HR-070316-Cathy-2Design is all about details — even when the details are so subtle you might not notice them at first. But when you do, things fall into place and you go, “aha!”

I was reorganizing a storage closet where I keep area rug samples and came across the perfect illustration for today’s tip. In the top photo, I’ve laid out the rug tiles with the pattern and pile going in the same direction.

In the photo at right, I turned all the samples around so that the lay of the pile is going in a different direction.


Suddenly the colors become more muted, and so does the design. Why? Because of the way the rug is made and how the light is hitting it.

Just as your pet dog or cat’s fur lays a certain way, the pile of many rugs lay a certain way. In this rug, the wavy lines of the pattern are made of a silken material. It doesn’t matter if the silk is real or synthetic — the sheen will look different from different angles.
You won’t notice this as much when a rug is displayed vertically in a showroom. And because of the way the light hits them when they’re hanging, the colors won’t look nearly as distinct as when they’re on the floor.

So when you’re buying an area rug, ask for it to be taken down and laid flat, and look at it from different angles.

Then when you get it into your home, decide which way you want it to face. Do you want to showcase the pattern more, or the sheen?


Unless you’re buying a rug to float in the center of a room that will be seen from all sides, most area rugs will have one prominent vantage point. You’ll see it mostly from the doorway, or peeking out from beneath your furniture.

These considerations will help you determine which rug you buy and how you place it. It’s all about the details!

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit And keep up with Cathy’s dream home makeover at her photo blog, Homefront.