Interior Design with Oriental Rugs

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Browse through fifty years of Architectural Digest, and you will find that Oriental rugs are featured in at least one home in every issue. In fact, Oriental rugs have been prized in Western interiors since the 16th century. Why? Because they make rooms look wonderful, and they do it instantly, without any trouble at all. Besides that, they’re practical. They’re easy to care for and they last for decades.

Designing with Oriental rugs is surprisingly easy. Essentially it’s a matter of trying rugs at home until you find one that looks great. One needn’t be an expert to judge what looks good, and, in fact, the most important thing is to find a rug or carpet that you really love.

If you’d still like professional help with your interior, Emmett Eiland’s can recommend a professional interior designer in your area. Phone us for a referral at 1-888-811-RUGS (1-888-811-7847) or (510) 526-1087.

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If possible, start with the Oriental carpet. This is a wonderful Sardis carpet by Woven Legends. (11’8” x 20’)

1. If possible, start with the Oriental rug.

A hundred and fifty years ago, Edger Allen Poe wrote that “the soul of the apartment is the carpet.” He meant that the carpet is the foundation of the décor, and all else flows from it. The moment you choose carpets for a room, you establish how the room will be laid out—into one large space, for instance, or, using several smaller rugs, into discrete areas such as the space before the fireplace or the area behind the sofa. Secondly, when you choose the rug or rugs for a room, you establish the colors that will look good in it. It is far easier to buy furniture and fabric to complement the carpet than the other way around.

Emmett Eiland’s Oriental Rug Company can help make it easy to choose furniture and fabric to match your carpet by providing you with a free 8 by 10 professional photograph of any carpet you buy from us. Take the photo with you for reference when you are shopping for furniture.

2. Using this website is a good way to get started.

On it you can easily familiarize yourself with the styles of Oriental rugs that are available, their cost and so forth. You will be able to search by many parameters simultaneously. For instance, you may want to do a search for new rugs between 9 and 10 ft wide by 12 to 13 ft long, with natural dyes, formal designs and blue fields. Or nearly anything else.

Keep in mind that not all of Emmett Eiland’s collection is online. To see everything in stock, visit the store in Berkeley. Eventually you will want to try rugs at home on an approval basis. Rug dealers expect it.

3. Determine the right size of the carpet you will need for the room.

Usually there is no harm in having the front legs of a chair or sofa on the rug and the back legs off.

You most likely will want to allow for a border of hardwood floor or of carpeting (or marble or whatever your floor is made of) to show on all sides of the carpet. So, for instance, if the space in which you would like a rug is 12 feet by 16 feet, you might select a carpet that is 9 by 12 feet, thus allowing for one and a half or two feet of border all the way around the carpet—with less space around a smaller rug.

In any case, don’t be too rigid about the size you require. Many people make the process of finding a rug almost impossible by hitting on an exact size and insisting on it. If you can, come up with a range of sizes that are possible. You will vastly increase the number of rugs from which to choose. Consider, for instance, that ordinarily there is no harm in having the front legs of a chair on a carpet and the rear legs off. Being flexible about size may mean the difference between winding up with a carpet that “works,” and one that you really love.

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Usually there is no harm in having the front legs of a chair or sofa on the rug and the back legs off.

The classic Oriental rug sizes are:

  • 3.5 ft x 5 ft
  • 4 ft x 6 ft
  • 5 ft x 7 or 8 ft
  • 6 ft x 9 ft
  • 8 ft x 10 ft
  • 9 ft x 12 ft
  • 10 ft x 14 ft
  • 12 ft x 15 ft
  • 12 ft x 18 ft

At Emmett Eiland’s you will find a good selection of unusual sizes.

4. People buy Oriental rugs on the basis of color, and rightly so.

Having the right colors in a room is absolutely critical. But who is to say which are the right colors? Well, you are. On the basis of our experience, do-it-yourself designers are remarkably sophisticated in choosing colors. In any case, you will have the opportunity to take rugs home on an approval basis, making the whole process of choosing colors a lot less abstract If possible, when you visit a showroom, bring swatches of fabric from upholstery or drapes. Not only will that help you, but it will help your salesman know what to show you.

Keep this in mind: Dark colors in a carpet bring the ceiling down. Light colors make the ceiling seem higher.

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5. Design

There are thousands of Oriental rug designs, but basically they fall into the following groups, each of which will influence the design of your interior.

