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Put on a floor show

Art you can roll around on? It doesn't get much better than that, writes Nathalie Marquez Courtney of the season's more daring rugs

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Handmade by master craftspeople in Connemara, The Moyard Collection from Connemara Carpets features pieces that would look just as good on a wall

Handmade by master craftspeople in Connemara, The Moyard Collection from Connemara Carpets features pieces that would look just as good on a wall

Handmade by master craftspeople in Connemara, The Moyard Collection from Connemara Carpets features pieces that would look just as good on a wall

To paraphrase The Dude - the beloved central character in the Coen brothers' cult classic The Big Lebowski - a rug really can tie a room together.

I have another favourite carpet quote though, and this one comes courtesy of London-based designer Adam Nathaniel Furman: "Rugs are like little pieces of art for your house that you get to roll around on."

As maximalist tendencies creep into interiors, our floor choices are getting increasingly daring. It began with bold, fun statement tiles but rugs are now stealing the show with new, eye-popping designs, daring colours, cool and quirky patterns and unusual finishes. Some are even being elevated to wall art.

 

SAY IT LOUD

It can be a hard look to pull off, as often rugs are purchased to work with existing furniture, decor and art, not the other way around.

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Get the gold, POA: Hand-tufted in botanical silk and inspired by the Spanish city of Valencia, this rug is fun and irreverent; rugsociety.eu

Get the gold, POA: Hand-tufted in botanical silk and inspired by the Spanish city of Valencia, this rug is fun and irreverent; rugsociety.eu

Cool and quirky, €1,106.60: This striking piece, embroidered using hand-spun
Afghan wool, is full of playful shapes; nest.co.uk

Cool and quirky, €1,106.60: This striking piece, embroidered using hand-spun Afghan wool, is full of playful shapes; nest.co.uk

Softly does it, €550: A rug doesn’t have to be loud to make a statement. We love the organic lines, muted tones and contrasting finishes of this Dream rug
from Dutch design firm Zuiver; aprilandthebear.com

Softly does it, €550: A rug doesn’t have to be loud to make a statement. We love the organic lines, muted tones and contrasting finishes of this Dream rug from Dutch design firm Zuiver; aprilandthebear.com

Art attack, €6,500: A collaboration between Connemara Carpets and Irish artist Samuel Walsh led to this striking wall hanging; moyardcollection.com

Art attack, €6,500: A collaboration between Connemara Carpets and Irish artist Samuel Walsh led to this striking wall hanging; moyardcollection.com

Design of the times, €319: We love the mix of graphic lines and organic shapes, not to mention the on-trend palette; Roche-bobois.com

Design of the times, €319: We love the mix of graphic lines and organic shapes, not to mention the on-trend palette; Roche-bobois.com

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Get the gold, POA: Hand-tufted in botanical silk and inspired by the Spanish city of Valencia, this rug is fun and irreverent; rugsociety.eu

"To make a statement rug feel part of the rest of the scheme, make sure there's an element of contrast and an element of harmony with the rest of the space," advises Penny Byrne, home designer at Neptune Global Village. "If it's a strong or busy pattern, for instance, contrast it with plain materials, simpler patterns or ones of a different scale, but then make sure to pick out and repeat some of the colours in the rug."

Don't feel a statement rug needs to take over the whole space either. You can use it to define a corner, brighten up a hallway or even layer it with simpler, quieter colours.

"Think contrast," says Penny. "So, you might start with your largest rug in a neutral, fine-textured flatweave [natural materials like jute, hemp and sisal are great here], and then layer on to that a smaller vintage kilim or Persian rug which is more colourful and patterned."

When layering, Penny recommends aiming for asymmetry and deliberately offsetting each rug from the others. "They should be overlapping, but not completely."

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IRISH ARTISANS

Ireland is in a good position to capitalise on the trend for bold, creative rugs. Companies like Connemara Carpets have been making bespoke, high-end rugs since the 1970s. Joan Nagle, who took over the company earlier this year, works with a team of seven full-time craftspeople to create completely custom designs, hand-drawn and hand-tufted using the softest merino wool.

They've also introduced a range of in-house designs, The Moyard Collection. "Because all of our products are bespoke, nobody ever sees them," she says.

"The new collection is designed to showcase the product and act as inspiration, showing people just what you can do."

Creating your own design isn't cheap - a simple design can start at about €850 per sqm and go up to €1,500 per sqm for something more complex - but it is a striking and effective way of making a big splash in a space, giving you a thematic anchor to build on.

 

FUNCTION FIRST

However, before you commit to a hand-tufted, deep pile, 100pc wool masterpiece, consider where and how it will be used. "One of the biggest mistakes people make is not considering their lifestyle," says Penny. "If you have children and pets, choose patterned rugs - so they show fewer marks - in flat, tight weaves which will be less likely to catch and pull (especially as you'll be vacuuming them frequently).

"The same goes for high-traffic areas like hallways and kitchens."

Size is the other big mistake people make - generally speaking, bigger is always better.

"A good rule of thumb is that a rug should be large enough that it's 'grounded' by your furniture, not floating freely, but not so large that, imagining the rug took off, all the furniture would go with it!"


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