I Hate My New Area Rug But My Decorator Thinks It’s Fabulous!


Dear Laurel,

I’m hoping that you can turn this into a post. It’s about my new area rug.

It’s for our large living/great room.

This is the look I was going for. Every since you did that post a few months ago about getting the Mark D Sikes look, I’ve been drooling over his living room… In fact, I’ve drooled so much that I collect it in a bucket and use it to water the garden!

Here are some more rooms that I love.

Suzanne Kasler Oushak area rug layered over seagrass in a gorgeous bedroom

Suzanne Kasler


Michael Hampton


Giannetti Home Oushak area rug

Giannetti Home

Patricia McLean Oushak area rug

Patricia McLean


I hired a decorator to help me achieve this. (not Patricia McLean. I wish!)

She seemed nice enough, but she’s only been in business two years and I should’ve gotten someone with more experience.


My tale of woe.


We decided to do an area rug for our great room which measures 18 x 24. I really was hoping to do a beautiful Oushak area rug but my decorator, I’ll call her Dee said that wouldn’t be possible because there needs to be a one-foot perimeter of wood showing, all the way around the room.

Plus there’s a cut-out for the fireplace.

That means that we needed a 16′ x 22′ area rug and that it would need to be custom-made from broadloom.

And let me tell you that this rug is bloody expensive. By the time it was fabricated with the surged binding, the rug pad, delivery and spread plus sales tax, the cost was $7,500.00

And Laurel, I hate it. I hate this area rug.


I realize that I must sound like a whiny, entitled shrew, but my husband and I (we’re both college professors) have worked very hard for the last 20 years and I thought that we were doing everything right by hiring a professional decorator.

We ended up with a pattern that looked nice in the 12″ x 18″ sample, but multiply that by 200 and it’s so not what I wanted, I just can’t tell you.

And there’s a big fat seam because the broadloom is only 12 feet wide. I was told that it would hardly be noticeable if at all.

Ha! That’s a crock! You can see it before you even enter the room!

Where did we go wrong? And how on earth am I going to fix this?

Oh, did I tell you that our very “nice” decorator Dee didn’t want to hear about her mistake. I was quite dubious from the get-go. She talked me into that rug. She said that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and said that it would be “fabulous.”

She waltzed in yesterday and proclaimed.



When I told her that I was quite unhappy with the rug, she looked at me like I had just told her that her baby was fat and ugly. (he kind of is, but I would never say that)

“Oh, you just need to adjust,” she said.

I see… Well, I guess she’s going to need to adjust to the fact that I’m firing her. Stat!

Thanks for any insight you can provide. Hopefully, there’s something here that will be of interest to other readers.

Patricia Peshawar-Mashad


Okay— I’ve done a LOT of area rugs over the years. Big, little, custom, non-custom.

And there are some myths that I need to clear up right now in regard to the one-foot away from the wall area rug rule.

While sometimes it is a good rule of thumb to leave a one foot margin of wood around the room, quite often, that is not the case.

And the larger the room, the more that’s apt to be true.

The other thing I’ve learned is when in doubt, go a size down.


Myth number two about furniture and the area rug


All of the furniture legs need to be sitting 100% on the rug.

Sure, most of the time, but it is not critical. (please see below)


Oushak area rug for Ballard Designs by Suzanne Kasler

Suzanne Kasler for Ballard Designs


But what you do want to avoid are tables and case pieces half on and half off the rug.

BTW, this is another topic, but something I learned over the years is that when you get a cabinet delivered and the doors are all wonky and the legs are wobbly— 98% of the time, it is NOT the cabinet.

It’s the floor. uh huh. But yes, the doors, drawers, etc. very often require adjusting.


Back to the topic at hand. The area rug.


In addition, you don’t want to create a situation where you need to walk several feet with one foot on the rug and the other foot on the floor. Therefore, when planning out the room, the size of the rug needs to be adjusted one way or the other.

