By decorating from the ground up, you can match just about any rug with furniture

Recently, we’ve gotten a bunch of new and consigned rugs into Cathy’s Marketplace, so I thought I’d put you to the test. You know I love to start decorating with an area rug because it can ground a space, set the direction for colors and even the decorating style. Now let’s see how well you’ve been paying attention!

First, let’s describe the rugs:

• Champagne-colored fettuccine rug with long, loose, silky strands. It’s your modern, uber-glam shag.
• Traditional Persian wool-and-silk rug with a red base and a pattern of creams, golds, greens and browns.
• Modern island-style rug with a geometric pattern of two-tone green squares mimicking a lauhala-like weave.
• Scratchy, natural-fiber, sandy-colored sisal rug.


Now, let’s describe our living room setting. Our furniture arrangement has two modern wood-and-leather chairs in chocolate brown, a rectangular glass coffee table with an oil-rubbed bronze frame, and a clean-lined, fully upholstered beige sofa with wooden feet.

So, which area rug would work with this grouping?

The answer is all of them! Yes, although all of these rugs are different in style, some accessories, throw pillows and other touches can make this furniture work on almost any rug.

Why would this grouping work with a silky champagne rug? Because both furniture and rug are modern in style. All the pieces are basic in nature, so the fettuccine rug can be the star.

But to give the grouping more of a glam feel to match the rug, you can add in some bling. Crystal candlesticks on the coffee table, a crystal floor lamp, furry throw pillows and glass and silver accents will make this grouping shine and tie in perfectly with this rug.

Next is the traditional Persian rug. This furniture is not quite elaborate enough for the rug, so to make it work, we need to heighten the formality. Try lots of throw pillows with saturated jewel colors. A beautiful throw would enhance the plush feel. With lighting fixtures, go for elaborate styles and gold finishes.


And don’t forget some ornate, traditional accents for the coffee table: candlesticks made of wood, painted metal or gold. Better yet, add some books under the candlesticks. And opt for heavier drapery.

Now, for the geometric pattern rug: The simple, clean lines of this furniture grouping work perfectly with this rug. You don’t need much more. To stay within this style, you want to keep your accessories fairly simple. Adding some throw pillows in deeper greens, browns or even grays would make this setting seem subtly rich and dramatic. Clean-lined lighting fixtures and almost any drapery panel with no fuss would work.

Finally, the sisal rug would be a casual grounding piece for our furniture. Leather and upholstery could be too heavy in visual weight, so you’d want to bring in more casual elements. How? With pillows and lamps that have linen or other natural fibers, natural-looking window treatments, and no heavy throws or pieces.

The key here would be to bring in more casual, earthy elements so the space doesn’t feel too formal for the rug. Playful touches would work well.

So as you can see, you can make just about anything work. I started with a furniture grouping that was pretty basic. Consider the style of your rug and the space you’re trying to create, add from the ground up, and stay on your toes — you never know when I’ll quiz you again!


Cathy Lee is president and designer of Cathy Lee Style and Cathy’s Marketplace, a furniture and accessories showroom with design services at 1110 University Ave. She recently opened reStyle Hawaii, an affordable, style-conscious consignment warehouse with upholstering and repurposing services at 420 Keawe St. in Kakaako. Lee’s interior design work has been featured in local and national publications, on HGTV and in her DIY design workshops. To find out more, go to