decorative rug
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bare rugs are not permenant fixture neatural colors

Decorating with Color


Many, if not most, people are afraid to use color in their decorating scheme. It feels safer to stick with neutral colors. But… If you want to be brave with color, rugs are a great place to experiment. Why? Area rugs are not a permanent fixture. Unlike walls, wall-to-wall carpeting or tile, you can move rugs from room to room if you wish. Also, the color pops from underneath and is more subtle than a brightly painted wall. For example, a predominately red area rug is not as dramatic as painting all four walls red. A vibrant rug color can be an excellent complement to your interior paint color scheme.

Decorating With Color

When making the decision to purchase a rug, check with the company’s return and exchange policy. Many times you can order small size rugs to reduce your risk. Purchase the smallest size available and if you like it, you can then exchange it for a bigger size. Order two or three rugs at time to compare and contrast. Be cautious however. The small, delicate pattern on a 2x3 rug may grow in proportion with an 8x10 area rug. Also, the background colors may appear much stronger on a 9x12 carpet than they were on a 2x3 mat.

Use color to create optical illusions and make rooms seem larger or smaller. If you have a massive room with high ceilings, choose a darker color scheme. This will make the room seem smaller and cozier. Conversely, if you have a very small room, choose light or pastel colors to make the room seem more spacious.

If the rug will be placed in a high traffic area, such as in a hallway, entryway or living room, it is best to use mid to darker tones to hide traffic patterns.

Pile Direction

Have you ever noticed that the colors in a rug can look dramatically different based on which way you look at it? It's not your imagination. Because of the way rugs are made, the pile (or nap) will lean to one side, rather than straight up and down. When viewing pile leaning toward you, colors will look darker because the rug is absorbing light. When viewing pile leaning away from you, colors will look lighter because the rug is reflecting light. Try it and see for yourself.

rug pile
rug pile


Choosing a Color Scheme

Color is important. It helps to define our mood and our overall sense of style. Cool colors like purple, blue and green are said to be calming and relaxing. Warm colors such as red, orange and yellow lift our mood and pump up our energy levels.

Rich, dark jewel tones such as burgundy, burnt orange, mahogany and hunter green often set a more traditional and formal style. Bright blues, yellows, greens and reds create a more Provencal or Scandinavian feel depending on which textiles and furniture you choose. Sleek black and silver usually lend themselves to a contemporary look. Pastels lend well to shabby chic, country, cottage and beachfront-inspired décor. Learn more about color meanings.

See the color wheels below to find out which colors fit your moods and personality best.

When picking color schemes in your home it is often best to choose colors that are either directly opposite from one another on the color wheel (complementary colors) or directly next to each other on the color wheel (tertiary colors). These are the colors that are most harmonious with each other and they tend to produce the best looking interiors.


primary color wheel
complementary color wheel
tertiary color wheel

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