A rug is one of the easiest ways to add a little something to a room—a pop of color, some texture, an element of surprise—but with so many options, why choose just one? Layering a few rugs on top of one another is a trend that’s proven to have staying power. But it can still can feel a little intimidating, so we decided to get some expert advice. “We’re seeing the layering trend so much because of [the popularity of] hygge,” says Nancy Fire, the designer behind Studio NYC Design who recently teamed up with Nourison for an exciting and affordable new line of rugs and home furnishings. “Evoking the coziness that’s so important today is not just about pillows and throws, you want to think of it from the floor up.”
Ahead, Fire guides us through the art of rug layering.
Work with the Room
Layering rugs works best in a room where you have space and not that much furniture, like a bedroom, living room, or den. If the room is on the simpler side, Fire recommends layering pattern on pattern. If it has wallpaper, or there’s a lot going on in the room, she suggests mixing a solid rug with a patterned rug.
Color Coordination is Key
Years ago, the layering trend started with simply placing a patterned rug on top of a sisal or other natural fiber carpet. But today, we're seeing multiple rugs laid in a room that are more related to each other. “It’s all about color-coordinating,” says Fire. “You can mix and match patterns if your colors work together—if not, it's going to look like a circus.” So, be sure your rug colors are either complementary or tonal, meaning different shades of the same color. “If you're working with geometrics, one might be an octagon and one might be a stripe, but you're relating the patterns through color,” says Fire. “Tonality usually works best that way.”
Layering rugs works best when they are different sizes. One should be large and more dominant and the others should be smaller and act as accents.
Another tip: A great way to utilize smaller rugs in a room, is to store them in a basket, and set them out when you have guests. “A lot of people like to sit around an ottoman on the floor with pillows,” says Fire. “To increase the space of coziness when you have friends over, just roll out some extra accent rugs.”
Layer on the Bias
Your first large rug should be laid down straight according to the furniture, and the smaller accent rugs should be set on the bias. You won’t know how it’ll look until you’re layering them in the room, so Fire advises to play—experiment with angles and change the furniture to see what works. “We are seeing a lot of poufs and accessible elements that you can move around easily,” she says. “When they’re placed differently on the rug, they can bring a different sensibility and can really enlarge the room.” Once you start experimenting, you’ll realize just how versatile your space can be.
It’s For Summer, Too
When you think of cozying up on a rug, it may seem more like a winter thing, but it works all year round. “You want your floor to be cozy in any season,” says Fire. “It's always nice to have the element of dimension using texture, print, pattern or weave.” While winter was about layering those faux furs we’ve seen for the last few years, summer is all about rugs made of woven cotton. They’re light and easy to move around, so it’s a perfect way to switch things up. “If you want to change the room for the warmer months, why not stack two or three rugs?” asks Fire. “It's fun and interesting and a great way to bring in color into the room—whether you're doing tones of blue, pastels or neutrals.”
You Don’t Have to Go Boho
With all the poufs and patterns, the layering rug trend may seem to lean a bit Bohemian, but it doesn’t have to. If your sensibility is little less hippie, a little more streamlined, layering rugs can still complement your home. “For people who want simplicity, adding a few rugs doesn't have to take away from that, it will just add texture,” says Fire. Instead of going for different patterns and colors, choose neutral tone rugs with different textures. “Layering sisals that are two-toned, like a black and cream, can be really beautiful,” she says. “It gives the room dimension without too much pattern.” Basically, if you're a person who loves color, go pattern on pattern; if you're a person who likes pattern, but is afraid of too much color, go tone on tone; if you're not a color or pattern person, go for texture.
Despite these guidelines, Fire stresses there really are no rules when it comes to layering rugs. “There are so many ways you can utilize rugs to be that new design hero,” she says. “Go with what your gut says, or try something that your gut wouldn't do and push yourself a little bit. I always say, imperfect is the new perfect.”