Pulling My Hair Out! I Need Five Area Rugs That Coordinate!



Dear Laurel,

I’m pulling my hair out. We recently moved and I have to say that I’m not that crazy about this home because it’s so open. You walk in and there’s a large foyer entry and then the stair case.

To the left is a living room and the right is the dining room and then off of the large entry is the family room!


That’s five different area rugs I’ll be needing!


Okay, well… it’s not five. It’s four. My grandmother passed away recently and my mom inherited this amazing antique Persian Meshad rug from circa 1920. She doesn’t want it because it’s not her taste, but I love it, so she’s giving it to me. It’s appraised for 35 large!


doris leslie blau antique-persian-meshad-rug-beautiful area rugs!


Anyway, it’ll look smashing in my large entry, but then what?

Oh, and just so you know, my husband and I are NOT wealthy. We’re more in the 1,500-3,000 range for an area rug– 4,000 tops.

Do any of your other readers have this problem? If so, I would be grateful if you could share a solution.


Meghan Mutherloded




It’s a good thing Meghan is not real because if she was real, I’d probably slap her across the room.

Such problems! Silly (poor?) girl.

Yes, I’m jealous, (of my made-up character) but okay. The basic problem is one I do hear about a lot.


And today, I’m going to address it with numerous examples of how to put 5 different area rugs together when they are all visible to each other.


First, I need a house to demonstrate.

So, I went to scour floorplans.com

Do you guys know that site? They have zillions of floor plans and I looked at about 3,000 of them. lol

Okay, not quite that many, but a lot.

They have everything from very modest and tiny cottages to huge disgustingly ostentatious mansions. And some of them have the most bizarre floor plans too! But that is a different post.

And then I came across this cutie-pie.





I have nicknamed it the Parthenon – haha!

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love columns. Make no mistake, but twenty-eight  14-foot Corinthian columns is grotesque just a tad too much in my opinion.


Still… I LOVE the house and the layout! Classical, indeed! We have a front-to-back center hall with an octagonal rotunda, three formal rooms and then a staircase smack dab in the middle of it all. It’s not 100% open. There are some walls between the kitchen and family room.

Today, I’m going to show nine different possibilities for area rugs in the five living areas, including the stairs. Some will have the aforementioned rug which is from Doris Leslie Blau if you’re interested in it. (and yes, it is 35k)


Having a jumping off place with the area rugs makes life a lot easier unless we have something else we’re using.


The first thing I want to address is the front to back massively stunning center hall.

Here’s what I would do.

I would leave the center rotunda area sans rug and do a beautiful inlay wood design, perhaps. Nothing too ornate. Having trouble finding something like I have in mind, but either a simple parquet design or maybe even a stencil. We must keep in mind the other rugs as it plays a part as well.




This reminds me.

And please, you are welcome to disagree with me, but 98% of the time, I am not fond of round rugs. Ever see an antique round rug? If so, it is probably not an antique. (I’m leaving out the Oval Office. That’s one of the exceptions) I do love square rugs, however.


The other two arms of the hall should have twin runners.


It is possible to find two antique runners. I found these on One King’s Lane except they’re sold.

one kings lane pair of antique oushak rugs


Of course, they’re sold!

But we’re going to borrow them for today’s exploration because they are perfect with our Doris Leslie Blau “hand-me-down.” ;]

So, how do we choose the rest of the area rugs?

This particular home is inherently somewhat formal (gaudy columns aside), but one option is to leave certain areas of your floor bare; especially if it’s a true open-concept.

But, one thing to do as in any collection is to group like with like.

For instance, if we have an Oushak, we might consider a different Oushak using some of the same tones that coordinate, but don’t match in terms of pattern.

The next area, I want to address is the staircase. In situations like this, I generally do something fairly plain so it doesn’t fight with the stars of the show!


Here are some examples.


gray plaid rug from carpetworkroom.com

Carpet Workroom

beige small geometric stair runner

k. powers & company decorative carpet navy pindot runner

K Powers


k.powers wool herringbone stair runner beigeK Powers Wool Herringbone


Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 3.43.56 PM copy
Today, I’m going with this cool Moroccan inspired pattern by Madeline Weinrib. It comes as a flatweave area rug but could be fabricated into an a custom-stair-runner.

