It's very difficult to write about rugs without quoting the Coen brothers' 1998 classic The Big Lebowski ("That rug really tied the room together!"). But The Dude was certainly on to something. A well-chosen rug can make the whole room feel instantly more stylish and, well, pulled together.
As design choices go, it's one of the most difficult. Rugs are notoriously expensive, and people get quite stressed trying to pick the right size, often putting off buying one altogether.
"The rug being an afterthought in the design of a room is one the biggest design mistake people make," says interior stylist Maoliosa Murray (maoliosa.com). "When choosing a rug, afford the same time and effort as you would choosing a key piece of furniture."
The statement rug in particular can be an incredibly handy interior design shortcut - you can design an entire room simply by starting with a strong rug and choosing the style, colour and texture of furniture to complement it, building your look from there. The trick is always to try a rug in your home first. "Colours can look different in certain light," says Maoliosa. "By trying a few different sizes it will help you make the right, final decision." Testing some rugs out in your space is also a commitment-free way to step outside your comfort zone and try different colours and patterns - often with surprising results.
"It's always so interesting to see the choices people finally make," notes Maoliosa. "Some very conservative clients have fallen in love with vibrant rug designs that they normally wouldn't have glanced at."
But what about price? They vary vastly, and for good reason too. "For me, it's like deciding between that investment wardrobe staple piece versus multiple lower priced throwaway items," says Maoliosa. That doesn't mean you can't mix it up with some high street favourites, especially if you haven't settled on your look yet, but just know that wear and tear will show up much quicker than it would on a coffee table or chair, thanks to how regularly it's trodden on.
"It's the price per wear equation. When you invest in a high quality hand-woven rug, it has been made to last over 100 years and withstand daily use, ageing gracefully."
This season, metallic textures and tones are a big trend in the rug world. "Combining bronze, platinum and graphite gives an immediate luxe appeal," Maoliosa explains. "Designs from The Rug Company such as the Catella by Emily Toddhunter, Platinum by David Rockwell, and Cora by Suzanne Sharp, combine the metallic trend with elegant timeless design."
Trends come and go, but rugs tend to stick around much longer - long after this season's hot pieces have been relegated to the attic.
So while you may fall for a piece that's very "now", have a long think about how it works with your existing furniture and artwork, and decide whether you'll still love it in your space five years from now. When in doubt, think of The Dude; a good rug really does tie the room together.
Nathalie Marquez Courtney is the editor of Image Interiors & Living magazine.