Magic Carpet Guide
I have an area in the center of our main floor in an open floor plan that needs a new rug. I wanted a light color to keep the space airy and coordinated with my other decor. It’s now only six months old, and thanks to our dogs is now muddy beige. Any suggestions?
(Please pause for a moment to appreciate the wonderfully horrible title for this post.)
I think you’ve just described the single most existential quandary of Design vs. Life: the conflict between having both style and pets. I am the best possible person to whom you could have presented this question. Why? Because I have been searching for this same holy grail, at the crossroads of Design Street and Real Life. (And by “real life” I mean a large adult dog with a bladder the size of a walnut.) What I can offer to you are my findings and opinions, and then you can hopefully find something that could work for you. Read to the end, as the last idea has made me very curious and hopeful- it’s my favorite idea.
If you want to keep your current rug, maybe make two huge containers of homemade “wipes”: a bunch of shop towels or wash clothes with alcohol, water, and lavender oil. Then every time the dogs come in, you wipe their paws off, and they make your house smell like Provence. That’s semi-high-maintenance idea #1.
Semi-high-maintenance idea #2 is to schedule a professional carpet cleaner to come three or four times a year and do a quick, basic cleaning.
If it were my situation, I would have the rug cleaned and put somewhere else besides the main living area, and get a more suitable rug for commercial-level canine traffic.
An alternative way to think of keeping things light and bright, if you want to have the space feel “airy and coordinated with the other decor,” then consider something that is monochromatic with the floor. (I’m assuming you don’t have a white floor.) If you have wood floors, find something that is in the same tone family as the wood, and this should create a seamless, uninterrupted feeling while having a compatible tone to most dirt and pet oopsies. Earth tones are forgiving of… earthy lifestyles.
If it were my house, I can guarantee that I would have a huge seagrass rug cut for the area, and bound with a same-color, or darker, cotton binding. I LOVE seagrass carpeting everywhere, as wall-to-wall, or area rugs. Natural fiber rugs are the most neutral floor coverings, so they give a super-clean visual effect. They aren’t at all comfy if your family sits or lays on the floor a lot, but they are the best thing ever for dirt, pets, spills, etc. Don’t listen to what any rug professional says about seagrass- it’s SO easy to clean. I use spray cleaner (like Method or Simple Green) and a brush- and poof, problem gone.
Pattern is your friend. Just like a soldier in the bush, pattern obscures the hidden offense. A subtly patterned rug is like a ghillie suit for your dirty floor.
If you don’t want to go earthy or patterned, and you want to stay lighter, then I would say go with a nylon rug, or a wool/nylon blend. And then be prepared to call a professional rug cleaner once or twice a year, depending on how active the mud wrestling is before it’s tracked all over the house. I’m too lazy for this option, as it still demands constant spot cleaning.
Now I’d like a drum roll for my favorite two-part idea, which I am on the verge of trying myself…
If the area rug doesn’t need to be any larger than an 8’ x 10’, I would check out something I think is GENIUS:
I saw these on Instagram and fell over. Some brilliant, exhausted, domestic goddess invented a WASHABLE RUG! Not only is it washable, but it also doesn’t look flimsy, the patterns are good, and it seems to have a substantial appearance and feel. There is a base pad, which looks like it might be something like a big yoga mat, and then a removable, washable cover, that doesn’t look like it’s a cover. It just looks like a basic rug. And it’s reasonably priced! Check it out. Let me know if you try it before I do. Send me a pic.
Now, if your room needs a rug larger than 8’ x 10’, which my living room does, then I would try a Ruggable OVER a giant seagrass rug. I’m not positive this will work, as the Ruggable people say the pad should ideally be used on hard floors…but I’m kind of stubborn, so I’d like to try for myself. I’ll be putting the Ruggable under a coffee table, so it shouldn’t shift around…
Now I will end with some puns: hope I’ve given you some ideas for a good, rugged floor covering. And happy dirt trails.
Aubrey Thorne is an interior designer and astrologer in Los Angeles. She works with clients all over, both in-person and online. Feel free to contact Aubrey to ask a question or to schedule a consultation. People hire Aubrey to both help them sort out some of life’s bigger questions & have their homes re-designed. Once you meet her, it’s easy to understand why she does both things.