4 square area rugs open concept classical home

currey and company Kermanshah rug

The rug in the family room is a favorite of mine from Currey & Company. Yes! They have gorgeous area rugs–not just lighting.


4 square home oriental rugs

In this version, I changed out the runners and the dining room rug.

928817_zpss9n6fhh1Herat Oriental Rugs

blue blossom rug williams sonoma home

I love this tone-on-tone blue rug from Williams-Sonoma Home.


4square neutral area rugs

We could keep it more quiet


spice market overdyed rug teal williams sonoma home

Over-dyed Spice Market rug from Williams Sonoma Home


4 square gray neutral area rugs
Or super quiet!

I love how this one turned out!

Can you tell I had fun?

That is a plain sea-grass rug in the family room.


J32606-Oushak-Turkish-Rug-Runner 2

Oushak Runner Landry And Arcari


4 square area rugs blue gold green

A little deeper version


4 square blue green area rugsI’m quite mad about this one!

Couldn’t find the runner. The area rug in the dining room is from Madeline Weinrib


4 square area rugs red blue and gold

We could also do a warm red, gold and blue color scheme. The family room is a smaller area rug layered over sea-grass. Of course, we could also just have the sea-grass without the Oriental layered on top.


Rug Vista Oushak runnerRug Vista Oushak

antique-oushak-area rugs

source unknown for this saturated Oushak


hampton designer show house habituallychic 068

Photo by Heather Clawson from the Hampton Designer Showhouse

How smashing would this stair runner be in our red beige and gold scheme!


We could also skip the blue



4 square area rugs red

Nazamiyal Antique Turkish Oushak

Saturated Red Oushak from Nazmiyal


currey and company serapi rugCurrey & Co. Serapi Rug


4 square area rugs navy gold

I love how this one blends warm with the cool of the tone on tone dark blue which looks a lot like the one from William’s Sonoma but this one is from Madeline Weinrib again.


It is from Madeline’s Wool Tibetan collection which is gorgeous but a lot more pricey than the cotton flat-weaves.

nazimayal antique-oushak-rugsOushak in golds and rust from Nazmiyal


area rugs in a traditional home - Gast ArchitectsGast Architects


Well, there they are! To recap, here are some helpful tips for coordinating area rugs


  • Mix coordinating patterns that don’t match exactly but have a similar feel
  • Coordinate colors by carrying a thread of at least one color in all of the rugs
  • Use small-scaled geometric patterns, plain, textures or natural fibers for a visual rest-stop and interest
  • Consider leaving some areas without an area rug, especially in an open concept layout
  • Layer a small Oriental over a larger sea-grass rug if the former isn’t large enough for the room.
  • It’s more interesting if the rugs in different areas don’t match precisely





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61 Responses

  1. Such a fun and interesting post! I love your blog!

    I need to find a new rug for our dining room and have been hunting online. Hard to do with rugs but I like some on Overstock which is my budget. They have a good sale right now.

    I just wanted to ask what you thought about black vs. cream rugs in a room? I am the one that painted my dining room BM Mayonnaise with Cottonballs on trim and below chair rail(love it btw).

    Thanks Laurel for a wonderful website!

  2. Laurel, I’ve become so dependent on you I can’t make a decision without checking here first. I learned a lot on your posts about rugs, but I need further help. I dream of aubussons, but can’t afford those. Kilims have the flat weave, but are too rustic. I am not familiar with sumaks, but I’ve read they have a flat weave. Are they a reasonable choice for a look similar to an aubusson?

