By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
It used to be that, when it came to interior design, rugs and carpeting were an afterthought, something that was added at the end of the process and tailored to match that rest of the room’s décor.
Not any more.
According to Melanie Turner, North American vice president for the upscale, London-based The Rug Company, today’s deep-pocketed, we-do-everything-differently millennials now start from the bottom and work their way up when designing their homes’ interiors.
“Today, a rug can be the center of attention and the starting point for interior design,” she told a select group of journalists and high-end interior decorators during a two-day visit to Mexico City last week.
And the rugs she was talking about are not your standard shag, plush or saxony.
The rugs that Turner was referring to are the ultra-expensive, custom-designed, hand-woven kind that her company sells, which start at $2000 for a “modest” throw rug and can run as much as $25,000 for a customized, fill-the-room area carpet.
What accounts for the heavy price tag of these carpets?
To begin with, The Rug Company hires internationally recognized designers to create contemporary patterns and styles that are then sent to Nepal, where the brand has its own artisan factory to hand-loom each carpet to order.
The process, from order to delivery of each rug, usually takes about six months, but in some cases can take over a year.
“We work with our customers to help them choose the exact rug and colors that they need for their room,” Turner said.
As the rug production progresses in Nepal, the company sends them a small sample of the work to assure that both supplier and buyer are on the same page.
Turner explained that the company hires well-known artists and fashion designers such as Diane von Furstenberg and Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen to create original flooring masterpieces that can be modified and tailored to the specific size, shape, color and pattern-layouts of the client.
“We generally create about nine new designs each year,” she said.
“Over the years, we have noticed that people in the United States, Canada and Latin America tend to have moved away from geometrics and toward more organic, fluid abstract preferences, although in Europe, geometrics are still very popular.”
Color trends also have changed over time, Turner said, with blues and pinks now more popular than reds and muted shades of brown and gray.
She also pointed out that the company is now making a line of Perennial, fade- and stain-resistant rugs that can be used outdoors.
“We are very excited about these new Perennials because they are much more durable and versatile than our other rugs,” she said.
But if you are planning on investing in a costly, make-the-room carpet, how do you go about finding the right rug for your space and budget?
Turner said that the first step is to figure out how much you can afford to spend and go from there.
“As a décor element, a rug can be transformative in your entire design, so choosing the right rug can be a bit intimidating,“ she said.
“This is where our expertise and the advice of your personal interior designer come into play.”
Turner said that a well-chosen rug can entirely metamorphosize a room, imparting a sense of luxury and elegance.
“Try to think of the rug as the foundation of the room, a work of art that serves as the statement framework and underpinning of the rest of the décor,” she said.
It is important to keep in mind what the other furnishings are like, and whether you want the rug to blend in or contrast with the rest of the room.
Also important to consider is your individual lifestyle and how much wear-and-tear the rug is going to undergo.
Texture and materials are vital.
“Of course, a silk rug is going to look more luxurious and radiant than a wool rug,” Turner said, “but silk is more costly than wool, so you need to keep this is mind too, and you might have to compromise.”
Silk is also, as a rule, less resilient to heavy foot traffic.
Next, Turner said, think about what size you want the rug to be.
An overly massive rug may dwarf the rest of the room, while a carpet that is too small will look out of place and awkward.
“The secret is to always strive for balance,” Turner said.
The rug should be the anchor of the room’s décor, a guide to how the area’s space is meant to be divided.
“Don’t be afraid of color,” Turner said.
“Rugs add dimension and their color can brighten up or soften a room.”
Finally, Turner said that whatever rug you decide to buy should be something that you love.
“There are always going to be fashion trends in interior design,” she said, “but this is going to be part of your home, your daily environment, so choose something that makes you feel comfortable and happy. After all, you are going to be living with it for a long time.”