Thursday, October 21, 2010

Floating Furniture... No, I'm not referring to the remnants of the Titanic.


So, my sister suggested that I write a little blurb on the importance of area rugs and the role they play in defining a space.  The art to choosing the right area rug is a combination of both aesthetics and math.  My sister and her husband purchased their place about 2-1/2 years ago and my father gave them some living room furniture as a move in gift.  This was a nice gesture, and the pieces were on the smaller side, as the scale of the room was not very large.  After getting the pieces my sister sent me a photo showing me the room, as I’m on the East Coast and she’s in Hawaii.  The first thing I noticed was the randomness of the furniture in the room, at least to my eye.  The furniture was basically set up in the right place, that would maximize its usage and still keep as much circulation and openness to the room because of its small footprint, but what I told her is the furniture was just floating.

An area rug helps define a space, even when in our modern day thinking of the open floor plan making everything seem spacious, so definition needs to be made to delineate areas for their purposes.  Furniture is placed in groups, whether it’s the dining area, or the living room area, or even a seating area…  I’m not saying that all of these areas, if they were all in the same space would require rugs, but just enough, so if a blind person were to walk into the room with just his/her cane, they could somewhat make out the separation of spaces.

For example, in a current project I’m working on, the Entry Foyer, Living Room and Dining Rooms are all one big open space.  The area is large enough to even accommodate a secondary seating area from the main living space.  So in this particular case a rug will sit under the main living area, as well as the secondary seating area, but we’re leaving the dining area free.  This will prevent the room looking like a rug store.  The dining area, as dining areas in general, can normally withstand holding its own in situations like this as the table is substantial enough to weight that area down, and even better when paired with a chandelier or some sort of hanging fixture.

So now sizing of the rug…  Well I generally go by the dimension of the largest piece of furniture to determine the ideal size.  Most standard sofas for the average households are about 84”-90”, making it pretty simple to say that 90% of the time a rug that is an 8’-0” x 10’-0” would be the way to go.  This would mean the sofa would sit at the edge of the 10’-0” side allowing about 18” on either side for small end tables or a beautiful floor lamp.  Then the other furniture would then be placed appropriately around that.  If you room were large enough, a 9’-0” x 12’-0” could work as well.

Traditional Turkish 9' x 12', on 5th Avenue.

An 8' x 10' area rug over wall-to-wall carpet just to help define the space on the Upper East Side...

When considering the size of the rug, with the size of the furniture, please don’t try to get a rug that covers the entire floor space either.  When the rug is down on the ground, there should be more than 12” of breathing room all around the rug.  The worst thing is to see an area rug almost going wall to wall in a tight area, giving the undesirable effect of the room looking even smaller because the rug looks like it’s being squeezed in.  

The design and aesthetics of the rug is a totally separate conversation altogether, so we’ll discuss that in another blog, but this will give you the basics to help you map out the ideal size of rug to prevent your furniture from floating around in your space.  A really great tip as well is to stop off at your local hardware store, if you still can’t visualize the amount of room the rug would take, and buy a roll of blue painters tape to map out and give you a real dimension on the floor to work with.  Please please make sure you don’t leave this tape down for too long though, it may pull the polyurethane finish off if the conditions are right…  You can always just use a large roll of craft paper laid out to form the rug as well.  There’s honestly variations and exceptions to all of this depending on the desire effect and special circumstances within each room, but this should give you the initial tools to make the best decision for your space.

9' x 12' with a somewhat non-traditional layout, but still anchors the furniture in the room in Northern NJ.


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