  3. Laurel, I appreciate your timely post. I am facing a similar dilemma and I was actually considering writing to you when your flooring post popped up. I inherited a beautiful statement piece light fixture from my aunt. It was purchased in Mexico in the 1970’s. It has elaborate metalwork and stained glass the color of sunset. It is the first thing you see walking in the front door of our house. It makes me happy every time I see it.
    We are in the midst of a kitchen remodel and this light hangs adjacent to the kitchen. I am going crazy trying to pick coordinating lighting! I ended up having custom pendant lights made for over our island to try and coordinate (about 6 feet from the light in question). I still need to replace the ceiling fixtures in 3 more rooms where this light is visible. We live in a traditional colonial style house with low 7′ ceilings. At least one of the lights needs to be able to be walked under and my husband is over 6′ tall. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  4. Love your site, found it when I was researching paint colors for our new condo. Which unfortunately flooded 2 weeks ago after our renovation…new flooring going in today. Loved these rugs…my 2 rugs are being dried out right now….do you recommend padding under your area rugs?? What type??
    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Joyce,

      I definitely recommend a pad underneath a rug. What type depends on the rug itself and if there’s furniture on top or not and whether if a think rug, one wants a bit of cushion underneath. It is best to talk with a carpet professional about the best pad for each situation.

  5. Another rug design dilemma: The rug over a hardwood floor under a dining room table where there are children dining. There are practical problems. Chairs scrape the floor and damage it even with fuzzy things attached (and anyone who’s lived through a hardwood floor refinishing knows it’s not the cost that’s the scariest, it’s the total mess). Rug almost has to be washable. Definitely needs to be easy to remove and shake out. It needs to be large enough to go under the chairs, too. I’m almost ready to try skipping the large rug altogether (or using a large, cheap seagrass one), and putting a small washable cotton rug under each chair. I think that may look awful. If anyone has solved this problem I would love to know, and if I ever solve it, I’ll post the solution!

  6. Hi Lauren,
    I think it was on your site that I read that you wanted to know where to find the ceiling tracks that you can put sheer curtains on. I found what you’re referring to I think at IKEA. I had these kind of tracks/sheers when we lived in Germany and have wanted them ever since, but I think I’ve found out where to get them now. Check out VIDGA.

  7. Hi Laurel = Like so many of your fans, I smile when I see an email from you describing your made up person’s dilemma.
    Love everyone of the looks for the oriental rugs. In my day when I was purchasing oriental rugs, I learned if purchasing a new one, pay the price as the cheap ones shed forever. I think you could make a coat out of all the wool fur all over the floors.
    I also put an oriental unner in my kitchen. Never could hurt it. Thin pile and when it got a little funky, I would take it outside and hose it off and let it dry. After all, it came from sheep and they get wet.
    You are a delight and so helpful with a willing heart.
    I’m 74 years old, still working and a boho at heart and my home reflects this.
    You give us courage!!!!!!

    1. Hi Diana,

      I bet you have an incredibly charming home! And my mom worked until she was 92. She would’ve kept on but her brain isn’t cooperating. She’ll be 94 in October.

      I need to read up about that shrinking thing because what you say makes sense. I do know however, that in the olden days, they would take out the Oriental rugs, beat both sides with a club and they lay them out in the hot sun which is a nature’s “dry cleaning.”

  8. I love every rug … I want them all! I especially like the muted tones, they are beautiful. As I’m in the midst of decorating my home there (unfortunately) comes a time when one must say “Ok Betty enough is enough, you don’t have to do it all at once.” So I pick my battles very carefully. I can’t wait to see that website, maybe there is a Shotgun house lurking there somewhere.

    I have two kitties and I feel your pain. We all do what we can for these furballs and I believe they know the decisions we make are best for them.

  9. I loved this post! Thank you so much, Laurel. You made all your points and recommendations in such a creative and enjoyable way with the floor plan and scenarios AND they apply to a variety of budgets.

