...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Nailing down a cohesive color scheme and establishing a sensible furniture layout can be difficult, but this next trick can be quite easy and fun. {Thank goodness!} Ground zones in an open floor plan with rugs.


Designers use area rugs to define seating areas and  to add color, pattern, texture or warmth to a room.  In an open concept space, rugs can anchor floating furniture {yeah, all that furniture you pulled away from the wall!} and give a zone the feeling of a room.  Just be sure to use a rug of appropriate size.  Ideally, when used with a sofa, the rug should extend beyond the length of the sofa.  You can choose to place the entire sofa on the rug or only the 2 front legs.  This will determine the width needed.  Some overlap is good…meaning most, if not all, of the furniture in the zone should be on the rug in some way – whether that’s completely or partially is up to you.  If using a rug in a dining room/area, the rug should be large enough to accommodate the table and chairs…even when the chairs are pulled out from the table {see image above}.  Not only is this more appealing to the eye, but you won’t have to worry about pesky chair legs getting caught on the edge of a too small rug.

Besides rug size, the other thing to consider is rug material.  From leather to wool to bamboo – and everything in between – there are a slew of options.  {My kitchen rug is made out of recycled plastic bottle caps!}  Be conscious of the wear and tear you expect your rug to encounter.  With kids and pets, sisal and seagrass rugs are durable options.  For washability, cotton dhurries fill the bill.  For softness under foot, wool and jute are popular choices.  {Just know that they will shed.} Take the time to read up on the maintenance and care of any rug you’re considering.  I once bought a wool rug based solely on the {crazy cheap} price and modern pattern only to be hugely disappointed with its performance.  It shed like crazy and was not kid-friendly {i.e. no stain protection}.  I donated it to Goodwill in a matter of months.

But enough of my sad story.  Let’s have some fun and take a look at a few examples of area rugs in action.  This large rug clearly defines a living room just off of its adjoining kitchen.

The warm texture is a good contrast to the concrete floors.

The next open space employs a seagrass rug in its living room.  The black binding border {say that 3 times fast} helps the rug to stand out against the light floors and white sofas.  Plus it picks up on the other black accents {striped pillows, ottoman and island countertop} in the space.

Yet another binded border.  Notice the matching black trim on the curtain panel, too.  {I could totally live in this room, btw.}

What about you bold, fun-loving homeowners?  This geometric cowhide rug should tickle your fancy.  It’s the show-stopper in this vaulted living room.

One more hide rug for your viewing pleasure…see how it’s placed a little off kilter to ‘mess’ things up a bit?  Perfectly imperfect.

Here’s a wool rug adding some monochromatic pattern to an open floor plan.  Look at how the square ottoman is placed perpendicular to the sofa, closing off the seating area {in a good way} from the kitchen but not obstructing the view.

You needn’t use a rug in each zone of an open floor plan.  The living room below gets cozied up with a shag rug underfoot while the dining area remains bare.  {Let’s hear it for ottomans rounding out seating areas!}

This space just looks great from any angle.  Each zone has its own focal point – the living room’s paneled media wall and the dining area’s fireplace.

And, finally, a room with 2 seating areas.  One has a rug and one doesn’t.  I’d sit in either.

So, are you ready to join the rug train?  I don’t think rugs get enough credit.  Often times, people forgo them thinking they’re pointless since they don’t provide seating or any direct purpose.  But I beg to differ.  Rugs have a lot to offer…texture, softness, contrast, color, warmth, interest, definition and pattern.

For fun, look back through all of the images and pick out the cohesive color scheme and sensible furniture layout in each.  It’s good practice.

images: 1) Natural Area Rugs 2 & 3) unknown  4) Evan Joseph photography for Lynn Morgan Design 5) Keith Scott Morton photography for Elle Decor 6) Katie Denham photography, Jay Jeffers design  7) Ashley Goforth design  8) Sunset via DecorPad 9 & 10) a Mountain Street London apartment  11) Iva via Architecture and Decoration Designs



We have an open floor plan too, so I’m enjoying the series this week. Lighting is one of the challenges that I haven’t figured out since moving to our house a few months ago. Having access to outlets is a big enough challenge, but configuring the lamps in such a way that they don’t get knocked over by our children is another issue I’m trying to figure out. Looking forward to hearing/seeing your ideas!


ooh, love these pictures…did you notice the cute little dog in the last one? reminds me of my latest decorating dilemma–living with a puppy that tracks mud in and out of the backyard at least 50 times a day!

we just installed new laminate flooring (ourselves!) in our sunroom (to replace the white carpet that was getting scummier by the hour), and now I don’t know whether to have an area rug in the TV watching area or not…part of me thinks it’s a shame to cover up all of our hard work, but I also miss the warmth underfoot…I’m open to opinions/suggestions!

here are a few snaps immediately-post-floor-installation, so excuse the mess…



Carole – I checked out your new flooring – WOW! …and left a comment for you concerning the rug.


Hi there!

What an interesting post. It definitely came in handy for me because I’ve been looking at our bare floors trying to figure out if I need to put an area rug in the living room and the dining room. After reading your post I do think one rug will do. After all with the work that went into laying the hardwoods we don’t want to cover them all the way up right? Check out my floors if you find some time. Have a good night!



thanks so much for the comment…you two could definitely tackle flooring when the time is right–just make sure you have lots of (hopefully free) babysitting! Lumber Liquidators is the place to go, great prices and a much better product than Home Depot/Lowes


Carole – Are you volunteering free babysitting? Hehe.


maybe my kids can watch your kids, and we’ll help with the floor…as long as we get to go to Ikea after we’re finished, of course! ;)

it’s always fun to dream about big projects!


What are your thoughts on multiple rugs in the same space? I live in a small apartment with an 18’x14′ room that functions left to right as living room seating area, dining area, and office, and then the super small kitchen area rugs along about half of one of the 18′ walls, so it’s behind the dining area and a little bit of the seating area. The problem is that I think the living room space needs a rug to ground the arrangement, and where the office and dining zones meet there’s carpet damage from my pets that needs to be covered so there has to be a rug there under the table/desk/both. Can I use two different rugs with only about 3′ between them? I’m thinking that maybe if one is simple(bordered seagrass, etc) and one had a more dominant pattern it might work. I think visually separating the seating area with something like the ottomans in some of the photos in this post series would also help, but because I can’t expand the seating space due to the kitchen behind it I’m worried about making it cramped and interrupting the flow in the space. So are there rules for using multiple rugs in an open space?


Kim – That sounds like a great idea for a future post! I’ll work on it. In short, though, I do believe multiple area rugs in one space could work if done correctly. Thanks for your question and stay tuned…


Images 9 & 10 are gorgeous. I think that would work well with my space and I’ve been contemplating moving our dining table closer to the fire place. Sounds like the hubby and I will be getting some exercise moving some furniture. Thanks for all these posts and I’m so glad I stumbled upon them!


I’m awaiting your response as well. I have a large rectangular sized room with vaulted ceilings. This room accommodates both the living room and dining room. My sofa does a great job of separating into two distinct rooms. My question is how to or should I match 2 different area rugs? One in the living area & one in the dining area? Advice PLEASE?
Thanks so much,


The two rugs need not match but should have a common thread: color palette, texture, material, etc….pick one. If your sofa visually separates the two areas, I would be inclined NOT to match the rugs.