In the case of a very small room with a lot of built-ins. We might do an area rug and only leave 6″-8″ of wood margin showing.


Now, let’s examine Patricia’s great room.


Of course, I haven’t seen it, but I’ve done area rugs for many great rooms.

Ahhhhhh… Wait. the discussion of Patricia’s tale of woe will have to simmer for a sec.


it’s time for a story.


A true story… way back in the year 2000. I had seen in a magazine where the designer had taken two or three bound seagrass rugs and butted them up together to make one big rug.

Mark D Sikes layered area rug for Southern Living showhouse
It was very much like in Mark D Sike’s showhouse room; only this is jute instead of seagrass.

I thought, “how cool!” And my client liked the idea too.

So, that’s what I did. I had made for her three 6 feet x 18 feet area rugs.

I was there for installation day.

The installer was concerned that the rugs would slip and thought that he should put some heavy-duty double-stick tape underneath the rug and taped to the floor.

I had figured that the heavy furniture would be enough and the rug pad, but he said no.

The room was formerly the garage and the floor was newly refinished. But it had been drying for a few weeks.

I said, “okay.”

After all, he was the expert.

Fast forward a couple of months later.

I was at the house and the client who was as nice as can be said that something was wrong with the rugs. They kept buckling and there were gaps in places where the rugs were supposed to be sitting snuggly next to each other.

I’m starting to quietly FREAK OUT and then I crouched down to lift up a corner of one of the rugs to see if I could budge it and to my horror, there was a thick gunky residue of double-stick tape glue.

Think a dehydrated Alien.

Oh man… How much is this going to cost me???

It could’ve been worse. The floor was not wrecked in the slightest, but I was a nervous wreck until the guy came back and got the glue off the floor.

Then, the rugs had to get picked up and taken to a fabricator and he SEWED THE THREE RUGS TOGETHER.

With pick up, delivery and spread, plus the labor, I seem to recall that it was close to $1,500.

But after that, everything was just fine. Lesson learned.

Another time about ten years ago, a client demanded that I cut down her living room seagrass rug. I really thought that it was fine, but she was insistent.

Of course, one can go too small, too.

But we know the remedy for that.


If it’s a living room, usually, we need to leave about 18″-24″ around the perimeter to allow for tables and whatnot.

That is unless there are built-ins. Then it might be only one foot.


And more often than not, the sofa is actually not on the area rug at all, or just by a few inches. (the front legs) That way, we don’t have to deal with the end tables being half on and half off the rug.


Now, let’s take a look again at Patricia’s room and what her options are with her area rug.


First, I would live with it for a few weeks, because sometimes there is an adjustment period when you get something new and it’s a big thing.

But I would never put it the way that Dee Decorator did!

If after a month, the area rug is still despised, I would strongly consider selling it. Or giving it to charity. Or something.


In further exploration of Patricia’s situation; did she need a custom area rug?


Probably not.

Her room is quite wide and when I have a room that’s really big and square-ish and wide, I always float the sofa. Always. Unless there’s a back to back sofa situation. But that’s floated too.

So, in all likelihood, a 10′ x 14′ standard size rug would’ve been truly fabulous! Or maybe even a 9 x 12 or some other size.

And then again, she could’ve done a smaller area rug and layered it over sea grass or jute, like Mark’s rug in his showhouse room.

The thing about Oushak reproduction rugs is that they can get very expensive. The real antiques are out of the question for 99.999% of us.

But, I found some great buys on Overstock and Wayfair.

My favorite rug vendor on Overstock is Herat.

And so far, my favorite vendor on Wayfair is Darya

Just beautiful. Oh, and a lot of the rugs on Overstock at Herat are on sale for the two more days only. Actually, I believe that the sale is site-wide.

In the meantime, since I too, love these pale tone on tone rugs, I put together a bunch of them for you.

For more information about any of them and to see them up close, please click on the individual images.




A few notes. Lots of places sell seagrass area rugs. Here’s a whole page of ’em on Overstock.

And most of them are on sale right now.


