MAT: A mat is quite small (perhaps something you wipe your feet on or something on the bathroom floor).

RUG: Rugs are bigger and suggests something thicker and comfortable for the feet. Or, a mysterious, furry mammal that resides on the heads of skanky-ass, bald men which looks like someone should wipe their feet on it.

CARPET: A carpet is bigger and can be of varying sizes or a floor covering made for a specific room.

CARPETING: Wall-to-wall installed, also called broadloom (machine made usually)

The terms "rugs" and "carpets" are now often interchangeable. 

This missive isn't about what I think is in or out or in good taste, even though I could fill this blog about heinous Chinese-made floor coverings marketed by retailers described as "Designer Rugs."  I'd rather walk on broken glass than walk on such cheesy-shit carpets...  Please, gimme a bare floor any freekin' day over that.  Those nasty jewel-toned rugs with HUGE flowers or curly-cues; faux-Mondrian patterns or some vomitous Tommy Bahama themed mess...feh! I'm just sayin'...


Make informed professional selections when choosing, measuring, ordering and buying what you want..... Here's how!
 (I'm using the term "rug" for simplicity sake below)

1. RUGS should be approximately (and consistently) 12" to 24" off the perimeter walls (exposing the floor underneath)  The smaller the room the smaller the margin.

(Designer: Sue Burgess)

2. FURNITURE looks awkward when half on or half off a carpet, If your holding your seating group together with the use of a rug, make sure its large enough for all the pieces to sit on OR small enough that some aren't on and some off - its an either or shituation. 

(Designer: Waldo Fernandez)

3. RUGS can be as close as 2" off the fireplace hearth if the general margin rule is respected.

4. CUSTOM RUGS need to be drawn into a scaled floor plan so there are no surprises. The scale drawing needs to be attached to the purchase order with all the detailed information shown.

This floor plan above shows the proper scale margins. It also shows a rounded corner as if it were square it would stick out into the open floor plan.

5. RUG PADS all rugs should have a pad under them for several reasons:

  • A. adds non-skid element
  • B. prolongs the life of the rug
  • C. feels better underfoot
  • D. furniture wont scoot across the floor taking the rug with it
  • E. adds an insulation element between floors or in drafty houses
  • F.  elderly people should have firmer carpets using denser pads.
  • G. wheelchair users need harder, denser pads
  • F.  if an area rug has a thick pad people trip on the edges
  • G. Persian or ethnic carpets should have low, dense, non-skid pads
  • H. sisal/coir/seagrass carpets are usually backed and need no pad

6. ANIMAL HIDES can artfully transition over the edge of a carpet to the floor, or be laid on top of another rug, half under the furniture, etc.

7. DINING ROOM rugs should be 4' from the edge of the table so chairs don't get caught on it. This usurps the margins rule.


Custom Made: Hallway carpets should leave approximately 6” to 12” of exposed wood on each side, and the runner no narrower than 30”.

(Designer: Rod Pleasants)

Ethnic or miscellaneous rugs: Mismatched rugs down a hall are very disconcerting, it looks very patchwork-ish. If you have a fabulous antique runner place it in the center of the hall, every bit of floor doesn't need to be covered.

Hallways with wall-to-wall look commercial and will have an omnipresent wear pattern right down the center.

9. STEPS & STAIRS Carpet on stairs is hard as every stairway is different.

  • A. Never carpet the entire tread around the pickets
  • B. Never use a plush carpet or pad on stairs, makes them dangerous
  • C. Never put bold patterns on stairs, its confusing when descending the stairs.

As you can see, these two stairs would be a bit difficult for people to navigate when descending. Although the one on the right is tres chic....but a total neck breaker.

(Designer: Rod Pleasants)
This pattern is easy to negotiate when descending; the borders are perfectly restrained, the margins are perfect. The runner is placed equidistant between the stringer board and the pickets.

  • D. Never put un-padded cotton runners on steps, Danger Will Robinson!
  • E. Never put small carpets on each tread, it's tacky!
  • F.  Carpets should have some exposed wood on each side of runner

This stairway above is perfectly carpeted: Waterfall nosing; terminates at the bottom on the floor; has nice margins and no borders.

