Probably one of the top decorating dilemmas that most people face is: where to begin? This question is particularly daunting if you are decorating a room (or even an entire home) from scratch. When I first moved into our townhome back in 2016, about six months before my husband and I got married, I was starting out with an almost blank slate, so I found myself grappling headfirst with this very issue.
Since I only had one or two not very nice pieces of furniture from my old apartment (which I was hoping to replace as soon as possible), I wasn’t limited by the necessity of coordinating with any pre-existing pieces. I had almost no furniture for the living room, so I decided to focus my efforts on that space first.
Because I was renting the townhome from my parents at the time, painting the walls was not really an option (and as I’ve since learned, that was probably for the best anyway. See this excellent post on the same topic by Miss Mustard Seed, which explains why it’s actually best to save painting for last). While there are lots of different ways to answer the question of “what comes first” when decorating, my strategy for this room was to begin with the rug.
My rationale was as follows: I knew I wanted as many large area rugs as possible because one thing that I did NOT love about our townhome was the carpet. At first glance, it seemed relatively neutral, but on closer inspection, it has very strong red undertones (depending on the context, it almost looks pink), and I wanted to try and neutralize it as much as possible. Furthermore, I LOVE patterns, and a large patterned rug is a wonderful way to add a lot of visual interest to a room. It can also introduce a whole color palette, which you can then use as accent colors throughout the rest of the room.
So, then the question became, what rug? Again, this can be paralyzing because there are literally an infinite number of choices, particularly when you are shopping online. I usually set myself a list of parameters to help narrow down the selection. Obviously, these are unique to every situation, but this example may be helpful in illustrating the various points that there are to consider.
1) The size. My living room was a nice size—approximately 19 x 12 feet—so I knew I couldn’t go any smaller than an 8 x 10 for a rug or it would feel disproportionately small.
2) The price. I had set myself a decent budget for the living room from my savings, but still, it was a pretty tight budget. I wanted to spend between $200-$300.
3) The style. While more contemporary stylistic trends are growing on me, I still define my style as fairly traditional, and as I said, I LOVE patterns, particularly anything that feels reminiscent of the Arts and Crafts period (which is no surprise if you look at my paintings).
4) The color palette. A lot of oriental rugs have a very strong red base, and while I love deep rich reds, I was already frustrated by how overwhelming warm the carpet was. So I decided to go with a rug that had a predominately blue base. Furthermore, since the living room is at the back of the house and has a fireplace, I wanted it to have a warm, rich, and cozy feel, so I wanted a rug which had a darker palette, rather than something light and pastel-like.
And there you have it! Using those criteria, I narrowed the options down to this rug from Bed, Bath, and Beyond:
I can honestly say that (two and a half years later), I still love this rug! It has held up great (even with two cats), and it introduced a gorgeous palette of navy blue, deep red, sage, pale blue, and beige, which I have used in decorating the rest of the space. And it made me dislike my carpet a lot less!