The 10 Best Places for Rugs
1. Front Porch
The first thing your guests see is the entrance to your home, so make a great first impression with a rug or mat that does double duty: adding visual interest and giving guests a place to wipe their shoes (and keep dirt out of your home). A fabric rug is fine if your porch is protected from the elements; if not, then choose a weather-resistant coil or rubber mat, or one of the new indoor-outdoor polypropylene rugs that come in a variety of designs and colors.
All too often foyers are plain and utilitarian, overlooked in favor of larger decorating opportunities. But foyers are great places to show off your style, because they're usually small. This gives you the opportunity to experiment with color and visual elements without spending a fortune. Start with an interesting rug that fits the space -- no postage stamp-sized throw rugs here. Coordinate the rug with wall color, art and furniture, if there's room, and you'll have wonderful place to welcome your guests.
3. Conversation Areas
There's something cozy and welcoming about a space that invites you to sit and relax. That's why decorators place furniture in conversation groups rather than lining it up against a wall. Go one step further with a decorative rug -- long or short pile -- that fits the shape of your furniture placement. You'll notice right away how much warmer and more inviting that space is. Decorative rugs work well in any application -- even over wall-to-wall carpeting -- but they're especially useful in large rooms with hardwood floors, where furniture can tend to get lost.
Hallways are another great place to use area rugs in your home. Place a runner the length of the hallway, but narrow enough to show a little of the underlying floor on either side of the rug, and use a non-skid pad to hold it in place and prevent it from slipping. Hallway runners will give your home a finished and well-designed look and provide added comfort and safety for you and your family.
5. Bottom of Stairs
Placing an attractive area rug with a non-skid pad at the bottom of your main staircase provides extra safety for you and your family, and prevents damage to your floor in a high-traffic area of your home. The padding your rug provides will also reduce the stress on your family's ankle, hip and knee joints as they descend the stairs countless times each day.
People often think of the kitchen as a place where rugs are off limits, due to the likelihood of spills and concerns about bacteria build-up in a food-preparation area, but there are good reasons to consider using rugs in your kitchen. If you place washable area rugs with cushioned pads next to your stove and sink, the two areas where you are most likely to stand and work for long periods, chances are you'll feel less tired at the end of the day and you can reduce your risk of leg and back pain related to kitchen chores.
Remember what it feels like to lower your bare feet onto a cold wood floor on a winter morning? Never again. If you don't already have wall-to-wall carpeting in your bedrooms, place small area rugs on either side of the beds so that you or your guests can step onto something warm. If you do have carpeting, a colorful or brightly patterned area rug at the end of the bed - somewhat longer than the bed is wide - is an easy way to add visual drama to a bedroom.
8. Master Bathroom
Small area rugs can work wonders in your master bathroom, transforming a cold tile floor into a series of cozy oases for your feet. Place a rug in front of the sink (or both sinks if you have a double vanity), another near the shower or bathtub, and one final rug near the toilet. These rugs don't have to match, but they should complement each other and coordinate well with the rest of the room décor. Be sure to choose rugs that can be washed easily, and frequently, without fading or falling apart. Follow the same guidelines for the other bathrooms in your home.
9. Dining Room
A large area rug under your dining room table can serve several useful purposes. If you have an open floor plan, the rug will clearly define your dining space and distinguish it from the rest of the room. If you have a hardwood floor, a dining room rug will improve the acoustics for both family meals and dinner parties, protect your floor, and eliminate the harsh sound of chairs scraping on bare wood. In any case, a well-chosen rug will create visual interest and help make your dining room a showplace.
10. Utility Areas
With health and safety in mind, place a washable, non-skid rug where you enter your home from the garage, utility room, mudroom or patio, and clean the rugs regularly to keep dirt and bacteria levels down. In work areas where you do a lot of standing -- laundry room, workbench, and so on -- a cushioned rubber or vinyl mat or rug will help your feet and legs feel less tired, and they're easy to keep clean.
Sharon O'Brien is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon.