How to Choose a Rug

How to choose a rug

I was recently interviewed by a Montreal Gazette journalist on what one should look for when choosing a rug for their interior spaces. In the interview, I answered some of the most frequently asked questions clients have asked me over the courses of my last 41 years in the Persian & Oriental rug business. Here below are some of the highlights of our interview that can perhaps assist you on your next visit to a rug store. Please feel free to contact us for more information on these questions or others I might not have addressed here. It would be our pleasure to further assist you.

Montreal Gazette: How are rugs best used in interior design? How can they anchor a room?

Mr. Shuja Bashir: “Fine rugs are works of art on your floor. They represent how you feel in a given period of your life. When you are younger, you use different colors. As you age, your tastes can change and your preferences in color and design change. Rugs add warmth to the floor. They feel very luxurious to walk on. They give you the feeling that you have arrived are ready to settle in to your digs, so to speak. They bring comfort and great feeling to your place. Your choice signals that you have started building your surroundings to your liking and are settling in them. The rug you select represents your personality. It signals how the rest of the decor should be and how it is going to look.”

Montreal Gazette: How should someone go about choosing the right area rug for their space, what are the important points to consider (shape, size, colour, style, etc.)?

Mr. Shuja Bashir: “You begin with drawing the size and shape of the room, and then the layout of your furniture, on a piece of paper. In dining rooms, the rug should be big enough that when you pull out the dining chairs, they remain on the carpet. In the living room, the sofas or chairs can be on the carpet or off, but when you’re sitting on the sofa your feet should land on the carpet.”

“Regarding rug styles, if you want a complete formal room, then select floral carpets. Colours can be darker or light muted colors depending on if it is classic formal or modern formal.”

“For semi-formal decor. you can select a mix of floral and geometric designs. Colours can be dark or light depending on your taste. For informal TV or den areas, you can select wilder carpets if you choose to. My recommendation is to choose somewhat darker colors for practical reasons, as you cannot tell everyone to be careful. A lot of people use lighter rug colours when they are empty-nesters or their kids have left. Darker colour rugs such as burgundy red or dark blue-gray look warm. Lighter colours give the feeling of a cooler atmosphere.”

Montreal Gazette: What are some of the important guidelines or rules to follow?

Mr. Shuja Bashir: “There is no hard and fast rule. You should visit carpet stores with large selections and walk around to look at different styles.It will come to you as to what you like. Visit when you have a lot of time to spend there, as selecting a carpet is like therapy: you have to take it easy. You don’t have to fall in love with the carpet. If it happens great, otherwise, see what best suits your decor.”

Choosing a rug: indoor area rug in a warm color scheme setup in an office

Montreal Gazette: What are some common mistakes people make when choosing a rug?

Mr. Shuja Bashir: “The most common mistake is to buy carpets from someone that is having a so-called sale, auction or from someone that has knocked at your door to sell a carpet. One must be careful when buying from the internet. Online a rug can look great but once received, it is far from great. Be cautious when buying a carpet in Turkey and bring it home, realizing that it’s color and size does not work with your decor. You should buy the carpet for your reasons and not the seller ‘s reasons.”

Montreal Gazette: What kinds of rugs (natural, wool, knotted, distressed, etc.) work best for different spaces (living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, etc.)?

Mr. Shuja Bashir: “Rugs not only come in a variety of colours and designs, but also textures such as wool, silk, cotton, polypropylene, real silk, artificial silk such as bamboo silk, viscose, and some other new genetically modified fibers. Most people looking for hand-knotted carpets assume they will find wool carpets or silk carpets. After 41 years in carpet business, I have not met a single person looking for artificial/fake silk or wool rugs like polypropylene or any other synthetic fiber.”

“The best fiber is wool for durability. Pure silk rugs are available but mostly are dependent on practicality and your pocket book. Pure silk carpets are mostly used in bedrooms, formal living rooms and as wall hangings. Nowadays a lot of artificial silk is available. Differences in fibers are like the difference between a print and a real painting: you can see and feel the difference. Synthetic fibers, depending on how fine they are, can make a difference. For purists, wool fiber is the best. There are transitional fashion carpets as well like shaggy rugs or rugs with patchwork or distressed looks.”

“It all depends on what you like. High quality material rugs will always last for generations, but buy for yourself and not for the next generation.”

Choosing a rug: tribal area rug adding a warm touch to a child's nursery

Montreal Gazette: Does having an open-concept space change the way rugs should be used? How?

Mr. Shuja Bashir: “In open concept spaces, mostly in buildings, tenants try not to place a carpet in the entrance. Sometimes a few carpets are enough. Larger size carpets define where the living room area is and where the dining room begins and ends.”

Montreal Gazette: How can you layer rugs effectively? Can you layer rugs over wall-to-wall carpeting?

Mr. Shuja Bashir: “If you want to put oriental carpets on the broadloom carpet, there is a special under padding available that helps in the wrinkling effect when you place carpets on broadloom. Lately, I have seen a trend where people are placing oriental rugs on rugs. It is a personal choice. It looks great and creates a very warm atmosphere.”