RUG

Under a dining table, ensure that rugs are large enough to fit under the table and the chairs when the chairs are pulled out.

From rugs that welcome you in the foyer, to a rug under a dining table or bed, area rugs can cover tired carpeting or worn floors, or even define your space. This is especially true for open-concept homes or lofts where the lines of where one room begins and another one ends isn't always so clear. The area rug can help create a designated space, update a room, or simply put a soft touch under foot.

Separate space

Open living areas create a spacious and roomy feeling, but their boundaries can sometimes blur. This is when sofas and furnishings can seem to float in a wide-open space. To anchor your furniture and define your space, area rugs are the quickest fix. An area rug in a large room can help pull it together and make it feel more defined.

Rug rules

When delineating a space with an area rug, make sure you size the rug for the space and the furnishings that go on it. If the rug is too small, it will make the room seem off-kilter. An area rug that's too large will make the furnishings seem small and lost by contrast. Aim for a rug that's the size of the seating area, where the whole space under the seating area is covered or where the furniture fits on the edges. This will also enable you to purchase a smaller rug, saving you money, but giving you a full look.

For safety reasons, it's important that rugs are sized right. Having rug corners that stick out creates a trip hazard. Under a dining table, ensure that rugs are large enough to fit under the table and the chairs when the chairs are pulled out. Use rug mats on smooth floors to help grip and keep rugs from sliding and accidents from happening. Another consideration is the layered rug. While they may look great in design magazines, they may not be practical from a safety standpoint.

Selecting the right rug

Unless you're quite certain of the rug you want and how it will work in your room, look for rugs at your local carpet dealer. Many will let you take rugs home to try them out and find the one that looks best and is sized right for your room. If ordering online, look closely at all the fine details to ensure a good purchase. Bear in mind that although you might be able to return a rug purchased online, the return isn't the issue; packaging the rug back up and hauling it to the delivery service for returns that can be cumbersome.

When it comes to selecting a rug color, think about how you want the rug to look in your room. If you have dark floors, select a lighter color so that the rug doesn't blend into the background. Having a little contrast in color is also good for the eye and creates definition of your space. For solid-colored furniture, a patterned rug will introduce visual interest. Give your room a great feel with a rug that's textured, like sea grass. Or go luxurious with long fibers to add a cozy, soft feel underfoot and a look that's stylish and current.

(For more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her website, www.redlotusletter.com.)