Choosing a New Dining Room Rug (And How I Goofed It Up Twice!)
Last week, I shared with you all the pros and cons of buying rugs online. If that post sounded like it came from personal experience, it did. I almost always buy our rugs online. The main reason is that I am often trying to find big, decent rugs for really cheap and relatively fast. Because we move so frequently and rugs rarely work from home to home, we don’t usually have the luxury of time to stumble upon the “perfect” rug for each house. Also, rugs are frequently one of the first things we “need” in a new place, but hunting down the “best” local rug stores often isn’t a priority when we’re trying to get settled. So online it (usually) is for us. And while we’ve had some great finds, I’ve also screwed it up, big time, just as much…like in our current home. I’ve recently bought not 1 but 2 rugs for our dining room, and I goofed them both. So I thought while I was showing you these new additions to our home, I’d explain what I got right, what I got wrong and how we’re (trying to) make them both work!
Try 1 – Navy & White Herringbone Rug
Here is our dining room shortly after moving in.
The dining “space” is sandwiched between our kitchen and family room. And since there aren’t any walls, the floor is one of my only opportunities to bring in some style and texture. I realize it’s a personal/controversial decision, but I personally like rugs under tables. And it’s about more than aesthetics for me: I would rather crumbs, which are going to be there no matter what, be camouflaged by a rug rather than open and obvious on a hard floor. #sorrynotsorry #reallife. Anyway, after moving in and buying a brand new round pedestal table that we LOVE, I searched high and low for the perfect rug for this spot. My goals? Something light and bright with a design, durable enough to withstand lots of foot traffic, and something that played nicely with the stripes on the walls and fabric on the chairs in the adjoining family room:
I spent hours searching through various rug options and eventually decided on this one.
Before actually buying it, I used all my usual tricks to “ensure” it would work. I analyzed the listing for any important details. I read all the reviews. I primitively photoshopped the rug into pictures of the space. I searched for pictures of the rug in actual spaces (rather than the listing graphics). I got Greg’s opinion. Ultimately, I felt confident in the rug; so I ordered it and waited patiently. When it arrived, I dragged it in, rolled it out…and my heart sank.
Remember, buying rugs online is always a gamble. Even with the best research, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. And what I got was all wrong.
(I’m sorry you guys!!! These are the ONLY pictures I could find of this rug in our dining room. This debacle was going on right after Sam was born and taking pictures of our rug wasn’t quite a priority!)
Wait. Let me clarify. I love this rug…just not in our dining room. Even though I loved the texture on the floor and how bright it made the room feel, the contrast between the navy/white rug in the middle of all thes brown floors felt visually jarring. Add to that, the scale of the pattern was way too small (it even hurt my eyes a bit), and it competed with the wall and chairs in the adjoining room. I spent a few days in denial, trying to think of anything and everything I could do to make it work. Then three days after the rug arrived, Henry walked across it in his soccer cleats. And this happened…
Can you see them? The dozens of pulls every few feet? Yes, the pattern and scale were both very wrong for this space, but that I could (maybe) fix. Unfortunately, the durability…or rather, lack of durability…was a problem I couldn’t fix. The thoroughfare through the dining area is our most traversed path in our entire house; and if this rug looked like this 3 days in, what would it look like after three years?
How We Fixed It
I knew I was going to have to buy another rug for our dining room, but what was I going to do with this rug? Sure it wasn’t super expensive, but I couldn’t, in good conscious, just stuff a brand new rug into the garage. So we moved it here.
I am not typically a “layer rugs over carpet” kind of gal. However, our bedroom was really the only other spot in the entire house that could fit a large rug. Plus, the color scheme and scale were pretty perfect for this room. And since we almost never have shoes on in the bedroom, the lightweight, woven texture wasn’t an issue. While I certainly wouldn’t have gone out of my way to order this rug for our bedroom, it turned out to be a pretty happy accident. It brings another layer of texture to our bedroom, it puts my poor rug choice to better use, AND it covers up some of the ugly brown carpet. How about that for some lemonade?
(Whoa?!? Our bedroom is blue? Yep – I’ll fill you in on why and how soon!)
