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Living Room Rugs

Rugs placed in a heavily used living room must be durable to withstand the day-to-day foot traffic from the family, visitors and even pets. Sam Presnell from The Rug Gallery discusses how to choose the best rug for your home and lifestyle. Sam also dives into how to properly size a rug for your space, considering many manufacturers make rugs that are actually smaller than advertised. Listen or read more to find out about living room rugs.

John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an Oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm John Maher, and I'm here with the owner of The Rug Gallery Sam Presnell. Hi, Sam.

Sam Presnell: Hi, John.

John: Sam, today we're talking about living room rugs. So what kind of rugs are best suited for living room use?

Sam: Well, I think anything that can take a lot of wear and tear, because when I think of a living room I'm thinking about a room that basically you live in. You might call it a family room; I would call it living room. I would definitely not call it a parlor like one of those rooms you would use in the old houses where you might have to use it once or twice a year during special occasions. These are rooms that get a lot of use. And I think you really want to put a good rug in there, a lot people [say], "I don't want a good rug in there because you know I've got three kids, two dogs, whatever. And it's going to get beat up, they spill everything, and I really don't want to spend a lot of money for that particular rug, I just want the opposite. I want something that's bulletproof and doesn't cost a thing."

I think that's the thinking from a lot of people's perspective -- and I get that. But at the same time, you can't get everything you want, and you have to realize that sometimes a good quality rug is going to perform and look good over the long haul, and clean, and be the type of rug you would like to have in that space and be proud of, when you know the company comes over, and the rug still looks good after a couple of years.

Find a Rug That Fits the Space

John: How should a rug be placed in the living room? What's the situation in terms of the furniture and where the rug fits into that space?

Sam: Yes, I think that's a big mistake that I see most people not having experience make, is one -- they get too small of a rug, or they get too big of a rug. I’d say most [of the] time it's too small: they don't really anticipate the room size really well and they are a lot times buying online or buying on their own [in] a big box or something like that -- they really don't have the expertise to rely upon there. But I'm a big believer in balance. So I want to know the size of the room, how the furniture is placed in the room, how do you use the room. I think those are all really good things to think about when you're buying a rug.

Then also I'd like to anchor the rug with the furniture. What I mean by that is at least the front legs of those furniture pieces are sitting on the rugs and not sitting off of the rug. The reason why I like that is because it helps anchor the furniture.

Because if you ever sit on furniture, and if you've got a very active family, that furniture is going to slide. You get slides on the hardwood or the ceramic or whatever you have, laminate floor around it. You're going to have to need something to keep that furniture from moving around and scooching against the walls or scooching out of place. I'm a big fan of basically anchoring that furniture with the rug and defining what I call the area, defining the space. I think if you want to take that furniture put it all together and make it cozy and inviting, a rug can do that. But you have to put the furniture on it.

A lot of people just put a little accent here, and to me, it looks like a postage stamp in a big room. And I'm a bit concerned about that. But who am I to be the judge of what's the proper thing to do? [It's] just that my recommendation would be to anchor the furniture, and I think you'll get a good balance of a rug to proportion.

Standard Rug Sizes

John: You probably don't want to go into a store and just say, "Oh, I'm just going to get an 8' x 10' rug, and I'm just going to stick it in front of my couch and be done with it." You want to put a little more thought into it.

Sam: Yes. Rugs are kind of set in size and standard sizes. And today what they're doing in order to keep the cost down is they're shrinking the size of those rugs. If you measure 8' x 10', it's not 8' x 10'. You measure 8' x 11'. It's not 8' x 11', and 9' x 12' ... So, a lot of these rugs are just progressively shrinking because of square footage and the cost per square foot to manufacture, and then the retail price has to meet a certain price.

We are basically taking rugs ... when I started in business, 9' x 12' was a standard size [and it] actually was 9' x 12'. Then it came [down to] 8.8' x 11.6'. Then it came out the 8.3' x 11.6' and that got down to 8' x 11'. That got down to 7.10' x 10.10'. So that's what a 9' x 12' is today. Basically, it's down to almost less than an 8 -- basically a 7.5' by 10.5' [that] now fills that same space for most stores and size. So, a lot of sizes are too small. And basically, it's from a pricing standpoint that's done for.

John: Is it possible to put an Oriental-type rug on top of a wall-to-wall carpet in your living room? Or do you really have to have a hardwood floor?

Sam: I'm not a big fan of that. I think that's very commonly done. But I think what the hard surfaces becoming more and more popular and more reasonable, there's lots of other types of hard surfaces other than putting hardwood down in a floor or stone or something like that, which is very expensive. I think you're seeing more and more living spaces having hard surfaces, so an area rug's perfect. But on top of carpeting, you've got all kinds of behavior issues. That's why I can describe this: let's say you made your bed and then you got up and you walked on it. It would just ground every time you put your foot down on that bed it would shrink down around your foot and then your bedspread would be a jumbled mess.

That's when that's going to happen with that rug on top of that carpeting. Depending how thick your carpet is, what kind of pad you have ... it's going to move wherever you step on it. It's just going to wrinkle up and be unsightly and dangerous … very dangerous. I do not recommend it. There is one pad on the market that will help you with that situation. It's not a cure-all, it's about a 75% improvement, but there is something you can buy that will help you with a rug on top of carpeting. We sell that and probably a lot of other people sell something similar to it as well.

Living Room Rug Style

John: Where would I go about finding a living room rug. Is there a particular style that's made for the living room or is it pretty much any type of rug would work?

Sam: I think it depends on your style. I think you've got to define that. Most of time today, I see a very casual relaxed style. A lot of, I would say, leather sofas [and] recliners seem to be in vogue of what's going on as far as design. It's a more casual laidback style, so I would say it's probably not going to be a very floral rug, or if it is floral that could be bigger elements or it's going to be a little more spacious and in those designs. You'll see more geometrics, more modern abstract stuff in those spaces as well.

Consider Your Pets

John: Earlier you mentioned that you want to pick a rug that allows for a lot of wear and tear or responds well to wear and tear ... doesn't wear down because it's a high traffic area that living room. You mentioned pets how would having a pet affect what type of rug I would buy?

Sam: Well, I think that's something everybody should pay a big attention to because that's always the biggest issue. I always say a dog or cat is not the man's best friend, he's the rug man's best friend because they give us so much … there's one they love to scratch. They love to make their beds ... they're just hard on them: their feet are hard on them, their nails are hard on rugs. You've got a loop product, I would definitely stay away from loop products and go more the cut pile type of products in there for pets. For the pet that's not having good control of its bladder or other things. Yes, you probably want more of a synthetic, like a polypropylene rug with a good dense weave to it, something you can wash and won't absorb anything. I think pets are a big thing to pay attention to if you do have a pet, what kind of pet you have and how they use that room, I think you should definitely buy that rug. Keeping in mind that you've got a pet involved as well.

John: All right, that's great advice. Sam Presnell thanks again for speaking with me today.

Sam: You're welcome, John.

John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery and Oriental rugs and carpets visit ruggallerycincy.com ... that’s rug gallery c-i-n-c-y.com or call 513-793-9505. Make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes, and please give us a review as well, we would appreciate that. See you next time on The Rug Gallery.