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Lie like a rug

Area rugs can change up a space in a snap with minimal effort or cost. A rug can be an art piece that adds dazzle to a drab room or a blank canvas that highlights unique pieces in the room.

Plucking an area rug from a catalog or from a store isn’t a simple endeavor. There are a wide variety of materials, designs, heights and colors to choose from, and each requires a certain amount of care to keep them in tip-top shape.

“The right area rug can bring color and texture to a room, add warmth and set up a separate seating area to better define a space,” said Cameron Capel, president of sales and marketing for Capel Rugs.

Tried and true neutral colors continue to pop up on area rug designs, but the faux fade fad is not as robust as it was a few years ago.

“High-low (shag) and easy-care rugs, as in polypropylene, that can be used indoors or outdoors are popular,” Capel said.“Blues and gray are here to stay, and more color is creeping back in as well.”

Rugs with natural fibers and organic dyes are making their way onto more floors as consumers consider the origin and life cycle of the art piece they will install on their floor.

Design factors

Once you’ve completed the hard work of finding the best material, color and style for your area, there are still a few important design factors to consider.

“I’ve had people ask if they should buy it to go under the couch or 6 inches from the edge of the couch or should the rug be centered,” Capel said. “I’m always surprised how many questions I get on what size of an area rug to buy for a space and how to position it.”

There seem to be two areas of thought regarding how to place a rug with existing furniture. There are those who are adamant the rug should disappear under the edge of the couch or other furniture pieces so that it creates a seamless flow while others believe the rug’s edges should be visible to give a crisp delineation.

It’s a pointless pursuit.

“There are no rules,” Capel said. “It comes down to personal preference, really.”

But there are guidelines. Capel suggests visualizing how a rug will be used in the room. Edges can be prone to tripping up guests, and a small rug can give a room a more spacious feel if it is tucked under the edge of a large piece of furniture.

“I tell people to lay out newspaper or other easy template to see how much of the floor a rug would cover,” Capel said. “Usually in front of a sofa, a 7-by-9 (inch rug) is the smallest you’d use. And normally it is an 8-by-11. A 5-by-8 looks like a postage stamp underneath a coffee table.”

To fill a room, try to find an area rug that is a minimum of 12 to 18 inches from the surrounding wall or barrier. If the rug is under a table, add 2 feet to all sides so that chairs can easily be moved back and forth.

“If the room can handle a larger rug, use it,” Capel said, adding that it will provide a more dramatic effect.

Choose an area rug wisely. Consider the space and the residents when buying a floor accent.

“This is where the polypropylene fiber is important,” Capel said. “It is easy to clean spills, pet mishaps and wears very well. Certainly, you would not want to use a delicate piece, such as a needlepoint rug, in a high traffic area.”

Keeping it clean

When the inevitable spill or mishap occurs, caring for area rugs is easier with the synthetic materials that designers use today.

“As with all cleaning, cleaning rugs is all about maintenance,” said Jose Miano, account manager with the locally owned family business Always Ready Cleaning.

Do not wait until you see a stain or when the colors seem a little dingy.

To keep the rug looking just as clean as when you bought it, regular vacuuming is a must. Make sure that the level on your vacuum is set to the correct height, according to the thickness of the area rug.

“In my home, we have a rug in the family room that is very different from the rug in the living room,” Miano said. “We have to adjust the height of the vacuum for each rug.”

For rugs in high-traffic areas, Always Ready Cleaning recommends vacuuming once a week. If the rug is not in a high-traffic area, vacuuming once every two weeks is adequate.

When a spot pops up on the pristine rug, consider cleaning solution options before reaching for the first chemical spot remover.

“We never recommend buying an over-the-counter carpet cleaner,” Miano said. “Harsh chemicals will often leave their mark on the spot that you clean, resulting in a shadow. (It) looks like the spot is coming back. In all reality, you put the spot there by using the product to begin with.”

An old-fashioned and reliable mixture of vinegar and water can keep the carpet clean without damaging natural or synthetic fibers. Mix one part vinegar to three parts water as a base. Always test a small portion in an unseen area before using.

“Dip a rag into the vinegar water and then blot the spot; don’t rub it vigorously,” he said. “Be patient and gentle. For a tougher spot or stain, you can add a little bit of Dawn, but make sure you go back over it with just water after cleaning it.”

A thorough cleaning once a year should be done to keep the area rug in good condition for a long period of time. Move all furniture off of the rug, so it can be cleaned as a whole piece.

“It is important to move the rugs outside or at least to an area where the whole rug can get cleaned,” Miano said. “This will ensure that the rug looks uniform throughout.”

Clients often complain that divots in fibers caused by furniture can leave unattractive marks in thicker rugs.

“The safest and easiest way to get rid of divots is to fill the divot with ice,” Miano said. “Let the ice melt and saturate the area with water; give it a couple of hours. The water will engorge the nap of the carpet, bringing it back to the height of the other carpet.

“Blot the area dry with a clean towel, and you should be good to go. You may need to use a spoon to lift up a few downtrodden fibers, but this trick usually works.”

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