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The Alternative Blog

Kate Watson-Smyth has been a national newspaper journalist for over 20 years. She also writes the UK’s number 1 interiors blog Madaboutthehouse.com and runs a successful interior styling business. Her first book Shades of Grey was published in February.


Images in top row: Quirky B Zebo Black, Big Jute Herringbone Bagel, Margo Selby collection – Quirky B Shuttle PeterQuirky B Honeycomb Duck Egg and Quirky B Spotty Damson

Images in middle row: Make Me A Rug online service examples of Quirky B Zebo Black rug with Cotton Apple border and Quirky B Honeycomb Duck Egg with Cotton Bluebird border

Images in bottom row: Jot rug borders in Iris, Emerald and Biscotti and Cotton Herringbone rug borders in Squash and Bayberry

For the first time Alternative Flooring’s Make Me A Rug service offers Quirky B pattern along with lots of new borders. This fabulous service has a new video that shows the five easy steps -choose a design from natural and wool flooring collections, select a border style, pick a border, add your dimensions and see your finished rug in a choice of different interior settings.

We asked fellow rug lover and star of our Make Me A Rug video Kate Watson-Smyth a few questions about how rugs can transform your home.

Are you a rug lover?

I absolutely am! My house has no carpet and I love the look of bare boards covered in different rugs. It’s a great way to decorate your home as you can change the rugs as the mood suits and, in doing, so completely change the personality of the room.

Do you have rugs in your home?

Yes I have rugs in every room. A very battered vintage Persian one under the kitchen table, which hides a multitude of red wine and food stains, several similar ones layered up in the sitting room and a plain one in the spare room. The bedside rugs are the sheepskins that my children used to have in their pushchairs.

Tips on decorating with rugs?

Well rules are made to be broken, but there are a couple of guidelines that I think are important. Firstly, buy the biggest rug you can afford for the space. Secondly, in the sitting room (for example), a rug should be anchored by the front legs of the sofa (at the very least). A small rug under the coffee table that doesn’t touch any furniture creates an island and doesn’t pull the room together. If you have only small rugs then layer them up to cover a larger space. Or, as I said, one big one that fills the space to about 18inches from the walls.

The one exception I would make is if you have an unusually shaped rug – the cowhides and sheepskins – they can sit as islands because of their shape. Otherwise, the rectangles and squares should be large and luxurious.

Any rug trends that you’ve spotted?

I think, as with all aspects of interior decoration, we are getting braver and bolder in our choices and that’s great. If you’re being sensible and buying a plain sofa so that it lasts for years and goes with everything then have a bit of fun with the rugs. You can afford to be bold with rugs as it’s easy to move them around to other rooms or even to change them seasonally so you don’t have to look at the same thing all the time. We change our clothes with the weather so why not our soft furnishings? Our homes don’t’ have to wear a uniform. The geometric look has been around for a while and shows no sign of disappearing and I’m a big fan of Dotty, which I have on my stairs. We’ve seen stripes around for a long time and I think a move towards spots is overdue. Also, whisper it quietly, I think the patterned carpet is due a comeback but it will be done in a totally new and modern way.

What about layering – the more the merrier?

Layering rugs offers an easy way to add even more colour and pattern to a room or experiment with trends. Do you agree?

Completely (see above). Layering can be tricky to pull off though. So the general idea is that they must all be Persian, or all Kilims or all Dhurries or all carpets. You can’t mix the materials. Then, you can totally clash the patterns as long as there is a common thread in the colours to hold your scheme together. If you have wildly clashing colours then try to keep the patterns similar: geometric or floral or striped. As with all these things, it’s hard to know what works until you see it. If you are planning this look in your home then just keep experimenting until you feel it works. Then roll up the ones that didn’t and use them in another room.

What about size?

Don’t skimp on size – are rugs getting bigger or it is just our imagination?

As I said, rugs should be as big as you can afford. Small rugs dotted around look dated and create a series of islands in your room rather than one cohesive space. The rug is the anchor that holds everything down. In addition to that, small rugs are not inviting. A large rug should invite you to step on it, preferably in bare feet.

See how Kate gets designing her personalised rug with Alternative Flooring’s Make Me A Rug online service! Watch the video here:

Alternative Flooring – Make Me A Rug

Tell us a bit about Make Me A Rug Service  and how this now includes the Quirky B pattern and even more borders !

The new Make Me A Rug Service has all the fabulous patterns from before but now they can be made into large rugs so they are perfect for any room in the house. There are lots of choices of border, so you can experiment to find the right look for you. Or, you can play it safe with the large range of neutrals but, if you do want to do that, can I urge you to have fun with the borders?

How easy did you find it?

It’s incredibly easy and user-friendly and I love that there is a choice of room photographs so you can see how a rug might look in a different space. There are also a variety of floors so you can tell how it will look on painted boards, or parquet for example.

Take us through your Make Me A Rug Experience

I have long been a fan of the Quirky B Zebo but knew that if it only came as a runner it wasn’t quite right for my house. When I realised that it was possible to make a rug from it, I didn’t hesitate. My only decision was in choosing the border. I couldn’t decide if black would be more subtle and allow the zebra pattern to stand out, or if a contrasting colour would be better. In the end I got samples of both so I could decide in real life and in my house rather than just online. You can see which way I jumped below….

Et Violà – here’s the rug and runners in my home!

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1 Comment
  1. Hi good day!
    I am a rug lover too!
    Handmade rugs can make a friendly look to your home.
    Floral rugs are great. I love Heris motifs.

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The Edit - home style by Alternative