How to Choose the Right Rug Pattern for a Space

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A rug pattern can make or break a space. When designing your spaces, it is imperative to have the skills to choose the right rug pattern. Listen as Sam Presnell, the owner of the Rug Gallery, talks about which rug patterns to target and avoid in different types of rooms. 

John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m John Maher and I’m here with the owner of The Rug Gallery Sam Presnell. Hi Sam.

Sam Presnell: Hi, John.

Selecting the Right Pattern

John: Sam, today, we’re talking about how to choose the right rug pattern for a space. Does rug pattern play a role in choosing what rug goes in a particular space in your home?

Sam: Everything is like art is, subjective to the personal taste and I always say that always my taste is what somebody does like. I kind of understand what they’re doing but it’s not my style or whatever, but, yes, I believe there is but it’s a personal thing.

John: What should you look for in a rug pattern when choosing a rug for a particular space in your home? Are there things to look for?

Sam: I think also it depends on what you’re trying to create with that space. Are you going more casual? Are you going more modern? Are you more transitional or are you going to be more traditional? I think that all depends on what your style is or what your look is. I think that’s pretty open today and a lot of times eclectic is what happens there in a lot of design. We’ll mix a lot of different periods of styles together, and so I think rugs can do that for I’ve seen a lot of very traditional homes with modern rugs, and I’ve seen very modern homes with traditional rugs. It’s really  subjective, but I like designs that flow, and colors that fit, and coordinate with what you’re doing in the room.

Rug Patterns to Avoid

John: Are there rug patterns to stay away from for particular spaces in the home?

Sam: I think also we talked about this with small houses today and small rooms, and things like that. Again, anything with a border on it or with a center design or with a, what I call, a light background on a strong medallion or border is going to pull your eye. You’re just going to focus on what’s on the floor there. That’s going to pull your vision inward. Whereas a more all over pattern, rather be geometric or floral or if it doesn’t have a border on it, the better your eyes are going to flow out. It’s going to fill the whole room. You’re going to have a bigger feel for the room. I think rugs can definitely; colors can make a big difference in how a rug feels to you.

John: In general, would you say that a rug with a, like you said, a border around it, that type of maybe more traditional rug, does that make a room feel a little bit smaller?

Sam: It does. Visually it does. Again, it frames it, so you’re going to be pulled into the rug. It’s going to make it stand out more, so definitely it can. It’s a feeling, a visual feeling that you get from seeing a rug that has a border to it or a strong presence to a smaller size to a bigger room.

John: Sometimes that can be good, like we’ve talked about before, where if you do have a big room, and in a lot of modern homes, we have these “great rooms” where you might have a kitchen, and a living room, and a dining room all combined into one big room, and maybe using one of those patterns — more geometric, bordered types of traditional rugs — can help to differentiate sections of that room that you’re trying to set apart from the other part of that room.

Sam: John, you’ve been paying attention there. I couldn’t say it any better myself, that’s exactly what you do in big houses there, with those open concepts, is define those spaces and define that grouping so it makes it more cozy, more inviting. Yes, you can do just the opposite with the rugs that have frames or borders or more bolder or whatever you want to call it. I think they’re going to definitely pull you into that room setting in that particular area. But one thing you’ve got to do there is — again, everybody is different in the way they interpret things, but — I think you want those rugs to coordinate and complement. Kind of like art on the walls, you don’t want to trot out another piece of art with another piece of art, or do the same art all the same, you know what I mean? That’s the real challenge, it takes some skills sometimes to coordinate rugs that work together, so it’s a little more challenging.

Rug Patterns and Types of Flooring

John: Is there anything you should be aware of in terms of the pattern of the rug and then maybe a pattern that you might have on your floor that the rug is going on top of? We might have a hardwood floor that is very defined in its boards, so you have very long lines going through the floor, or maybe the floor is a tile. Maybe you have some sort of a pattern in the tile, should I be aware of that and maybe avoid or use certain types of patterns in a rug to complement that?

Sam: Yes, you should and it really is subjective to taste, but I think definitely more of an all over design. Something that’s not going to compete with that but complement that what’s going on in the floor and it’s always nice. Sometimes you can reverse directions of the way the rug is laid in the room in order to complement what’s going on with the framing or the flooring that’s around it. I see a lot of in-laid floors, things like that go around it. I’m not a big fan of making a rug in the in-laid floor bigger than the inlay that we have because we had to because you had to put a table on, you had to move your chairs back, but I would say yes, I would try to.

If you got a nice feature like that, architectural feature like that, I would definitely try to enhance it.

John: All right, that’s really good information and advice, and thanks again for speaking with me today.

Sam: You’re welcome, John. My pleasure.

John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery and Oriental rugs and carpets, visit That’s rug gallery or call 513-793-9505. Make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes, and if you could take the time to give us a review on iTunes as well, I would appreciate that. I’m John Maher, see you next time on The Rug Gallery.

Categories: Ask Sam, Rug

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