How To Choose the Perfect Rug

By Chanel Dror

If her entertaining style and coffee table styling skills didn’t already have you crushing on Ann Edgerton, something tells me today’s conversation is sure to do the trick. We invited the design guru behind Ann Lowe Design to give us a much-needed lesson in finding that elusive perfect rug… because most of us know what we like and know what we don’t like, but still think of finding the one as a daunting task. Take it away, Ann!

Making choices for your home can be overwhelming to say the least, and often, the hardest part is knowing where to start. When I work, I usually begin with one given element, like a textile I know I’ll be covering chairs with, or some artwork that a client already owns. When you have at least one parameter, it’s easier to make the rest of your design decisions based on it… namely, choosing a rug. Click through for some of the expert tips and tricks I’ve learned when it comes to choosing a rug, as well as my three must-follow rules…

*photography by Molly Winters

Where do you shop for rugs?

I’m partial to antique rugs because of their natural dyes and one-of-a-kind nature. I love working with Black Sheep Unique here in Austin, who have a really amazing eye and do a lot of the editing for you. And any time that I’m out antique shopping, I keep my eyes low to the ground in search of some rolled up gem. You wouldn’t believe the things I have found!

As far as big box stores, I prefer Crate and Barrel and Restoration Hardware.  They both have some beautiful patterns and really well made, classic designs. 

Where you’re most likely to find a steal:

Vintage stores. Basically, somewhere people don’t really know what they have on their hands.

Technical things to keep in mind:

Shedding is something to watch out for — no one wants to tend to loose fur without actually having a pet! 

This is a pile of rugs I took out to my clients ranch house. The bottom one is a piece she found at Round Top and the others are from Black Sheep Unique. All are antique hand woven rugs from around the world.

Ann’s Rug Rule #1

Consider what the space is used for. If the rug will go in a high traffic area, like a hallway or entry way, choose a flat woven or low pile rug, which will show less ware over time. These are also great places to choose a darker color or highly patterned rug that will hide the effects of your busy lifestyle.

If the rug will be in a bedroom or guest room, choose something comfortable and highly textured. Don’t be afraid of white or furs here — if you love lamb’s wool, the bedroom is the place to use it!

If the rug will be in your living room, consider the way your family lives. The living room can be an ever-changing space, so choose a rug that will allow your family to grow and change without buying a new rug. Choose a neutral color with a small pattern that adds texture, but doesn’t demand too much attention.

Your advice when it comes to rug trends:

Trends are fun and sometimes it’s nice to give into them. If you’re planning to spend some money and give into a trend, I suggest buying antique versus from a big box retailer. Vintage rugs hold value, so if in five years you can’t stand the look of the berber Moroccan rug, sell it and you may have even earned money on it.  Also, if you want a cool trendy rug, you can satisfy your craving with a small accent rug, rather than an area rug.

Your favorite rug purchase to date:

My family and I bought a rug for our river home. We dug through piles of rugs together, took a load out to the river, and after a few glasses of wine we knew it was the one. Not only is it beautiful, but it carries a really great memory.  

One rug you have your eye on at the moment:

I really really really want this rug. I love the odd sized ones. Pretty silly of me to share this since I’m sure one of you will snatch it before I can! 

Ann’s Rug Rule #2

Take your time.  It is easy to be anxious to finish your home, but the last thing you want to do is buy something in a rush only to realize later it isn’t quit right. It’s important to see the rug in the space. If you are shopping for antique rugs, most places will allow you to take the rug out on approval. Do it! And while you’re there, take three or four more rugs you may not think you love — things always look different in the space. Something that may not have caught your eye in store may look amazing on your floors, or with your couch. If you are buying non-antique, most stores sell swatches of the rug that you can return once you’ve made your decision.

Lastly, some rugs have long lead times if they are made over seas or hand made. This can scare some off, but if it’s the perfect rug, three months is worth the wait.

Why this rug works:

This room needed some action. The marble floors and grey walls left some room for us to play around with color, and since it is such a small space we knew we could be bold. I first found those mid century chairs at a vintage store and had them recovered in the burnt red color. Next, we were looking for a rug to tie that color in with the rest of the house and also add some interest to the space. We tried numerous things but landed on this because of it’s pattern and color palate.

What’s your advice for those of us whose styles and tastes are always changing?

Go for a smaller pattern. This way, if you want to swap rooms or change out accessories, it will be easier to blend. Well made, all natural items are always in style, so I say go for the real deal.

Ann’s Rug Rule #3

Consider what is going on around it.  Is there wallpaper in the next room, how will this look with the pattern on your rug?  Are the lounge chairs floral, how will this look with the antique Kilim you are interested in?  Is there a large painting hanging above it, how will this work together?  It is important to place all of your materials together- rug, fabrics, woods, to see if their colors, patterns and textures jive.   Think of any open space as one complete piece of art, it all needs to work in harmony.

Click here to see more of Molly’s photography