How to Make Sure Rugs Match in an Open Concept Plan, According to Designers

published Aug 2, 2022
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Having an open-concept layout allows for lots of creativity and fun when it comes to decorating, but it can also be a bit daunting. When you’re looking at the full scope of a blank canvas, it can be tough to know exactly how to arrange furniture so that everything looks cohesive.

A key part of successfully creating separate areas in one open space usually involves leaning heavily into rugs to ground each “room.” But how can you ensure your rugs all work in unison? To help figure it out, I chatted with five designers to get their favorite tips and tricks.

Credit: Dustin Peck

Go For a Complementary and Collected Feel

According to Charlotte, North Carolina-based designer Gray Walker of Gray Walker Interiors, choosing the right rugs for an open concept space is about mixing complementary rugs that aren’t too similar. 

“I’m currently working on a plan that includes a foyer, kitchen, dining, and living area. I attacked this design challenge by placing rugs and light fixtures strategically to begin sculpting the individual spaces,” Walker says. “I started with a large neutral-colored antelope rug which expanded the entire living space. To complement that rug, I used a neutral wool-and-silk blend rug with a grid pattern in the dining area. In the kitchen and around the island, I am using custom, neutral Moroccan runners. These three different rug styles in one space create a collected aesthetic while still defining the spaces.” 

This mix ensures that your space doesn’t look like you quickly bought everything at the same time, and instead gives the illusion of collecting pieces gradually. 

Credit: Seth Caplan

Create Subtle Contrasts

“Aside from being pretty to look at and kind to our feet, rugs are a great way to visually define and delineate areas in an open space,” says New York City-based Molly Torres Portnof of DATE Interiors.

When it comes to choosing rugs that will all coexist in the same room, she says it’s best to select a color palette. “In these cases, it’s best to pair rugs with complementary colors. The colors shouldn’t be exactly the same unless you’re going for a monochrome look, but they should coordinate and feel intentional,” Torres Portnof says. “Also, there should be some contrast between the rugs, so it’s best not to choose rugs with the same pattern or texture.”

Designer Jessica Davis of Atelier Davis agrees. “Think about picking different shapes, as well,” she suggests. “Perhaps one that is rectangular and another that is more organic in shape like a cowhide or a circular rug. You want the rugs to be different, but not compete with one another.”

Credit: Lauren Pressey

Start With One Rug 

Like the other designers, Los Angeles-based Linda Hayslett of LH.Designs thinks having rugs that look too similar is a no-no. To help ensure that you’re incorporating some variety, she recommends finding an anchor from the very beginning.

“It’s best to focus on one rug that you love and then build on it with others that have complementary colors,” she says. “You can also choose something that contrasts it to make the space feel interesting and unique.”

Hayslett says to start with one rug that has several shades you can choose from, and then go from there to figure out how the other rugs look. “They should all relate to each other and complement your initial rug,” she says. “This also makes everything flow nicely when you’re walking through the space!” 

Credit: Corynne Pless

Layer Up Two Different Sizes

Want to use a rug you love, but it’s not quite working in your open space? Try layering it, says Nomita Joshi-Gupta of Nomita Joshi Interior Design in New Orleans. 

“Start with a neutral base rug such as sisal and layer it with your favorite finds,” Joshi-Gupta says. “This works especially well when that cherished but awkwardly-sized rug that you found on a trip abroad doesn’t quite work when you get it home.”