  10. What a fun post! I love oriental/caucasian rugs. But for me, they can be tricky to design around without getting the busy/cluttered look. I have bought several large rugs online from places like overstock. Bigish ones, usually from Savavieh ranging from 8’x12′ to 12’x16′ and ranging from a about 500 to maximum a thousand bucks… which is incredibly inexpensive for a large rug. I think I have learned a bit about what is out there. And Laurel, you will probably be able to correct me if I am wrong here… But most importantly for buying online in these stores is to know that there is a difference between wool rugs that are hand-tufted and hand-knoted. Almost all the affordable ones are hand-tufted. Now, this sound good, but every single one wool rug that I have bought that is hand-tufted sheds like a Biattch! Forever and ever and ever. The vac canister/bag is full within minutes. Walking on it for a few days will show huge balls of wool fibers just laying on the rug. Often when new, they will smell a bit mothbally…which may be the way they store these things until they sell. This smell has always gone away in a short time and I just always hope it isn’t toxic. You just never know what chemicals they may use for production in the countries these are manufactured in, most likey India or Pakistan. But, all in all, I am happy’ish with these rugs and they do look good. It is a lot of bang for the buck and I would’nt feel bad about tossing them in a few years when I am ready for something new. Thanks again Laurel, you posts are always fun..you are only one of a handful of designer bloggers that really knows how to design correctly and classically and not just trendy.XOXOX

    1. Hi Chris,

      The hand-tufted rugs are made using a tufting gun and then get glued to a canvas backing. That doesn’t make them bad and I have done some. However, the wool is almost definitely not hand-spun and maybe that’s why the eternal shedding?

  11. Dear Laurel, this time I just want to offer my condolences regarding your sweet kitty Peaches. I have had to put down 3 cats in the last 30 years, but my little Jerry tabby lived 22 years! My husband and I are now the parents of three younger cats who are all sweet but tend to bounce off the walls at times of course). Anyway, every pet we’ve had has been so special in his or her way…but after we’ve grieved, we’ve been able to find kitty love again. I’m sure you will, too.

  12. Hi Laurel, love this post. I am addicted to your wonderful blog posts. Followed you years ago and then re-remembered you after listening to your Million Dollar Decorating interview.

    I am struggling to find a 9×12 rug for my living room that looks expensive but doesn’t cost more than $2500 canadian (about $2000 USD). Sadly I can’t get that weighty silky hand-knotted look (like in the very last photo – those are expensive rugs!!) and don’t like the Pottery Barn style variations. So I will probably get something in wool carpet cut to size and bound. Also hard as I already have all my furniture and decor done, so thinking a small overall pattern. Do you have any favourite carpet vendors thatI might be able to find here in Calgary (Canada)? Would love a Stark rug but would probably have to work with a designer to find and that would cost me more $$$ I’d rather spend on a rug!

    Thanks!! Terri

    1. Hi Terri,

      Yes, Start is mucho bucks. I’m not as familiar with Canadian vendors, but why not at least look on Ebay and Overstock. Places like that.

  13. Oh my gosh Laurel you have outdone yourself once again! This post is amazing and so helpful since I have a completely open floor plan, although much smaller and humbler than your example floor plan, which I love. I have been planning on warm tones so am loving the red/gold examples you used. This is not the first time you have read my mind and saved me by posting the perfect thing at the perfect time – your post on best shades of white paint came just in time to save my kitchen redo! We used BM White Dove which will also look great with these warm toned rugs.

    1. Hi Nika,

      Please see my response to Heather. And I’m so glad that it is helpful! A voice told me to branch out with the color palette because not everyone wants to do blue and gray.

      In fact, 10-15 years ago, the rusty reds and golds were super popular. I’m sure that they’ll come back– not that they ever went away. They didn’t. It’s just that the sheeple aren’t doing them at this time.

  14. I am blown away by your examples. We are going through this right now 🙂 and this post is more helpful than you know! I’m a visual person so seeing your examples helps so much more than reading how-to articles. Thank you for this great post!

    1. Hi Kaitlin,

      Thank you so much for that. I think in this case, it is a more visual thing than how to because it’s difficult to explain “the how” in this case. Glad it translated into something helpful!

  15. Hi Laurel,

    It’s really getting weird how you and I are on the same page. Several times your post goes up while i’m thinking about posting the same thing. Ironically, I’m teaming up with DBL in SM LAnd 🙂

    Great post btw, I wanted to see that original carpet throughout the post, since that was what this Imaginary person had inherited, but I understand you wished to go further in colorways for all who read your posts. I enjoyed the fact you employed the House plan – I’ve gone down the rabbit hole on these sites – many times.

