Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ask Me Anything: Rug Shopping

Last week, I started a new feature on the site, where I field reader questions to the best of my ability. The questioners get moderately useful information, and I get out of thinking up my own topic for one day, and get to act like a total know-it-all. So everybody wins. Email your own burning questions to, or leave a comment on the site, and I will do my best to relieve the burning. For today's installment, we hear from my friend, Rachel.

Lil, Where is a good place (besides the obvious) to get a good rug? Rach

Dear Rachel,
That depends on what you mean by "good" and what you mean by "obvious"...and what you mean by "good" the second time.

Ask yourself this: are you looking for a rug that makes a statement, or just for something plain and simple to fit into an already-established room décor?

High-End, Underfoot
If you are looking to invest in a truly fabulous high-quality rug (the kind that will be underfoot as you fall peacefully to sleep in your rocking chair while your great-grandchildren play nearby), now is an excellent time to do so. The current economic status has even high-end retailers scrambling to sell, with many of them marking down prices significantly. ABC Carpet, for example, has marked down prices and is currently offering an additional 15% off: enter "sale15" at checkout.

On the other hand, if you just want something to keep your feet warm on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and want it to "disappear" into your décor, there are many options for that, too. We are all lucky to live in an age where good design can be had for cheap.

Stop, Shop, Roll
The best thing to do is to peruse as many web retailers as possible to get a sense of what you like and what you are looking for (with some sites, you may have to wade through some pretty ugly options to find the diamonds in the rough). Then, if there is one near you, you are best of going into the retail store and seeing and feeling the rug for yourself. Instead of soft butter yellow, you might find aggressive mustard, and instead of thick downy pile, you may encounter itchy bristles. Best to know now. You are also better off buying the rug directly from the store and paying local delivery (or conning a friend into carrying the other end) as shipping for rugs can be exorbitant- they are heavy suckers. (One exception is, where shipping is a flat rate of $3 for anything).

Hug Your Rug
Once you get your rug home, make sure to put a good quality rug pad underneath it. It will keep your rug from sliding around, protect it from damage, make it feel even more cushy underfoot, and reduce floor noise for your downstairs neighbors. Vacuum once a week, and treat spills and stains quickly- the biggest trick is getting to them before they dry. You should only have them professionally cleaned every 1-2 years.

Online Resources:
Pottery Barn
West Elm
Neiman Marcus
Restoration Hardware
Pier 1
Home Decorator's Collection
Ballard Designs
Shabby Chic
Room and Board
Cottage Style Living
ABC Carpet and Home
Bed, Bath, and Beyond
Payless Rugs
The Great Indoors
Room Service Home
Z Gallerie

You'll be floored by the selection. Happy shopping!

Rugs shown above are from (left to right): Pottery Barn, West Elm,, Payless Rugs, Ikea, and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

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