Speaking of sales.


Please don’t forget. Only 24 hours for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

And two more days for the fabulous Serena and Lily Tent Sale.


And this morning, since I subscribe to S&L news updates, they sent me a code to get another 15% off of their already hugely discounted prices!

Here’s the code:


Of course, there are many other fabulous sales going on. You can find out about some of them on the hot sales page.


Well, I’m sure that there will be more questions concerning area rugs.

Fire away, but please any questions need to be for the benefit of everyone.

Thanks so much!


45 Responses

  1. Hi Laurel, fabulous post,as usual 😀I just wanted to say that I can whole heartedly recommend Ballard Designs jute rugs!! I ordered three recently in various sizes and the texture is heavenly!! They are so soft and feel fabulous with bare feet!! The prices are so affordable too. Also…. I just can’t say enough about your incredible sense of style, love it!!

  2. Overstock and Amazon are both great sources for inexpensive natural fiber rugs. However, many that are labeled seagrass are actually sisal or a sisal/sea grass blend. One I have from nuLoom is a blend. It does have some staining, but not nearly as much as I’d expect for the terrific amount of abuse my army of small children has put it through. All in all, it’s held up well enough that I would buy it again and would certainly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t plan on throwing mashed bananas, baby puke, etc. all over it while either halfheartedly spot cleaning it or just soaking it with carpet cleaner. Guilty. But they are great, versatile rugs and look great even layered with a plain Jane solid color high-pile rug. You get a lot of square footage out of them for very little money.

  3. Dear Laurel:

    There are some very large, beautiful rugs on eBay (including the very popular “faded Persian” look) that are much less expensive than the antiques that would set you back ~ $10K in this size (12 x 20 or larger). And most offer relatively inexpensive shipping. Chairish also has terrific resources for large rugs.
    Thanks for all of your good advice.

  4. I looked at the rugs you featured and have done much better at estate sales and consignment stores.
    It’s unfortunate consumers are turning away from the old classic Persians because it’s not in fashion. Classics are classics.
    I’ve bought several antique Persians over 100 years old hand knotted for my home. II know they’re not in style you don’t see Mark Sikes using them but the patina and craftsmanship can’t be beat. I bought a 12×15 hand knotted Persian from Iran at an auction in Dallas for $1500. Took it to Pande Cameron in Seattle for a cleaning, the owner said I got a very good deal would be $15k in his store

  5. saw a magazine at the fitness center that talked about layering rugs. Seem to recall an article about a Ralph Lauren employee that had a place out west and she was layering her “Navajo” rugs. Another looked I really liked that I saw in a magazine once was getting a canvas-like drop cloth and spattering paint on it for a splatterware -effect rug. I can see the problem, it looks good in a small sample but looks entirely different in real life. Once I took a woven tablecloth and used it as an area rug. Nobody knew the difference. Whatever works!!

  6. Patricia,

    I too have hired a decorator before and ended up hating the end product. And I also completely understand about it being real money that you feel has been wasted that you have worked hard for years to have the luxury of spending.

    Laurel could you educate us all on how to better conduct ourselves as clients and customers to better avoid this type misunderstanding, and achieve better results? And what recourse do we have as clients, and how is the best way to communicate displeasure in the end result, and salvage the project and even the relationship?

  7. Hi Laurel,

    With reference to the above hated area rug;

    If a seam can be seen all the way down the rug, something is wrong with the seaming job. It should be more or less invisible.

    If it cannot be fixed, and this could be adding fuel to the fire, but could a smaller area rug be placed on top of the hated area rug that would hide some of the seaming? Personally, I like the look of layered rugs. If it is broadloom that is down, it most likely a plain, and coordinating area rug that with a muted pattern that Patrica seems to love might be lovely.

    Don’t throw the baby out with the wash.


    1. Hi Maureen,

      That is a good idea in theory, but there are some big patterned broadlooms as well. (Nourison is one company that comes to mind.) And this is one of them. So, it wouldn’t help to put anything over it.

