Practical and beautiful, rugs not only add colour, pattern and texture to interiors, they pull schemes together and bring them to life.

Related to decorating with rugs: Decorating around bold walls


decorating with rugs - dining room with tall chairs and rug - sa garden and home

In this Durban home, decorator Lee Moon defined the dining section of the open-plan space with a distressed vintage rug. It adds subtle colour to the neutral furnishings while the interesting pattern makes it a focal point.


decorating with rugs - bathroom rug - sa garden and home

Tiled bathrooms can look a bit cold and clinical, so use a rug to add a pop of personality while providing some warmth underfoot. In her bathroom, Cara Slater-Middlewick chose a long rectangular rug to give the room a furnished feel.

More like decorating with rugs: Decorating with texture


decorating with rugs - entrance rug - sa garden and home

Placed in front of a bench by Tonic, this abstract rug from Paco acts as a large piece of floor art in the entrance hall of Cliff and Bernadette Sampson’s home. Decor by Robin Widdop Interior Design.


“I chose this Airloom rug for the scale of the pattern,” says Amy Mitchell of Studio Mitchell. “It’s important to vary the scale of the different patterns in a room to make a scheme more dynamic and visually interesting and the colours work well with the rest of the scheme.”


A striking black and white rug sets the contemporary tone of this sitting area in an open-plan living space. Combined with symmetrically placed bright yellow chairs, it makes a statement bringing the furnishings to life.


“This rug from Hertex is specifically designed for outdoor use and so it was the perfect choice for this veranda,” says Lisa Walters of Lisa Walters Interiors. “The dark colours and geometric pattern are also very practical for an outdoor area, which is more affected by dust and dirt.”


Third generation rug dealer Charles Gonsenhauser of Gonsenhausers Fine Rugs shares his tips on decorating with rugs

  • As rugs are usually the foundation of a room, it’s advisable to choose them first as their colours will inform the rest of the scheme. Alternatively, if budget allows, you could go for a bespoke rug designed around your specific decor scheme.
  • To add warmth and scale, buy big rugs so that the furniture sits within the area of the rug. For a more streamlined look, use smaller rugs that sit in front of chairs and sofas.
  • When selecting a rug for a dining room, make sure it’s big enough to accommodate dining chairs when they’re pulled out from the table.
  • In a bedroom, place the rug just beyond all four corners of the feet of the bed; this defines the space better and gives you something soft and warm to step onto when you get out of bed. A great yardstick is to ensure there is sufficient rug underfoot no matter which side of the bed you get out of.
  • Place special rugs in the important areas. Use rugs that are opulent and luxurious in rooms used mostly by adults. In playrooms and areas frequented by children and pets, use more cost-effective and hardwearing rugs.
  • As a decorative accessory, rugs offer the opportunity to play with colour and pattern. Be adventurous and use them as focal points or as floor art.
  • Don’t restrict yourself to square and rectangular rugs. Circular and other shapes can be more interesting, especially if placed under round tables.
  • In open-plan areas, rugs help to define the different spaces. However, even if different, they should all work together for a harmonious effect.