Hard surface floors need a little cover-up

“Great is the art of beginning, but greater the art is of ending.” — Longfellow (1807–1882), American poet and professor, Elegiac Verse (1881)

Everybody loves hardwood floors, tile floors and even concrete floors. One thing we should all remember about these hard surface floors is that, while beautiful, most do need to be softened. They are a great beginning to any space.

Hard surface floors have benefits for sure. They are easy to keep clean and are good for folks with allergies. The downsides are the floors can appear — and be — cold. They are loud. And hard. Good for pets, bad for babies. Cool in the summer, cold in the winter.

Years ago, when I was a teenager (a really long time ago), I remember everybody wanted wall-to-wall carpet. I also remember that the vacuum cleaner was most moms’ best friend and was used almost daily to “spiff up” the carpet and take away all footprints and anything else that happened in the living rooms.

The answer today to having it all — good-looking hard surface floors and comfortable, cozy spaces — is area rugs. While wall-to-wall carpet is not as popular as it was years ago and most of us want to show off our floors, rugs finish off the room and make the floors more “homey” and add much-needed warmth.

Using an area rug accomplishes many things. In addition to adding warmth, the texture and color of an area rug will enhance your overall decor. Having a bare floor, regardless of how beautiful it may be, it just not very inviting. By choosing colors that complement furnishings, wall color and fabrics in the room, the rug will tie the entire scheme together and make the room much more cohesive.

If you are starting from scratch with your furniture, you might start with a large area rug and use that as your inspiration for the rest of the room. Here are a few more good reasons to include area rugs in your home.

n Hearing shoes clomp around on bare floors is not a pleasant sound, and rugs will soften that sound while protecting your floors. Rugs are also great dirt catchers when placed in entryways. This prevents dirt from being tracked throughout your home.

n Rugs are also very versatile. It’s lovely to have a wool or silk rug in the winter and switch it out for sisal or coir in the summer. Using rugs gives you a lot of options in your space and can provide almost any mood you wish.

n Area rugs also ground your space and pull seating and dining areas together. Placing an area rug within the sofa/chair configuration will add the finishing touch and make it a true conversation area.

n Different patterns, textures and colors can certainly be used in the same room. There should be something to tie them together — probably color that can be found in each rug.

n Different areas of the home require different shapes. A seating area or a dining table would most likely look best with a square or rectangle rug. An oval rug would soften the area a little more.

n Hallways or kitchens are great places for runners. Ready made ones usually range from 2 to 3 feet wide and 5 to 8 feet long. Bare floors can also present safety issues, and placing area rugs on hardwood or tile floors reduces the chance of slipping on the bare floor.

Incidentally, you can have custom area rugs made to fit any space. This option is definitely a financial consideration but can be worth it.

Rug dealers always have a lot to say about area rugs, and some of the ones I hear the most are that they will define the area, provide artwork for the floor and create rooms without walls. Makes sense, huh?

The love of area rugs certainly doesn’t take away all wall-to-wall carpet, but I believe you will tend to find carpet more often in a bedroom than in busier areas such as hallways or living areas.

So don’t consider area rugs as a cover-up; they are added value to hard surface floors. You will not regret that investment.

Carolyn Muse Grant is a founder and past president of the Architectural and Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant and stylist specializing in home staging. She can be reached at creativemuse@cox.net.

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