  8. Great post, as usual. I’ve recently become obsessed with Art Deco Chinese rugs from the 20s and 30s on eBay.

    I’m wondering if you have any thoughts (guidelines, not rules!) about rugs under dining room tables? I want a rug under our round table, big enough so you can pull the chairs out and not be half on the rug and half off. But my husband is against. (I don’t defer to him on style matters. This is a man who had a wagon wheel coffee table when I met him.)

    The main reason is, put in new hardwood floors and a contractor put a big gouge in the floor by the table and I want to cover it up. BAD. It drives me insane every day to look at that gouge, and I figure a rug is cheaper than redoing or replacing that part of the floor.

    Some day I’ll fix the floor, until then I want a pretty rug. Got two other rugs in a large living/dining area. Can you have too many rugs? Actually, I’m okay if it looks like a gypsy caravan.

    1. Hi Tracy,

      The dining room rug should extend at least 30″ past the table so that takes care of the problem. The only exception would be if the table extends and it might not be possible on the ends.

      I’ve only done an area rug twice under a round table and both times the rug was square. I’m not a big fan of most round area rugs. The only exception might be if the room itself is round.

      If your table is 54″ in diameter, then you would need a square rug that is about 10 x 10 or larger.

  9. Very interesting to learn about the “rules”. Never new there were such rules for rugs. My rule is NO RULES. Sticking to “the rule” could be the reason why Patricia’s decorator got it so very wrong. Just a thought.

  10. Thank you so very much, Laurel!

    I eagerly await your blog posts! When I get your email notifications, I click to read as soon as I can. Then I usually go back and re-read because you give us so much good info (and it’s fun!!)

    Since discovering your blog a couple of years ago, I’ve learned a lot and have also been able to clarify my style. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read the post, “a home for elegant entertaining yet durable for a family of six.” I really admire the flow from room to room. So great!

    From a Long Island gal to a Westchester gal, you rock!


  11. Another wonderful post and thank you Laurel for clarifying that the one foot perimeter of exposed flooring doesn’t necessarily apply to every situation. To conclude; in lieu of a large area rug in a bedroom (namely over hardwood flooring) have you ever recommended the placement of runners beside a bed instead or are they considered outdated?
    P.S.: Health wise; do hope you are on the mend and progressing for the better.

      1. @Laurel: Have a split KS adjustable bed and am hoping to eliminate carpeting under it but still wished the comfort of warmth when your feet first hit the floor. Also it might be the solution to get more use out of my cordless robotic vacuum to attack the dust bunnies which have a tendency to procreate if not vigilant… ☺.
        @June: Am going to make templates up per your suggestion to see how it looks.
        With appreciation to both of you, for your input. -Brenda-

    1. I’ve seen bed-length runners on each side of a bed…and then a large area rug for the sitting area of the room. I LIKED it!

  12. Would have loved to see the rug in question. For problem solving, visuals help me see what expectations are reasonable for decorators.

  13. Nice post but did I miss a link or pic??? This is no fun if I can’t view the awful $7500 rug and the room the fired decorator did! LOL

    1. Hi Regine,

      Ahhh… well… you do know that the story is fictitious, right? I should say so every time because there are always new readers who aren’t up to speed with my antics.

      But, they are based on amalgams of former clients and even some of my own foibles.

      In my quest to shorten the length of posts and save my myself from certain burn-out if I don’t, I decided to let folks imagine whatever.

      And truly, it does not matter what the rug is. A designer should never strong-arm their client! If something is wrong, that is different and the designer needs to come up with a helluva lot more than you need to come out of your comfort zone!

      That might be true in some cases, but no matter. A person needs to be comfortable in their own home!

  14. Laurel,
    My question is about the different kinds of natural fiber rugs–I have read that some are not sturdy (I think sisal) but here you are recommending seagrass. I would like to get a natural fiber rug for a office but I’m not sure what kind.