    1. Hey Heather,

      Well, in my world I call those “syncs” and they happen ALL the time in various forms. It feels like a reassuring smile from above. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. This is one of the hardest areas of decorating an open concept. I couldn’t figure it out and was tired of doing without, so I ordered two the same. I didn’t like the look so even at $1800. a piece I parted with the dining area rug. It now sits in a neighbors house. I’ve left my dining floor bare and quite like seeing the beautiful hardwood. I sure could have used your expert eye. Great post!

  17. What an amazing post, Laurel. So beautiful too. The rugs are to die for
    (maybe literally lol because you won’t have money for food left)) So yeah..this Meghan character is slightly annoying..))

    I don’t have a rug yet. They’re too beautiful. In order to choose the one, you need to forget the others. Much like falling in love I guess.

    Also, there’s lot of charm in waiting)) While you wait, you dream..

    PS never knew Currey and Co have rugs as well. That’s one gorgeous rug.

  18. We get all of our antique oriental rugs from auctions, just plain old everyday auctions, have never paid more than $800 and that was for a lovely old 8×10. Just picked up some beautiful runners,each less that $200! But, it takes time to find the right rug. I find that the older orientals stand up to our cats who love to sharpen their claws on them, never a problem!

  19. Hi Laurel, this posting is so helpful- thank you. I totally agree with your philosophy of buy what you love and quality. However ones spouse while coming around after almost 50 years still balks at my “you get what you pay for” especially when it comes to something like area rugs. I am happy to search eBay or crags list but I’m not well versed on what to look for as in quality name brands, etc.

    1. Hi Maureen,

      I bet his father did too! But don’t get me started! lol

      The expensive rugs (antiques aside) are hand-knotted and hand-made usually in India or China but some from other eastern countries.

      To be frank, I’ve always found it to be the smarmy end of the business. It’s the bartering mentality.

      “How much you want to pay?” lol

      I remember years ago, walking into our local Safavieh store and seeing a price tag of 7,000+ for an 8 x 10, but the price was really maybe half of that. (or less!)

      These days, because of the internet, they can’t get away with that sort of nonsense.

      When ordering online, make sure that you have the option to return it if it’s not right for you.

      Of course, one needs to be very careful ordering on the internet. But I’ve heard that people have gotten fabulous deals on Overstock.com. I’m not recommending them because I don’t know for certain. Just make sure you can return it even though you’ll still have to pay S/H both ways.

  20. Laurel,

    I loved the 20 funniest as well..thanks! I have a question and comment. First, as much as I enjoy your posts, I absolutely love that you respond to comments. It makes a huge difference. I was reading a couple other blogs (gardening and a DIY) and their were questions in the comments with no replies. It made the post feel abandoned – like hey, I put up content, but your on your own after that, I don’t engage. My question, how do you feel about slightly patterned carpet, bound and edged to make area rugs?

    1. Hi Christine,

      I’m with you on the comment issue. There were some blogs that I used to comment on and never got a response and no one else did either. So, I vowed that I wouldn’t do that to people. Besides, your comments make my day!

      I’ve often done broadloom to make custom area rugs. Usually, it’s when we need an odd size or it’s the preference of the client. I had a client once and the broadloom we did for the stairs had to be the same as the area rug in front of the front door. No, it’s not my preference, but it’s not my home either!

      It depends on the pattern. I think those little diamond Wilton rugs from Stark that were so popular in the eighties look dated. They’re often done with a floral border in “country club colors.”

      My favorite has always been a natural fiber rugs which are also broadloom unless it’s one woven on a loom. But most aren’t.

  21. Hi Laurel,
    Last night I just finished your 20 funniest… I had to space them out to savour them. Just too funny, but also informative. I always get happy the minute I see something from you in my email. But humour aside, I am learning so much and have a prettier home environment thanks to you…. thank you!!

    I am so sorry to hear about your kitty (Is it the cat on the bed in one of your posts?). Such a hard call to make. Our little fur babies mean the world to us. Veterinary care is so expensive and it is difficult to know how far to go with it…. never easy. But they bring us so many years of companionship and love. In the end, it is important to know you did your best for them and it sounds like you did.

  22. Hi Laurel…what a fabulous post. You probably spent the total of a day researching and creating this. Great ideas, as always, and I love the links you shared.

