Selecting the Right Area Rug

27 07 2010

Selecting the right area rug for your room can be a very confusing purchase.  A beautiful area rug can help set the overall scheme, color and texture of your room and most work as a decorative centerpiece.  From a practical standpoint, they also protect your floors, retain warmth, insulate against heat, absorb sound to help minimize noise and provide a stable, non-slick walking surface.

As with every household decision, there isn’t a perfect answer.  I don’t feel there are right or wrongs in selecting something you like, however for some of us, we like guidelines to live within.  Whether you want an energy saving insulator, neutral foundation or vibrant focal point, here are some suggestions and knowledge for helping you to make the selection:

Popular Materials

Wool Rugs: Naturally durable and soft, these are a great choice for active homes. Many are innately stain-resistant and easy to maintain, featuring high-quality wool.

Cotton: Is soft, casual and offer high-quality performance. Cotton tends to be durable and easy to maintain, not to mention it comes in a wide array of vivid colors and styles. Be sure to look for colorfast rugs that won’t fade or transfer onto your floor.  Cotton is not as durable as wool in most cases, but is considered a good substitute.

Silk Blend Rugs: Silk rugs have a beautiful texture but don’t have the wear and tear that many other materials provide.  By having a silk blend it not only adds a bit more durability but you also get the soft, supple feeling of silk.  Higher-quality rugs, such as Persian and Oriental Rugs, often include silk for luster and shine. Handle silk area rugs with special care and only have them cleaned by professionals.

Synthetic Materials: Are made of heavy duty materials like Derclon and polypropylene that are stain-resistant and easy to clean. Perfect for high-traffic areas, synthetic rugs stand up to everyday wear and resist fading for beautiful color retention.

Blended Rugs: These tend to be the best of all the world combined.  Since they blend with wool, silk, cotton or synthetic materials you get a soft texture you’ll love to sink your feet into while getting first-class quality.

Unusual Materials

Natural-Fiber Rugs: are easy to care for and add beauty to any decor. These are materials include: sisal, sea grass, jute, coir and bamboo. These fibers are perfect for indoor use as well as outdoor use and often add a unexpected element to the space.

Bamboo Rugs: are somewhat new to the rug game, but are especially prized for their smooth, glossy texture and visual appeal. They look and feel like wood with a similar wear-resistance and natural warmth that will revitalize any floor.

Chenille Rugs: are often made of a lush cotton or synthetic fibers, creating comfortable durability. An excellent choice for active lifestyles since many chenille rugs are reversible. Chenille comes in a wide array of colors and a variety of styles ranging from braided to shag.

Leather Rugs: deliver a unique texture, and eclectic signature to your decor. The hand woven strands of soft, suede leather add a modern style in several warm colors. Leather area rugs are handsome accents for low-traffic areas.

Animal Hides: also for low traffic areas, these rugs can certainly make an impact to any décor.


Area Rug Pads: prevent rugs from slipping on hardwood or tile surfaces and protect wood floors from abrasions. They also provide added cushion to the area rug, giving it a nicer feel.

Vacuums: Regular, simple care maintains the good looks of your area rug. You may want to vacuum rugs that get a lot of foot traffic, such as those in the family room, frequently. Area rugs in rooms used less often, such as the guest bedroom, may only need vacuuming once a week.

Spot cleaners: Even stain-resistant area rugs need help looking their best. Invest in spot treatments that come either in powder or liquid form. Before using anything on your area rug, make sure to spot test the product on a small area on the back of the rug.

Always have high-quality area rugs, hand-made Persian area rugs, Oriental area rugs, and antique area rugs professionally cleaned.

Size and Placement matter

Ideally all your furniture in the cluster should be able to sit on an area rug leaving no more than 2’ from the back of the furniture to the edge of the rug and an equal amount of bare floor around the rug on all sides.

Another option is to ensure that all the front legs go on the rug.  This helps unify the space.

In a dining area the rug should extend beyond the edge of the table by 18-24” on each side.  The chairs should sit on the rug even when pulled from the table.

If you can’t find a rug to fit your space you can have a remnant bound.  3.5”-5” wide binding is most popular today.  This way you can match existing rugs with the same binding if you wish.

