Published on October 20, 2020

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Photography by Stephen Kent Johnson

Colin King, a New York–based interiors stylist and set designer, has worked with major brands that you’ve definitely heard of: Roman and Williams Guild, Zara Home, Crate & Barrel, and Benjamin Moore, to name a few. But last week he unveiled a collaboration with a smaller but just as stylish company, Morrocan rug startup Beni.

Inspired by a trip to Marrakech and Tangier, King created an 11-piece collection of geometric handmade rugs, dubbed the Shape of Color, all in hues that are reminiscent of the region: a deep midnight blue, rust, and turmeric yellow. Separately they’re stunning, but layered together you can create a one-of-a-kind look that’s all your own. 

Because picking out floor coverings can be confusing (and they’re often big investments), we tapped King for his rug-buying knowledge. “Start practical,” suggests King, “and then get creative.” Here are his five no-nonsense tips for choosing the right rug for your space on the first try. 

Map It Out First

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Photography by Stephen Kent Johnson

“I am a blue-tape-on-the-floor kind of guy,” says King. Before you click buy, he recommends grabbing a tape measure and a roll of painter’s tape to make an outline in exactly the shape of the piece you’re considering. From there you can determine how much furniture you want covering up your rug, which also helps you determine the correct size for your room. King’s cheat sheet: “For smaller rooms, I usually like all the furniture on the rug,” he says. “And in bigger rooms, just the front feet.” 

Take Note of the Pile 

Always take into account the architectural features of your room, such as swinging doors, which might get caught. “I can’t think of a more scathing reminder of that than when I couldn’t fully open or close a door because the pile was too high,” he says. 

To avoid making the same mistake again, King follows this rule: Natural-fiber rugs have a lower pile and are ideal for heavily trafficked areas of the home, and wool rugs with a longer pile are softer and luxurious underfoot, making bedrooms and living rooms more inviting. 

If the Ceiling Is the Fifth Wall, the Floor Is the Sixth

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Photography by Stephen Kent Johnson

Remember that the focal point of a room isn’t always at eye level, says King. “Visually, the floor is the largest open expanse of a room, and it can set the whole tone of the space,” he explains. In other words, if your sofas and chairs are in restrained hues, inject some fun with pattern, color, and texture with a rug. To paraphrase the late Terence Conran, think of them as a piece of art, but for your floor. 

Don’t Limit Yourself to Just One

In an open-concept space, layering rugs in different areas can carve out distinct living spaces. For example, he likes to start with a large natural-fiber rug, then layer up with softer, plusher berbers or kilims to designate various seating areas. Or can’t decide between two? King says to get both and pair them side by side. 

Save for One You Love

It’s worth waiting until the right piece is within your budget. “You should buy the best rug you can afford, even if it means living with bare floors while you save,” recommends King. “A high-quality wool rug will wear well and even look better over time.”

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