    I mostly have natural rugs (seagrass etc) in my home because I have a lot going on on my walls (Venetian plaster, a mural, cinnamon toned plaster etc). I’m a decorative painter – can’t help myself!

    In my living room, I catty cornered my baby grand piano one one side…and in the opposite dude I catty corned the sofa. Behind the sofa, I have a Chinoiserie mural. I’ve always been a bit stumped on which rugs to place in here. I’ve angled a pale Oriental by the sofa and left the area by the piano bare (just showing the wood). It’s OK. I can’t go crazy with the color/pattern with the rug because my sofa is quite colorful…a cinnamon tone with coral and green florals (mural colors blend nicely with this!) I am now thinking of pumping up the look a bit. Maybe an off white area rug (or short shag)…but what to do by the piano? An off white cowhide rug maybe? Or do I just do a rug the covers the whole area?

    Here’s a link to my living room


    What would you do?



    1. Hi Linda,

      Thanks so much Linda. It was more than one day, but lots of fun!

      I think doing one natural fiber area rug would unify the room beautifully and then you could layer on an accent rug or two like you have.

  23. Wow, these are beautiful! I’ll have to check out the floor plans site, maybe that will help me in attempting to decorate my new house.

    1. Thanks Erin. I had a lot of fun. The floor plan site are actually building plans for the homes. And some of them are thousands of dollars!

  24. great post. since I don’t blog I have often wondered how much time you invest in research and posting, its seems like it must be a lot of work so thank you!

    Recently I started adding up how much I pay for yard service, pool service, UVerse package, monthly trips to hair salon, gym memberships, USED college textbooks, dinner with drinks, pet vet bills, I could go on and on and I came to the conclusion we will spend thousands of dollars on those things because none of them are single big ticket purchases. But in the end you’re left with nothing except gray free hair for a few weeks and hopefully a healthier body whereas a single big ticket item for quality heirloom worthy furniture or rug is so unsettling. My conclusion is thats how RH, EA and the other big box retailers are so profitable peddling crap from China because they offer CC and memberships so you don’t consider it a huge purchase you just add it to your monthly bills but in a few years you’re selling it for pennies on the dollar at a yard sale.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Some of these posts take a ridiculous number of hours. It’s true, but usually, it’s a lot of fun and this one in particular was a terrific creativity massage.

      Your response reminded me of what Suzi Ormond has always said about daily trips to Starbucks and how most of us fritter away our hard-earned money instead of putting it to better use.

      My philosophy has always been to buy what one truly loves and buy quality, so it won’t end up at a yard sale. Of course, we all make mistakes. I’ve made more than I can count.

      BTW, I spent $5,500 here in NY for 48 hours worth of hospital stay in the last few days of my beloved kitty’s life. No surgery, just tests and shots. It would’ve been $500 more but I put my foot down.

      1. Laurel I am so sorry about your kitty. I never regret any money spent on my pets because they are a part of my family, even more so since my son has gone to college. Saying a prayer for both of you. XXOO

  25. I love a lot of these rugs, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how I could buy most of them with the “$4000 tops” cut-off Ms. Mutherloaded says she has. The Currey & Co. rugs have got to run around $6500, and that antique from Nazmiyal must have sold for at least $15k (I’d guess more like $20k). If you can tell me how I’m wrong, I would want to buy them all!

      1. Lovely! Thanks so much for sharing your expertise and wonderful wit! Going to be downsizing soon and was thinking of doing sea grass in most rooms, nothing in some to hopefully create more of a sense of space – too boring? Better to add at least one patterned?

        1. Hi Susan,

          No, not anymore boring than having hardwood floor in every room. It makes a great backdrop for all of the other not-boring stuff you’ll have!

  26. Thank you for this amazing post. I have been dealing with this very issue. Your examples are wonderful and your comments are very helpful. You took a difficult design dilemma and demonstrated it in a way that will help anyone trying to coordinate any number of rugs. Excellent post!

  27. What a terrific post. I don’t know how you did this, but it is amazing.

    I have to go with the first choice. Stunning!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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