Try 2 – White and Brown Sisal Rug
With everything we had been through with the first rug, I was hyper-conscious about getting the second rug right. I realized I royally messed up with the scale, texture and durability the first time around, so I set off on another online hunt with even more parameters in mind. In addition to my original criteria (light and bright, durable, coordinates with the adjoining family room), I also aimed to find one with better scale, more durability, and a less “loud”/busy pattern. I shifted my search away from blue and white geometric patterns and found myself gravitating toward natural fiber rugs like jute and sisal. Although such options didn’t quite help me escape from all the brown in our house, I actually felt like they would work more seamlessly with our layout while still adding the texture (and crumb camouflage!) I so badly wanted. My search lead me to these two final candidates:
If you all know anything about me from reading my blog, it’s that I can’t resist a good pattern. I swear I should have been a textile designer because good patterns literally make my heart skip a beat. And that one on the right? I love a good stripe, I love the contrast, and I thought our round pedestal table would work perfectly in the middle of the X pattern. As much as I tried to talk myself into the left option (because it was cheaper and “safer”), I chose the right because I LOVE that rug SO much. Gut reaction is certainly always a factor in room design! So I bought it (during a sale to get it as low as I possibly could), and waited. And when it arrived, I eagerly rolled it out and… whomp. My heart sank again.
Don’t get me wrong. Boy do I love this rug, but just not in this space (am I sounding like a broken record yet?). Let me clarify what I got wrong this time. From this perspective, the rug is awesome:
The scale, the texture, the pattern, the flow…it’s ALL wonderful. But we have a very open concept first floor, which means the rug is seen from many different angles. And it’s this one, that I don’t love so much…
While I was certain the rug would work with our striped feature wall, I didn’t anticipate it being such a near (perfect?) match. And while this may seem like a good thing, it is all a bit too matchy matchy for my liking. How cute. I have stripes on the wall AND stripes on the floor #oops #notintentional.
Beyond the “matchy-ness” of it, there were two other problems with the rug that I certainly didn’t anticipate before ordering. Because I got the rug on a pretty good sale, I chose to get the biggest rug I could to fit into our space (this often increases the chances a rug will work in future homes – I can handle too big rugs, I can’t handle too small rugs.) Well, what I didn’t anticipate is that the center of the pattern (the X), would then be in the exact center of the room (duh). But we don’t put the table in the exact center of the room because we need a walkway through to the kitchen. So the table is set further into the dining space, which means that it doesn’t sit in the exact center of the X. #seriously? #seriously #tryingtogetoverit
And the other problem? Its texture. Yes, it’s totally durable. Henry can run across it in his soccer cleats and nothing really happens to it. And it camouflages crumbs quite well because of all the nooks and crannies in the natural fibers. But you know what are SUPER hard to get out of textured rugs? Spills. And baby food. And we have a lot of those lately. They pretty much cannot be “wiped” up off these rugs, so stains are becoming a bit of a problem. So while this is a great rug for durability and texture and style, it probably isn’t the BEST choice for under a table where two kids eat all day everyday.
How We Fixed It
So how are we fixing this rug? We’re not. We’re living with it. You better bet I considered dragging it up to the playroom (the only other space where it will work), but it would certainly be a tripping hazzard up there. Plus, I just cannot in good conscious buy a third rug for this space. So, I am living with it and learning from it. Every.single.day.
Lessons Learned from Our Two Rugs
So I realize this is not the most uplifting post (hey, come read about how I royally messed up two major rug purchases!) Nonetheless, I thought it was worth sharing for three reasons…1) So you can see these two new additions to our home; 2) So you can see that I get things wrong just as much, if not more, as I get things right; and 3) So you can learn a few things about rugs that I wished I knew/realized before both of these purchases! So in summary, here are some main takeaways from my rug debacle(s):
- Rugs are about so much more than size and color(s). Be sure to consider a pattern’s scale and how the pattern is situated on the rug (and will therefor be in your space). Oh – and if you have an astigmatism, avoid small-scale rugs.
- Durability and texture are two very different things. The blue and white rug feels awesome to the touch and doesn’t really show stains, but the weave pulls out (seemingly) when you just look at it. The sisal rug can be marched across by a parade of kids, but it has a rougher feel and lots of tiny cracks and splits for things to get lost in.
- If a rug doesn’t work and
you’re too lazyyou can’t return it, don’t despair (too much). Try the rug in different rooms throughout your house to see if you can’t make it make sense somewhere else. If you just can’t make it work, try to sell it “like new” to offset the costs of buying another rug.
After all this, I still stand by buying rugs online…simply because I find it the best way to get rugs so easily, so cheap, and so fast. But I will say this: these two rug goofs have given me reason to hunt in stores a little harder (and then look for the same rug online to get a better price); to read descriptions a little closer; and to try a little harder to understand all the various rug jargon so I can better anticipate what will eventually arrive on my doorstep. Although I messed up pretty good, and I spent good money on two rugs I don’t love, I’m not going to lose hope on someday mastering how to buy rugs for a room. With each rug, I learn something new, and that in and of itself can be pretty valuable!
So I’d love to hear from you guys! Please tell me I’m not the ONLY one to majorly mess up purchases like this? What did you do? How did you fix it? What other valuable rug lessons can you share?