Rugged beauty

Carol O’Callaghan sings the praises of the versatile rug, adding softness to your floors — as well as dressing them up.

SO you thought wooden floors or tiles throughout the house would be easy to maintain and more practical than carpet, and who could blame you? It’s certainly easier to flick a mop around than hauling out a vacuum cleaner to suck up long hair shed by humans and short hair from pets.

Carpets are cuddly and warm and much beloved by youngsters to stretch themselves upon for television watching and colouring projects, though not exactly top of the list for hygiene and low maintenance in busy living areas.

But when you ripped yours out or vowed never to lay them in the first place, did you consider the impact of chilly days in winter when your love of padding around in bare feet would be prohibited by cold tiles or wooden boards?

There’s also the problem of domestic noise pollution to consider when that lack of softness underfoot means there’s nothing to help absorb sound.

Footsteps in bedrooms overhead can be heard downstairs, and noise of chatter and television will drift upwards.

As a temporary solution, and one that allows you to change with the seasons, consider the rug. It’s the most versatile of floor coverings allowing you, in effect, to carpet your wooden or tiled floor for the winter.

Once spring arrives you can roll it up and you’re back to low maintenance timber or tile with the added bonus of a very different and fresh looking room that will somehow feel lighter, airier and more spacious, which is exactly what you want in spring time.

A rug can also be moved from room to room to ring the changes and create a bit of visual excitement in the process. Although it will take down the noise of footsteps and absorb the high notes of a chattering group, a rug can really turn up the volume on its visual impact with detailed patterning and colourways, or mute its impact with something plain and sophisticated.

Rugs do not have to be rectangular. In fact a rectangular shaped room will benefit from a square version to give the illusion of pulling up the long walls and squaring off the space.

Round rugs are a gift in halls, most of which in Ireland are long and narrow with just that little square area inside the front door before you step up the stairs. So pop a little circular number down to add a softer shape to the relentlessly straight lines of this space.

Another optical illusion rugs can create is to help define the different spaces in open-plan rooms, marking out areas of specific function such as dining and sitting so your space isn’t like a cavernous barn filled with furniture.

You will need large scale rugs to achieve the effect but remember to keep your walls and upholstery neutral or at least in a single colour if you are opting for busily patterned or colourful rugs.

Once a rug is in place, invest in a lining to put underneath if you are not anchoring it beneath a dining or coffee table. It’s a little added expense but an important addition to floors which have a smooth surface, otherwise a misplaced heel could cause it to slip and catapult you into an undignified high-low.

¦ Next week we’re moving into the guest room.

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