Other Notes

One test of authenticity of a quality handmade Oriental or Persian rug is to flip the rug over and look at the pattern on the back. Good quality rugs have a vivid and almost identical image on the back as on the front.

Good quality carpets should never have a dry feel. The wool should have a springy resilience to it. When pressed on with your thumb, the depressed area should rebound to its original shape.

When shopping for a good quality area rug, look for the number of knots per square inch, the material it’s made of (whether wool, silk or synthetic) the uniqueness of its design and the level of workmanship that went into creating it.


50 Great New Uses for Common Items

16 07 2010

I was looking at the other day and stumbled across an article that was quite inspiring.  50 all-time favorite new uses for old things.  I was so impressed that I thought I would list a few of my favorite items for your inspiration as well.

Here are some favorites-o-mine:

A Twister game mat makes a spot-on tablecloth for a child’s birthday party: Sticky spills and icing wash right off.

A toothbrush’s bristles lift away stray threads of silk from fresh ears of corn quickly and efficiently.  Perfect for this time of the year!

At a party, stash ice in a colander set on top of a bucket or a bowl. Water will drain out, and guests will get only the solid stuff.

Pick up interesting cardboard coasters at restaurants and bars you visit along your travels. Punch a hole near the edge, thread some ribbon through, and voilà: homemade gift tag.

Transform a six-pack holder into a condiment tote that’s ideal for summer picnics.

Forget unruly plastic bags that seemingly regenerate under your sink. An empty tissue box keeps them neatly corralled and ready for use.

A giveaway shower cap becomes the perfect wrapper for shoes when traveling, preventing them from dirtying clothes packed in your suitcase.

A hard plastic soap case is the perfect size to protect a camera stashed in a carry-on bag.  I used to own a Pantex camera that fit into an Altoids case that would go everywhere in my purse.  On a couple different occasions my purse ended up missing, only to be found later with no money.  However, no one ever touched the camera because they assumed it was just mints.  Perfect way to protect your valuables!

No more worries of camisoles and sundresses slipping off hangers when you wrap the ends with rubber bands.

A binder clip serves as a key chain/money holder you can clamp to your waistband for a purse-free morning walk.  As an avid runner, I have no idea why I never thought to do this.  Perfect-o!

No more oops! moments when painting, if you cover doorknobs and hardware with aluminum foil.

This one is for my dad: Gardeners can go easy on their jeans with homemade knee pads. A couple of plastic bags tied on keep them grime-free.

The cardboard tube from a spent roll of toilet tissue is a wonderfully simple tool for keeping extension cords tangle-free.

Stick a sparkler in Play-Doh, then light it up. The container protects hands from flying sparks, preventing burns.

Give Easter eggs a year-round use (and save on resealable bags) by filling them with snacks like crackers or Cheerios.  With a baby on the way this is a perfect idea.

A paint chip strip makes a dandy place card: Cut off a length of two colors, then fold.  Recently my best friend and I went crazy at the store with paint chips.  She felt so guilty about all the leftovers this would be a perfect solution for years to come!

Liberally apply cooking spray to both sides of a plastic or metal shovel before clearing away snow, and ice will slide right off instead of building up.

Give cocktails extra pop with lollies in complementary colors subbed in for stirrers.

Check out the entire article here.  All photos are complements of

Quickie-Monique and Ryan’s Family Room

14 07 2010

Monique contacted me regarding her living room a couple months ago and wanted some fresh ideas since she was tired of the contractor white walls.  Here is her letter:

Dear Sharon: We are looking to change the look of our family room space by updating a few key pieces, but also have several pieces that we would like to keep. The family room is part of the “great room” space in our home, so the look from the family room has to flow into the dining and kitchen as well. I am drawn to warmer tones like wheat, red, and rich chocolates, but I am also open to other color choices and prefer wood tones in the espresso family. The style of furniture that I like tends to be cleaner lines, but I also don’t like anything that is too modern. I love texture and details, whether that be an interesting button on a pillow to a distressed finish on a candleholder and also love touches of nature. I tend to like styles that are contemporary, French, or slightly traditional in feel.  The main piece of furniture we want to change is a sectional. We have two small dogs and two cats, so we need something that is durable and easy to keep clean.  We have a square coffee table and console table that have beveled glass that we like to keep. We also own two ladder back shelving units that flank our fireplace that are in an espresso stain. Other than these pieces, we are looking to add or change the rest of the space….wall art, decorative accessories, pillows, throws, table lighting, and possibly a rug.
One of the biggest choices we also need to make is wall color. Due to the layout of our home, the color we put in this space will wrap through most of our main level and will possibly even wrap up the stairway onto the second level. It is so tough to find a neutral and warm tone that will work in many areas!  Can you tell that we need a lot of help?!  The space is 14’x15′ and has one large window along a North facing window.

Monique certainly knows how to accessorize a room, but I agree that the walls could use a little color and since they are replacing the sofa a few other additions might be nice to spruce things up a bit.  Here is their material board:
And the material board breakdown:
  1. For the color palette, I have warmed up the walls a bit with Behr/ Pale Wheat #UL160-7 for most of the walls.  If you are interested in adding an accent wall my suggestion would be the wall with the windows that spreads between the family room and kitchen.  It will make an impact as you enter the house and has two inside corners for it to die into.  My suggestion for this color would be Behr/ Cacao #UL160-22.  Since you already have so many accents in red that I adore, I thought I would add complementary plum and orange accents to the room to balance all the dark furniture.
  2. The sofa sectional is a customized design from Smith Brothers and is a medium chocolate brown.  For your layout, you should opt for a RAF sofa, corner chair and LAF loveseat.
  3. Since I changed out most of the metal finishes in the room, I wanted to give you an option for changing out your ceiling fan to a bronzed finish.  This also includes a light kit since while we were talking you mentioned low lighting in the room.  You might also consider a dimmer on the switch so that you could choose your lighting level accordingly.
  4. The pillows for the sofa are semi-custom made from a vendor on Etsy.  My suggestion for each corner would be an ivory silk pillow with metal accents with a plum silk pillow with a self fabric accent in front of the ivory one.  On either corner with arms include the paisley pillow for a pop of color and fun.
  5. Since the curtains go on the accent wall, I figured the wheat color would complement the room, carpet and dark furniture.  I would put a decorative panel on each side of the long window and do a wide panel on the slider. I think bronze hardware would look great with the golden tones in the room.  Something like this would look spectacular.
  6. I selected an area rug for your dining room that would complement the family room in hopes that it would blend the rooms together well.
  7. This lamp is selected for behind the chair as a reading lamp.  With it’s overhang it should provide ample task lighting while adding a decorative touch to the room.
  8. You currently have a lamp on the console table and I thought an updated version to match the other metals in the room would add a touch of sophistication.  This simple lamp is elegant and will look great with both your dining room and your family room decors since it splits the difference between the rooms.
  9. This chair had me going back and forth between a decorative piece and a comfy version.  I decided you had plenty of soft furniture with the sectional and to that I would add some interest with this piece.  The back of this chair is certainly a statement and will look great next to your ladder bookshelves.  It combines the paisley effect and the more organic botanicals found in both the area rug and artwork.  I would suggest having the seat upholstered in the “Date” fabric.
  10. Lastly, I took a note from your current photographic artwork and selected something with a similar look, but incorporated all of our colors to help it blend with the room.

Since I adore all of the accessories throughout the space currently, I haven’t added anything new.  My only suggestion is to maybe incorporate in a few more plum accents to complement the red one just to finalize things.  So there you have a slightly traditional space that is oozing with sophistication.  Can’t wait to see how the room looks when you finish with it!  If you want to get a Quickie of your own, click here.

Weekend Recap

12 07 2010

First of all, I want to share a special little thing we did this past weekend, we celebrated a milestone.  John turned 30! So in honor of this blessed event that happened 30 years ago we took a big group of friends camping at Big Bear Lake.

Nothing too rural, we still had flushing toilets and showers, but nonetheless CAMPING!!  It was such a fun weekend filled with fishing, swimming, boating, dogs, campfires, eating, resting and laughing.  It was such an awesome weekend and I hope we can do it again soon.  Happy Birthday, John!!

We all helped to ring John into a new decade on Saturday night with a cake.

Leather, Anyone?

5 07 2010

Recently, a question came up at a dinner party about leather furniture and how to know from the description that you are getting quality leather goods.  So, I thought I would give a short rundown on each of the different types of leather that furniture comes in so your next experience in selecting leather goods might be a positive one.

