Handmade can mean many things. Price and quality depend on a number of factors in Laneville.
Hand tufted: A tufted rug is made using a mechanical tufting tool that secures and inserts the yarns in the backing, often canvas. Since the tufted yarns are not securely enclosed by a knot, the backs of these rugs are usually sprayed or painted with adhesives to secure the pile yarn. These rugs cannot be truly called “Oriental rugs.”
Hand knotted: In a hand-knotted rug, each yarn is individually tied in a knot by the weaver. Each knot of yarn is tied securely around two or three strands of warp yarn, which is the vertical yarn set up initially on the loom as the basis for the rug that will be woven upon it. This is a completely handmade process, no mechanical tools are used.
A hand-knotted area rug will be more expensive than a tufted rug. In addition, a hand-knotted rug made in the crossed style of weaving is more time-consuming and durable (and expensive) than an uncrossed rug.
Shearing: After the rug is woven, overall shearing of the pile is done by hand, to an even depth or to variations of textural depth specified by the designer. Shapes within the overall design are usually incised, cut around carefully by hand to create dimension and clarity of design.
Knot count: This term refers to “knots per square inch.” The more detailed and complex the design, and the finer/thinner the wool, the more knots are required for clarity of color and design. High-quality rugs usually range from 50 to 100 knots per inch. Imagine the work that goes into that kind of hand weaving. Knot density will affect the cost of the rug.
When we moved a few months ago from our fairly small, thoroughly carpeted house to our new home, we were thrilled with the lovely old oak floors. We had the floors cleaned and polished before we moved in, and have lived with the rich, warm glow of the bare wood ever since. But now it's starting to get cold, we're all inside more and the kids (and the cats) are skidding crazily through the hallways when they run in the house. Also, it bothers me that my voice echoes even in the relatively small space of my office. It's definitely time to buy some area rugs.
I've never purchased a rug in my life and have the feeling that it's like buying a car: The less you know the more you pay. I called three different experts for advice on where to begin. While they disagreed on just a few points (most notably whether or not the rug should be the first or last purchase in designing a room), they offered loads of helpful tips.
- John Kurtz, former host of the PBS show Art Underfoot, is the designer for New Moon, a rug company he owns in Wilmington, Del.
- Karl Lohnes, interior designer in Toronto and co-host of HGTV's This Small Space
- Patrick J. Baglino, Jr., a Washington-based interior designer who was recently voted one of America's top young designers by House Beautiful.
You should buy the best rug you can afford, even it means living with bare floors while you save up your pennies. Look for good quality natural materials such as wool and silk. A high-quality wool rug will wear well and even look better over time, says Kurtz. "Wool has the capacity to develop its own patina through exposure to light and air and feet walking on it. It's like having a wonderful piece of wood furniture and rubbing your hand over it every day."
Sisal, jute and grass rugs often cost less, but are difficult to clean and don't last as long. "If you spill red wine on it, that rug is gone," says Baglino.
In general, use the cost of the other furniture in the room as a guideline for how much to spend, says Lohnes. In the living room, for instance, the rug should cost as much as the sofa, or slightly more. (Since our 12-year-old sofa has been spilled and spat up on through a decade of kids, I'm using what I'd spend on a new sofa as a guideline.) Set your price limit before you shop then add 10 percent, so you have some flexibility in that range.
Lohnes' rule of thumb: Choose a rug that is two feet shorter than the smallest wall in the room. So for my 10 x12-foot office, I should look at rugs no more than eight feet wide. For our bare front hallway, Lohnes says I should swing open the front door and then measure the floor from that point, so the first three feet or so remain clear. Hall rugs should have at least six inches of floor showing on all sides.
Dining room rugs should extend at least 18 inches beyond the edge of the table so that the rug accommodates the dining chairs. In bedrooms, try runners at each side and even the foot of the bed, or place a rug one-third of the way under the bed so the rest of the rug creates a nice mat at the bottom of the bed.
In large rooms, rugs should fit the configuration of the room and furniture. Our 15 x 20 foot living room, for example, is arranged in one large conversation area, so we should look for a rug to cover and frame that entire area, big enough so that at least the front third of the furniture sits on the rug. A big room set up with two smaller conversation areas would look best with two separate rugs, as long as they're linked by color or material (they don't have to match exactly).
Start by shopping with your eyes — not your wallet — so you know what you want. "Look in high-end magazines for ideas about what great interiors have on their floors," says Kurtz. If it?s an antique it will be very expensive, but there are probably contemporary versions of the same rug.
Baglino says he would stay away from department stores ("the markup is HUGE") and "would always avoid the `Going out of business' rug sale." Look for name brand retailers and manufacturers, such as Karastan, Royal Intercontinental, Merida Meridian, Elson and Tufenkian and Rug and Roll.
