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Elevate Your Living Room with the Perfect Rug: A Guide to Choosing Artwork for Your Floor

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

living room layout with jonathan adler rug and glass coffee table
Living Room designed by Claire Dunn Interiors

In the world of interior design, every project presents its unique set of challenges and opportunities. Recently, I worked on an exciting online E-design project with a client based in Auckland, New Zealand, aimed at helping them select the perfect rug for their open-plan living room which would also complement their existing furniture. This brief highlighted the significance of rugs as "artwork for the floor" and reinforced essential principles for rug selection that apply universally. In this post, I'll share our journey and insights on how to choose the ideal rug for your open-plan living room.

An on-line design adventure in Auckland, New Zealand

Collaborating with clients in New Zealand adds a unique essence to the design process. The breath-taking natural beauty and diverse cultural influences often shape the design choices of homeowners in this beautiful part of the world. The project involved an open-plan living room, where seamlessly blending various functional areas was key to creating a harmonious living space. You might wonder how it is possible to work with clients so far away. The client shared with me photos and videos of their space, which included the existing furniture. Using special editing techniques, I was then able to capture the images onto a mood board which allowed me to coordinate the furniture with other items including rugs.

Jonathan Adler rug from Ruggable, deep blue velvet sofa, oak sideboard, contemporary living room
Mood board for Contemporary Living Room by Claire Dunn Interiors

1. Mark Out the Dimensions on the Floor

One of the first steps in our virtual design journey was for the client to mark out the rug's dimensions directly on the floor with something removeable such as masking tape. This practical approach allowed the client to visualise how the rug would fit within the space, ensuring it neither overwhelmed nor left empty spaces, helping establish a sense of proportion in the room. The size of a rug in a living room is a crucial factor that can significantly impact the overall look and functionality of the space. When choosing the right rug size, it's essential to consider the dimensions of your living room and the arrangement of your furniture. A general guideline is to ensure that the rug is large enough to accommodate all the key pieces of furniture within it, or at the very least, the front legs of larger furniture pieces like sofas and chairs should rest on the rug. This creates a cohesive and visually appealing connection between the furniture and the rug, anchoring the seating area and adding a sense of completeness to the room.

marking out space for rug on floor
If there's no masking tape available use blankets instead!

2. Complement the Colours in the Room

Selecting the perfect rug for a room is like putting together the final piece of a design puzzle. When it comes to complementing the existing colour scheme and furniture, it's essential to strike a balance. A well-chosen rug can tie together the various elements in a room, bringing cohesion and warmth. Consider the hues in your furniture and walls; a rug with complementary or contrasting colours can make a bold statement or provide a subtle accent. Additionally, the rug's texture and pattern should align with the overall style and mood you're aiming for in the space. Whether it's a plush, neutral rug that adds a sense of comfort to a minimalist room or a vibrant, patterned rug that infuses energy into a more subdued palette, the right rug can transform a room from ordinary to extraordinary. Inspired by the deep blues and greys within the existing scheme, I suggested a variety of options, which not only complemented the colours in the furniture and on the walls but also created a seamless connection with the surrounding environment.

mood board for living room by claire dunn interiors
A neutral rug adds a sense of comfort and cosiness to a room

3. Position the rug as the "Fifth Wall"

We approached the rug as more than just a floor covering; it became a part of the "fifth wall." Through the use of mood boards, I was able to help the client visualise the impact of patterned rug versus plain neutral. The intricate detail and striking design of a patterned rug would add depth and visual interest to the room, much like an exquisite piece of artwork and would certainly add the 'Wow' factor.

4. Anchor the Furniture

Creating a cohesive and inviting living space was our ultimate goal. To achieve this, we ensured that the chosen rug was generously sized to anchor the primary seating area. Placing the front legs of sofas and chairs on the rug provided a sense of unity and warmth, making the room inviting and comfortable for gatherings.

rug on parquet floor with plant and grey sofa

5. Define Separate Areas

The open-plan layout posed the challenge of defining distinct functional areas within the same space. To address this, I suggested strategically placing rugs to create visual boundaries, differentiating the living room from the dining area. The rugs would not only add functionality but also enrich the overall design, serving as mini-masterpieces on the floor.


Choosing the perfect rug for an open-plan living room in New Zealand was a creative and enriching journey. It reinforced the notion that rugs can indeed be "artwork for the floor." By marking out dimensions, complementing room colours, positioning the rug as the "fifth wall," anchoring furniture, and defining separate areas, we transformed the living space into a harmonious and visually captivating environment.

mood board with blue velvet sofa and glass coffee table
Using the mood boards as inspiration, the client went on to choose this gorgeous Berber rug

blue velvet sofa and patterned rug

Whether you're working on a design project in New Zealand or anywhere else in the world, these principles of rug selection remain timeless and adaptable, offering the opportunity to design a living room that uniquely reflects your style and surroundings.

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