  • G. The exposed wood should be no more than 12" on wide steps and no less than 3" on any steps
  • H. Stair runners should have very simple patterns and small(!) borders
  • I.  Stair runners should not be tacked under the nosing of the upper tread. That looks like a commercial application.

This is the wrong way tacked under the nosing and it runs from skirtboard to pickets.

The proper way is to have the runner "waterfall" over the upper tread and have some "air" behind it. 

This is the correct way.

  • J. If a stairway is curved for the entire flight so should the runner be curved.
  • K. If the stair curves for the last 3-5 treads so should the carpet follow the curve.
  • L. If the last two treads are the only ones curving then the carpet can remain straight. 
  • M. Landings and upper hallways have the same margin guidelines as above.
  • N. Do not run the carpet from the baseboard (skirtboard) to the picket.

This stairway has the left-hand margins exposed correctly as it's a fully curving stairway. However, it has the carpet tacked under the nosing which is wrong. The right-hand edge of the runner abutting the stringer board is incorrect; there should be a matching, but straight margin on the right side as well. The final mistake is they stopped the carpet at the "shoe-moulding" along the floor, the carpet should terminate at the floor.

10. WALL to WALL

Most wall-to-wall carpeting is either 12 or 13 feet wide. When choosing the carpet make sure you know what the width is as it may save you a lot of money to get a 13 foot wide carpet for your 12' 8" wide room.  When a room needs a seam, consider where that seam will be; you dont want the seam to drop down the middle of the high traffic area or close to the doorway. Also, if it's a patterned carpet you want to make sure the seam is in an inconspicuous place.

Draw your room to scale (as previously directed) layout the furnishings and consider the best place for the seam.

This floor-plan is for a bedroom using 12 foot wide carpet.

The bed will be placed against the right-hand wall, with a dresser opposite the bed.

The seam is only exposed between the foot of the bed and the front of the dresser.


1. Small rooms look bigger with wall-to-wall. But not in a living room unless its an apartment.

2. Large rooms look cold and commercial with wall-to-wall.

3. Bedrooms are cozier and more acoustically assured with wall-to-wall.

4. Bathrooms with wall-to-wall are always dirty, spotted and show footprints right in front of the toilet and sink - perpetually.

6. Small rooms should have less pattern (if any) and smaller borders (if any). Textured carpets are good for smaller rooms.

7. Be very careful of the overuse of patterns on the floor, they immediately make a room look smaller and often cluttered.

8. Persian (Oriental) Style Carpets are always going to be around; I've never personally cared for them as I find them too bold and often stupidly expensive. Rarely do you find a poor carpet manufacturer...

DO NOT EVER consider an "Oriental" or "Persian" carpet as an investment. It doesn't work like that - EVER. Only 2% of rugs maintain their retail value, and those are the ones that are over $100K anyhow. North African, the middle-east and China are pumping out handmade rugs by the thousands a day...what makes you think your 15 year old rug will be in style or valuable when you want to sell it?

9. Grass Carpets:
Coir: Made from coconut husks, very durable, rough texture and stains easily. It's what doormats are made from:

Seagrass: Made from - duh...seagrass! ...It's kelp so it has closed pores/cells and is smoother. It's great for animals as accidents don't stain it (usually). It comes in zillions of patterns too.

Sisal: Made from dry grasses and hemp, it's a good sturdy product.

10. Wool:
Good wool is the absolute best!  Cheap wool carpets are crap. It's better to have a good nylon carpet than an inexpensive wool.

11. Nylon:
Amazing quality and tactility. Most wall-to-wall on the US market is Nylon now days. Its a great 10 year product. Get as dense a fiber count as possible.

12. Cotton:
Lovely looking, often in amazing colors and patterns. Casual. They stain easily and are not easy to clean but are very soft and cozy looking. They will always have the occasional wrinkle...so if that bothers you beware. Always an area rug.

13. Linen:
Absolutely divine to touch and walk on barefoot. Gorgeous sensual texture and shimmer but not good for traffic, kids or pets...at all.

14. Silk:
Very shiny which can be good when blended with another fiber to create a pattern, but often quite showy. They wear very well.

15. Wood or Bamboo Mats:
Stupid ... a wooden-slat mat to put over, what..your wood floor or carpet? KMN...