It is useful to look at rugs below and above your budget, and often it pays to reach for something a little bit more expensive, especially if buying a handmade rug that you want to keep for over ten years. The world of rugs is a minefield for the layperson, so the best place to start is with a seller you trust. Whether this is an online dealer, a local specialist, or an auction house, you will always need advice from an expert. You should use your money wisely, so decide on the following factors.
What do you need from your rug? You can buy a small ultra-fine silk rug as a centrepiece for £5,000 or a loosely woven, but thickly piled, huge wool rug for the same price, which will serve as a floor covering for almost the entire room. Be clear about this as it will dictate the type of measurements and materials the rug should possess in a heavily used family room, dining room, or kitchen. Always choose a wool pile with a good quality yarn that will clean well, hide marks and stains, and, as the pile wears down, look better with age. Silk is not recommended unless you place it in a quiet area, such as a study or bedroom, or, even better, to be hung on the wall.
What is your maximum, idea, and minimum? It is surprising how many people go shopping for a rug without knowing this. Use dust sheets or newspapers to fill the space to give you a good idea of the scale – remember the floor you leave around the rug serves as a frame, and it is essential to get the balance right. Furniture should either be just on, just off or all on the rug. Half on and half off does not look correct- but each to their own! A stand-alone rug becomes more of a feature, whereas one that carries the furniture less so. The bigger you go, the less quality you can afford, unless money is no object.
Rugs are made in a wide range of qualities, including the pile material, the warp and weft (base), the dyes, and the type of knot used. Do not confuse a high knot count with quality- unless the rest of the rug is of the same standard. It is not very sensible. Always ask how much wear the rug will take, or whichever attribute you are looking for. This is where the trust factor comes in because most salespeople will tell you what you want to hear to make the sale.
There are few things more annoying than a rug that continually moves and rucks up, so choose carefully. Certain rugs are very heavy in construction and therefore best for a busy room. There are some excellent underlays to help keep rugs in place, but the top end ones are expensive, and this cost should be factored in. Rugs on a deep carpet are almost impossible to keep still – those on wood or stone much more manageable. A heavily patterned rug will add a lot of colours to furnish around and camouflaging dirt and stains. Vacuuming once a week is all that a wool rug needs, and it should never have a Scotchgard type coating. Tea, coffee, red wine, and drinks such as Ribena can be cleaned, but only if seen to immediately. A very plain pale rug is hard to keep pristine. If you have a very sunny room, your carpet will fade, so always place an invisible UV film on your windows.
Cleaning and Restoration. It would be best if you serviced your rug with a clean every three to five years, so consider how well the pile will react to this. Silk requires expert care and can be easily ruined by the wrong treatment. Viscose and other manmade materials are harder to clean, and the pile does not bounce back well. A handmade wool rug can be invisibly repaired if it is burnt or chewed by a pet. Machine-made and tufted rugs are extremely hard to do this for, and often the cost will outweigh replacement.
Always try to view a selection of rugs in your home- different sizes, designs, and colours. If possible, look at them over 48 hours as your tastes will almost certainly change as you see them in differing light. A dining room rug needs to be seen at night when you most often use the room.