First off, Full-Grain Leather.  Hands down this is the highest quality leather available on the market today.  This refers to the upper  section of the hide that previously contained the epidermis and hair, but were removed from the hide/skin.  These are hides that have not been sanded, buffed, or snuffed (as opposed to top-grain or corrected leather) to remove imperfections (or natural marks) on the surface of the hide. The grain remains completely intact which leads to strength and durability. The grain also has breathability, resulting in less moisture from prolonged contact. Rather than wearing out, it will develop a patina over time.

Next we have Top-Grain Leather, which is a misnomer as it gives the false impression that it is “top” quality.  This is the second-highest quality as it’s surface has been sanded and refinished.  As a result, it has a colder, plastic feel, less breathability and will not develop a natural patina.  However, it does have 2 advantages over full grain leather: it is typically less expensive and has a greater resistance to stains.  This finish also has a more “regulated” feel, so if you demand perfection in the finish (no blemishes, etc.) this would be the way to achieve that look.

Split-Grain Leather is leather created from the fibrous part of the hide.  During the splitting operation, the top grain and drop split are separated.  Split leather then has an artificial layer applied to the surface of the split and is embossed with a leather grain (known as Bycast leather). Splits are also used to create suede.

Bycast Leather, is a split leather with a layer of polyurethane applied to the surface and then embossed. Bycast was originally made for the shoe industry, but recently was adopted by the furniture industry. Most of the bycast used today is very strong and durable product. The result is a slightly stiffer product that is cheaper than top grain leather but has a much more consistent texture and is easier to clean and maintain.

Lastly, Bonded Leather, or “reconstituted Leather”, is composed of 90% to 100% leather fibers (often scrap from leather tanneries or leather workshops) bonded together with latex binders to create a look and feel similar to that of leather at a fraction of the cost.  Bonded leather upholstery is a vinyl upholstery that contains about 17% leather fiber in its backing material thus can be called leather by manufacturers. The vinyl is stamped to give it a leather-like texture. Bonded leather upholstery is durable and its manufacturing process is more environmentally-friendly than leather production so if you are trying to be environmentally friendly this might be an option for you.

Raw Hide International

Just as a point of reference as well, always be aware when you are purchasing leather goods that not all leather is created equally.  Since it is a natural product that has been seen by all elements here are some examples of what flaws to look for.  Hopefully this will provide you some helpful insight during your next shopping trip!

Anyone still out there?!

2 07 2010

Anyone still out there?!  Well, I apologize for my long absence and hope that you are ready for some new installments on this blog.  Things in my neck of the wood have been changing since spring and I hadn’t been able to catch up, yet but that is all about to change.

John and I have some exciting news that we would love to share with you.  We are expecting our first child come this November.  Unfortunately, due to a horrible bout of morning sickness I spent my entire first trimester basically in and out of bed.  Luckily, since the beginning of the second trimester things have been slowly getting easier and I spend a lot more of my time in a vertical position.  Personally, I think the best news came early last week when we had our first ultrasound, and found out we were having a girl!  Girls don’t come along too often in our families so we were under the assumption that this too would be a boy so I literally cried at the doctor’s office when the tech announced “Ziggie” (our little name for our child so we weren’t calling her “it” until she was born) would be a girl.

Here are our first shots of our little girl and if I do say so myself, I think she is perfect! (However, I might be a little bias):

So expect in the coming months for our guest room to transform into a nursery and I’ll be sharing all of our steps to making it that way.

In other news, I am hard at work with a company to help make our website and services a little more user friendly and helpful.  I will be showing more of this in the coming months, but I am thrilled about these changes and can’t wait to implement each of them.

So what you can expect to hear about in the next few weeks; different types of leathers, how to choose an area rug, a few of my favorite things will make a comeback as well as several Quickies I have been working on in the recent months, as well as, much, much more.

Since I’ve been gone so long, I have collected some eye candy to put you back in the mood for some interiors:

All Photographs from House Beautiful

I am glad to be back and can’t wait to start sharing with you again.  If any of you have suggestions for things you would like covered don’t be afraid to shoot me a message and I will see what I can do to help.