Many design experts say a rug is the one investment you should always make in any interior. This humble decor item is loved by many, and with good reason: It steals the show. Here is their advice on cleaning methods, the most common small-rug styling mistakes, and the secret to layering.
Q: What’s the number one cleaning mistake people make with rugs?
A: It’s counterintuitive, but the worst mistake people make when cleaning rugs is using store-bought stain removers. They ruin the rug, eat up the natural fibers and discolor the area where the stain was. Don’t use harsh cleaners! Sometimes the more natural the solution, the better. That said, if a spill or stain is really bad, turn to the pros and don’t try to fix yourself.
Q: What is the best way to clean a rug when there’s a spill?
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A: First blot the area — do not rub in — then douse with water and blot again until all of the liquid has been removed. If the stain persists, have the rug professionally cleaned. Try to absorb as much of the liquid as possible with a clean, dry cloth.
Q: How should small rugs be used?
A: They should be layered over inexpensive sisal. Using small rugs in bedrooms on either side of the bed is common in Europe and highly attractive. Also, drape flatweave and some low pile antiques over coffee tables, chairs, and sometimes on the end of the bed. It adds a great, unexpected detail and bit of color. Layer, layer, layer! A few inexpensive rugs layered over each other can achieve an attractive look. Have fun with it, and play. You might have the best success when you pick a common color or style of weave to mix together. You can also layer small, special-vintage pieces on top of a larger sisal rug for a tailored finished look. Try to stick with similar colors within the rug, and try not to have too many competing patterns.
Q: Do you need to be more careful with vintage/antique rugs? Why or why not?
A: Antique and vintage rugs, if they have been properly cared for, are the most durable because of the fabrics used, mostly wool, and the nature of how the rugs wear. They are easier to clean and also hide dirt easily. Vintage antique rugs can be more delicate, so be careful not to snag or do anything that could rip a hole, but using these rugs to their fullest potential makes them look more rustic and worn, which some people like.
Q:: What are some of other common styling mistakes people make with rugs?
A: Using a rug that is too small for a space. In a living room, do not buy a rug that just fits under your coffee table; that can make the entire room feel disjointed and cheapen the look of the design. You want a rug that will lie at least under the front legs of your sofa, and allow for your coffee table and accent chairs to sit on the rug as well. In a dining room, all of the dining chairs should sit on the rug and have at least a foot of space behind the chair when pushed in.
Q: What are some things people don’t know but should about rugs?
A: Wool is the most durable fiber and has natural lanolin, which makes it naturally stain resistant. It’s best to vacuum with a suction-only setting on your vacuum cleaner to keep fiber from being pulled and damaged. This is especially true with high-pile Moroccan rugs and shags. A hand-knotted rug that is 100 knots a square inch or higher takes about four months to make and can last for over 100 years.
Q: When do you need a rug pad, and why?
A: On flatweaves and light low-pile rugs. The light nature of flatweaves and low-pile rugs can cause them to move underfoot, causing you or your guest to slip and fall, even when placed under heavy furniture. It’s always best to err on the side of using a rug pad for safety reasons. Some experts say all rugs need a pad.