Ask friends for referrals to good rug dealers. And while all the experts emphasize the importance of seeing and touching and experiencing a good rug before you buy, they also suggest browsing online to get a feel for designs and colors and trends. I found lots of options at www.arearugsonline.com and www.rugandroll.com, as well as the web sites of some of the makers listed above.
The most important consideration in buying a rug is finding something that "has a beating heart and is going to please you every time you look at it," says Kurtz. "A great rug, a place to sit, a can of paint and you're done."
What if you have the opposite dilemma: you own great area rugs but buy a new house with wall-to-wall carpet? If they're really beautiful rugs, hang them on the walls, the experts say. In general, putting area rugs down over carpet just doesn't work, unless you have wall-to-wall carpeting with very low pile. Another suggestion: If you own a beautiful area rug, "it's great incentive to tear up the carpeting in at least one room and put down hardwood floors," says Kurtz.
You can make a custom, large-scale graphic area rug for your small space. Just follow these easy step-by-step instructions.
Those living in small spaces often turn to designers to help them maximize every inch of room. Beyond skilled allocation of space, designers can recommend techniques to trick the eye; for example, taking focus off a room's shortcomings and redirecting attention to carefully selected focal points such as area rugs. Designers know that smaller, modest-sized spaces can be extra challenging to furnish since most ready-made pieces are out of proportion with small-scale dimensions. To ensure key pieces will scale correctly for small spaces, it's wise to think outside of the box, creating something custom made to fit when possible. One of the easiest ways to do this is to transform ready-made area rugs into a perfectly sized custom rug.
The key to getting a custom look from off-the-shelf area rugs is to combine several together, giving the appearance of a large, custom-sized version. While this project is easy to do, success depends on selecting the right materials - not just any area rug will work. Solids are easy to use; depending on the rug's material, however, seams may appear prominent and detract from the intended illusion of one large solid piece. Textural rugs such as shag are often the best choice since the loose fibers of the shag hide the seams between each rug. Rugs with large-scale patterns make the most visual impact, especially since introducing a pattern into a cramped space can take focus off the lack of square footage and attract it to the bold pattern.
In order to successfully blend multiple area rugs with bold patterns, there are important details to keep in mind. First, be aware of where a rug's pattern repeat begins and ends. Lay several of the same style rugs out flat on the ground. If the repeat starts and ends in the same portion of each rug, this means they will match up seamlessly once strung together. On the other hand, if the pattern repeat is inconsistent among several of the same rugs, it's best not to use it. A few styles that are usually simple to match up include: plaid, stripes, zigzags and large-scale botanicals.
To add the look of a custom, large-scale graphic area rug in your own small space, follow these step-by-step instructions.
Use a tape measure to determine the dimensions of the floor surface the rug is intended to cover. Keep in mind that the area rug should sit at least six inches underneath furniture, particularly sofas, to give the illusion that the rug extends all the way to the wall. Jot dimensions down on notepad with pencil.
Mock Up With Painter's Tape
Referring to the notepad, tape off the floor in same dimensions as planned for the rug area. With tape laid out, stand back and confirm the rug encompasses all main furniture pieces, including sofas, tables and armchairs. TIP: The more surface area covered by the rug, the more likely it is to take focus away from a room's shortcomings.
Fit Rugs to Mocked-Up Area
Unroll each rug, then lay them out side-by-side to ensure they properly fit inside the mocked up area. TIP: Many rugs are off by half an inch to two inches. If the span falls short or runs over the allotted space, reposition tape to reflect the exact parameters.
With all rugs laid side-by-side, next identify where the pattern repeat matches up on each rug. To do this, you may need to rotate each rug several times.
Once the proper spot of each rug pattern's repeat is identified, lay out all rugs together. Confirm the pattern repeat seamlessly runs from one end of the area rug to the other.
Tape Rugs From Side to Side
With the help of a friend, flip carpets over carefully to ensure they say in position so that the pattern repeat matches up. Add duct tape across the back of each rug horizontally.
Now that the rugs are held together side-by-side, firmly add duct tape along the seams where each rug meets.
Check for Inconsistencies
It's likely that there will be a few areas in which the pattern repeat is slightly off. Identify any inconsistencies before deciding on final placement of the rug; assign inconsistent spots to inconspicuous areas such as under a sofa or against a wall.
With the custom area rug in place, walk back and forth along the seams several times to push fibers down, helping to create more of a seamless look.
Arrange furniture on area rug, then stand back and confirm the pattern repeat reads correctly. Try to place furniture so that the parameter of the rug fully encompasses all furnishings. If that's not possible, aim to have at least the front legs of furniture sitting on the rug, with at least six inches of the rug tucked underneath each piece of furniture.
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