  1. Designs with straight lines and geometric figures. These designs suggest country origins and may even have a kind of Navajo rug feeling. Designs like this are useful informal interiors such as a south-west look, for instance, or an arts-and-crafts look.
  2. Designs with curvilinear lines. These are associated with carpets of a city manufacture and are useful in more formal settings such as a European-inspired interior.
  3. Contemporary designs. These may run from abstract to single-color rugs, but one thing they have in common is that they often are appropriate in modern and contemporary interiors.

Beyond these broad categories, you will find designs that are based on medallions, others that are all-over, a few that are pictorial, some that are directional, and others that are organized into panels. Each has a different effect in a room. For instance, a rug with a central medallion usually is placed so that the medallion falls in the middle of something, so to speak—under a chandelier, for instance, or in the middle of an area or room or under the middle of a table.

Designing with Oriental Rugs Pic 5
The medallion in this carpet provides a focal point in the room. It was woven by Woven Legends and is called Euphrates.

Another distinction you may make is between small-scale and large-scale designs. It may be said that small scale designs call attention to the furniture on them, while carpets with large-scale, dramatic designs call more attention to themselves and become an important focal point in the interior.

In the end, though, in this matter of carpet design you may wish to be guided simply by what you like. Many people, for instance, prefer rugs with central medallions. If it so happens that the medallion doesn’t line up with some other interior feature, it is no great tragedy. The most important thing about interior design, in our opinion, is to love the final outcome and to be delighted by the objects with which you have surrounded yourself.

Using the advanced rug search feature of this web site, you may search for carpets using the following criteria (among many others): geometric, curvilinear, all-over, medallion, open, pictorial, and prayer design.



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    Interior Designers India July 8, 2008

    Rugs are a great accessory to decorate a space with. Oriental rugs are known to be expensive but they do come in cheaper variants. They are easy to maintain and last for a considerable period of time. In the Middle East, rugs or carpets are prized possessions, and are intricately woven with high quality thread. Some carpets are said to have taken decades to make, and are passed down from generation to generation.

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    Jane October 13, 2008

    We will be using an oriental rug in our home office, but due to spacing will need 2 separate rugs. Should they be both the same design as they will be in the same room and nearby.

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    Richard October 15, 2008

    There are no rules to the placement of Oriental carpets in your home. Rugs should “generally” complement each other if in the same room.

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    renee October 26, 2008

    Is there a rug from Iran that looks like the antique rugs but is made in the 1970’s?
    We have a rug dealer in our town that marks his rugs at say 19,500. and then gives a 90% discount. He claims he has no room. He also says they are antique. I know this is too good to be true. Please help!

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    Richard October 29, 2008

    It’s too good to be true. There are rugs made yesterday that look like antiques from the late 19th century. It is an age old Oriental rug dealer ploy to artificially inflate the price of a carpet just to discount it. It’s actually good psychology! Everybody wants to think they are getting a deal. If you can send a photo I’d be happy to take a look.

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    Adrian November 30, 2008

    So, how can you tell if a rug really is an “antique” or not? I’ve just had my place redesigned by a Westwood interior designer, and ancient rugs would seem like a nice addition to it. I hope to find a great deal, and a great deal means you get your money’s worth.

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    james January 7, 2009

    i am in the process of buying a new sofa for my living room. the rug is a heriz style on a red field i bought at emmetts about 14 years ago. my question is: what fabric pattern options can i consider with my sofa? because of the rug, the common sage or green colors i do not think will work. geometrical patterns i think clash with the organic rug design. opposite the sofa across the rug is a 7′ black grand piano. thanks!

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    Ange January 8, 2009

    Help Please ! I have a new large chocolate brown leather sofa and recliner. My walls are light chocolate brown(my wonderful husband likes this)….. The following items 2 years old and matched blue french provintial funiture Light cream berber carpet. 2 large windows with Light cream solid color drapes (94 in. wide x 84 in. long, & blue and white toile rectangle shaped cornice that over hang 20 inches. Large Light chocolate wood intertainment center and 4 x 8 feet doll curio cabinet. What colors should I look for in an Oriental Rug. Should I keep the blue & white toile cornices or should I change it to other color ? THANK YOU for Your Time and Attention.

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    susan d. January 9, 2009

    I like your website and I’m glad to know you’re in the Bay Area.
    I live in san mateo.
    Are you willing to do rug exchanges ? I might be interested.

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    Richard January 14, 2009

    Could you send a picture of the carpet in the room? It would help us advise you better.

