholstery, walls and drapery.

Libby Langdon East End Design. Libby Langdon Latham Sectional, Chatfield Chair and Taylor Ottoman and Fancy Fretwork Rug.
Libby Langdon East End Design. Libby Langdon Latham Sectional, Chatfield Chair and Taylor Ottoman and Fancy Fretwork Rug.

3: A mistake some folks make is choosing a rug that’s too small, which ends up looking like a postage stamp in the middle of the room, that visually chops up the space and makes it look cluttered. A larger rug adds the sense of expansiveness and helps to connect the multiple pieces of furniture in a room and make the design feel cohesive. A general rule of thumb is to allow 18 inches of bare floor around the perimeter of the rug (in a very small space, you can adjust it to 8 inches). For a standard size room, I usually begin with an 8’x10’ or 9’x12’ rug for ample coverage. It’s also perfectly fine to have furniture “half-on-half-off” the rug — you are living in front of your sofa, not behind it! It can make a furniture layout too tight sometimes if you try to squeeze everything so it fits on your rug. Pull it all back a little, give the living area a little breath and some good pass through room and watch the way the feel of your room expands!

Newport Bedroom.
Newport Bedroom
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4: Never underestimate the power of a good rug pad!! This rug is a flatweave, so it’s a thinner construction than a heavier pile or tufted rug. With a flatweave or dhurrie, which are both popular options, choose a nonslip, all-surface rug pad that makes walking on the rug safe and protects both the rug and hard floors. One side is fabric/felt that grips the rug and provides padding; the other is synthetic rubber that keeps the rug from dangerous slipping and sliding. A good double-sided rug pad reduces rug wear and makes vacuuming easier while the thicker cushioning adds a comfort factor, and I think we all want our rooms to be comfy!

[This article appeared in the December 2015 issue of
Rug News andDesign Magazine]

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Designer, author and makeover television personality Libby Langdon is the creative force behind New York City-based design firm, Libby Interiors, Inc. Her residential and commercial designs embodying her “easy, elegant, everyday style” have won widespread fans. Disclosure: Langdon has a collection of branded home furnishings including: Libby Langdon Upholstery for Braxton Culler; Lighting for Crystorama; Rugs for Tiger Rug; Wallpaper for Casart Coverings, and Lamps, Accessories and Accent Furniture for Bradburn Gallery. On the web at www.libbylangdon.com.