    I have a runner in my hall that is a custom natural fiber that was here when we bought the house. It is quite sturdy (5 years and still looks good) but I don’t know what it is.

    Any words of wisdom?

  15. Laurel, love waking up every Sunday morning to secrets of the design world! Sale alerts are the best as well…until my husband opens the mail and announces that our Nordstrom card must have been stolen because of the amount of charges! No dear, it’s the Anniversary Sale 🙂

    1. Hi Susan,

      Thank you so much! I’m having a good time. I think if I weren’t a designer, I’d be working for the FBI. I’m only half-joking!

  16. I think you’re reading my mind! I’m helping my son decorate his new condo. Last night I was going to order the rug for his living room when I decided to go to bed. This morning, I wake up to your new post about area rugs. Last week, I was deciding about a coffee table when I received a post from you about coffee tables and end tables. Thanks for all your insight! Love reading your posts!

    1. Hi Mary Sue,

      Well, I’m quite blessed. There are a lot of readers now (last month was 265,000 unique visitors!) and there’s a very good chance that some of them will be thinking about what I’m writing about. But I do try to write about topics that are of interest to as many as possible.

  17. Well…guess I could (I admit a catty-fashion-why use 50 words when 5,000 will do nicely)…First some of those ‘so-called’ Designer rooms look Gawd-awful, and stuffed to the Brink with furniture. NO. THERE. DOES. NOT. Need. TO. BE. ‘RULES’ about area rugs! In my living and family rooms my area rugs Float just in front of my various sofas and loveseats and it looks Beautiful! WHO do these folks think they ARE to ‘tell’ us where and what we can do to our own HOMES?? Especially when we see pics of what they ‘did’ to other folks’ houses, (and it is just Ghastly)!! Enough dumb women! Use your Own voice and Find your Own way…grrrr…OK…I feel much better now…thank you one and all…

  18. Dear Laurel,
    We own an expensive new home in Toronto Canada that is fairly large. I have interviewed more than one and so far hired two different interior designers. The first was good but she is so large now that she is only taking on design/build projects and so I sought out someone else for the decorating component with furniture etc. I could see by the furniture lay-outs alone that she didn’t have a clue. I am now doing our home myself. It is a lot of work and research and measuring etc. but the end product will be good. As you know interior designers have become more popular in recent years but honestly, you can’t teach good taste and there are so many out there now who are not really proficient at their profession. They are often the ones who maybe picked paint colours for a friends home and someone told them that they had good taste and now label themselves an interior designer.

    1. Hi Lori,

      Good for you getting out before it was too late! And no, good taste cannot be taught and it has nothing to do with money either. I have a story about that too, but for another day.

  19. Godmorgon Laurel ;)! Thanks for the post. Just a quick question: what do you mean by ‘floating the sofa’? Does that mean you put it somewhere in open space, not against the wall? Thanks!

  20. Maybe it’s because my husband and I were university professors that I feel so strongly about this woman’s plight. That’s a lot of a professor’s salary, never spent carelessly. If I could say one thing to her, it would be this: if you really hate it, get rid of it, the quicker the better. Check with local interior designers and spec home builders, run an advertisement, consign it with antique shop, donate it to Teen Challenge. Just decide you’ve lost a lot of money and get a new rug. Most designers (even those with ugly children) want to please their clients, if only because their most important source of future clients is the recommendations of satisfied customers. Give her first dibs on the rug; ask if she can help you absorb the loss. But if you really are unhappy with the rug, get rid of it. The darned thing will be the first thing you see in the morning and the last at night. You will waste far too much of your life in negativity. Negativity makes any house ugly. And don’t be ashamed to get a repro, such as the one shown, if it looks good, as that one does. Make a decision and then move on. Have a party to celebrate the new room. But if the designer does not offer to help you, write a review of your experience on Angie’s List or some other local rec list. And if she does, write that too. Good luck.

  21. Another super helpful post. You educate and entertain so well. Plus I love your taste. Thank you for biweekly treat!

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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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