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    Richard January 14, 2009

    Sounds like you should stay with lighter colors to contrast all the dark wood. Perhaps something in a simpler design so as not to clash with the curio cabinet.

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    Richard January 14, 2009

    We do take carpets in trade. Send me pictures and I’ll let you know if I think the piece or pieces would fit in with what we have here.

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    Nancy Phelan November 22, 2009

    Compliment means free. Complement means to enhance.

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    admin November 22, 2009

    You’re right! Previous comment duly edited.

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    Rita Gomes January 11, 2010

    Posso usar na mesma sala, em dois ambientes, tapete persa e kilim? Por favor esclareça-me urgente. Obrigada. Can I use a Persian carpet and kilim in the same room, in two spaces?

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    Richard January 12, 2010

    There are no rules to the placement of Oriental carpets and Kilims. If the two look right to you then go with it.

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    Ann Broughton May 26, 2010

    I need to replace the silk drapes in my living room and dining room. The dining room is painted a deep raspberry. The rug is in the curvilinear style with black, burgandy, seafoam, cream, pink, and blue. The foyer, which separate the living and dining rooms, is painted cream, as is the living room. wood trim is white. I have plantation shutters covering the bottom halves of the windows. I am thinking of just using fabric swags and jabot at the window tops, or maybe an upholstered cornice board. Can you suggest a fabric

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    Jasmine June 10, 2010

    Thank you for your article and the comments. My father has always loved and collected oriental rugs. He gave me a large beautiful rug for my living room and your article has given me helpful tips for decorating around it. It has similar colors to an imitation oriental rug that I have for the entryway, but you can tell the dramatic difference in the luster and brightness of the real one. I look forward to reading more on your website.

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    Richard June 10, 2010

    Thanks Jasmine!

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    beth July 1, 2010

    Richard, the room in question currently has an 8×10 sisal rug anchoring the seating arrangement. i’ve found the attached rug that i really like but it’s a smaller size, approx 6×9. do i put it on top of the sisal, do i put it in front of my four poster bed or do i wait for another one to pass my way? just curious.

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    Angelica July 18, 2010

    Thank you for the great website! We just bought a fabulous traditional style dark gray oriental carpet. Dark gray is the main color and the other side colors are a lighter gray, cream, brown and black. When you look at it though the colors that pop our are the grays and the cream. Then you really have to look well to notice the brown and black details.

    My question is we are looking now to buy a great charcoal sectional – is that too much dark gray? I am usually very confident in my designing abilities but am seconding guessing myself with this color scheme. Like how to incorporate pictures….what style? Right now we have dark Emory wood furniture – is that too dark? Any help is appreciated!!

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    Nancy August 6, 2010

    What are some suggestions for putting Orientals on top of wall to wall carpet?

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    Richard August 7, 2010

    This is a new product we are using and I absolutely love it. Perfect for Carpet on carpet and good for other surfaces as well. We sell it for $1.95 per square foot.

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    Dave Clark September 3, 2010

    Good morning … I am an executor in an estate and have two Indian wool carpets that I’m trying to value. I’m attaching photos of a 6×8 and a 9×12 carpet that are exactly the same except for their size. I believe they were purchased in Canada in the early 60’s but they appear virtually unused. Your assistance would be appreciated- Dave Clark – 1-416-917-1037

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    Steven Ross September 5, 2010

    I own a beautiful Kazak and a nice cloud band, both from the nineteenth century. There is a black grand piano in my living room. What rug should I put under my piano and the collector rugs?

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    Richard September 5, 2010

    If you would like to send a photo of the room I’d be happy to give you my thoughts….

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    Richard September 5, 2010

    Just send the photos to the above address and I’ll let you know what I think.

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    Visadiaries September 30, 2010

    A few of the tips for rug cleaning include shaking your rug, and beating it whilst outside. You can then leave the carpet hanging over a portion of the deck or side of the home to allow for the actual dusts to clear out from the rug instead of taking all of them right back inside. Another way is always to steam clean them with mild soapy water and letting them dry out on a sunny day. This enables the removal and perhaps the loosening of dirt and dusts which lay inside the rugs.

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    Tessa Montgomery February 20, 2011

    I have an oriental rug, traditional medallion style with deep reds and blues. I have mahogany leather furniture & brown cowhide chair. Have zebra & leopard pillows. Help!! I love the rug but I love my animal accents as well. Ideas????

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    Ted June 2, 2011

    I have a small den 10 x 12 with a stripe couch (brown and mute colors) what do you suggest for a rug?

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    Glenda June 30, 2011

    Recently inherit a beautiful antique oriental rug. The colors are perfect for my bedroom, but the floor is covered with a beige carpet. Is it ever proper or okay to place the rug over the carpet? Thanks

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    Courtney July 13, 2011

    Help! I have just installed hard woods. I have some amazing rugs, in my opinion, anticipating the change. My question: Is there a proper way to mix/use multiple oriental rugs? Is it important to be consistent with one type of rug in the main living area?

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    Richard July 14, 2011

    In my opinion there are no rules in the placement of Oriental Carpets. If it looks good to you, it’s fine.

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    deshmukh July 14, 2011

    i want 12foot x 15foot living room interior design photo show pl my Email id is

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    Nancy Burns July 15, 2011

    Can you mix oriental rugs, such as one in dining room and one in living room that are attached?

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    David July 20, 2011

    rectangular lving/dining room. can i turn the dining room rog perpendicular to the living room rug to better fit the space?

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    Richard August 11, 2011

    Can I lay persian rugs on top of wall to wall carpeting? Any cautionary advice?

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    susan October 6, 2011

    I need help right now I just got a room and I’m trying to decorate it but I have lots of opinions now I’m confused!I bought a rug I don’t know d colour that will match d curtain and wat colour should I paint d walls I also have a white tiger love seat. Thank you

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    Patti October 25, 2011

    I’ve finally found material to recover my couch. The red background is brick red, with a lot of orange in it; this color is a focal point to the material. The rug has burgundy red, but this color is not a focal point of the rug. My question is can I mix these two colors in my living room. I think they are close enough.

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    Sylvia February 28, 2012

    Hi, I don’t have a rug yet for a new dining room which is 15′ wide and 16′ in length. This room will be a dining room with table and 6 chairs and a china hutch. The table with be in the center. The ceiling is vaulted and at the highest point it is 11′ having a 6′ pitch from the outside walls. What size of rug do you recommend? Thanks so much.

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    Jeff September 29, 2012

    One of the main issues to keep
    in mind about purchasing a Persian rug
    is whether or not the rug is the center of
    attention in our mind and all the rest of
    the furniture to be purchased later around the
    rug colors ….or if the rest of the furniture
    are the main point of attention and the rug to
    purchased later to fit the rest of the furniture.

    That is the main difference between Persians and
    many Europeans who are Persian rug lovers and Americans…..the first group wanting to make sure
    everyone keeps talking about their rug …and not the leather sofa which the rug colors match…!

    I learned all this from a great source for rugs and advice on them , their culture , weave , color
    blends , texture , value and how to select them…
    I hope they are also a useful source for other enthusiasts around the world , I think their new site is :

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    Virginia November 4, 2012

    We have an oriental rug in our living room and are looking for rugs for our dining room and hallway. We would like to move away from traditional into more contemporary. Would a chevron rug and other geometric patterns be too bold and busy? The rooms flow into each other.

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    Richard November 16, 2012

    My advice to people is that if it works for you it’s fine. If you like the look who cares what the design magazines say.

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    Gruhkhoj February 15, 2014

    Hi, your blog is interesting and having eye catching posts ….

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    lee forsloff July 16, 2014

    Hi I have 2 2by4 Orientals that I purchased in the early 70’s in Istanbul. the cof 2 colors are very muted salmon and pale green and cream .I have them in my dining area and adjacent foyer.Open to but separated by my couch placement is my living room area which consists of 2 caramel couches and a large entertainment ctr in shades of brown and black. I also have a couple of large Kenyan baskets I brought back from my travels. I recently picked fabric for pillows in an ikat pattern in cream/caramel red and a taupey green. My question is I love the Navajo rugs and would like to coordinate with the colors in my pillows but am concerned that it is a design mistake to mix orientals with native american….HELP!

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    emmaemily May 1, 2015

    Hello! your blog is sharing great information on this topic. Thank you for provide this useful information.

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    Depp December 18, 2015

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after ckhneicg through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be book-marking and ckhneicg back often!

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    martha March 29, 2016

    I have purchased a new home . It has an open floor plan and the dining room space is a bit shorter than the one I have now.. It is terrible that I will have to place the china cabinet on top of some of the rug? I know it needs a little smaller rug but the rug is beautiful and I prefer not to have to purchase another on..