You asked…about a rug that works with dining room drapes

Any Gentle Reader who sends me an e-mail saying, “I’ve had a glass of wine and am getting ready for Monday night football…” has a special place in my heart.

Here’s some background information from her original e-mail, to which, tragically, I couldn’t respond right away:

I just discovered your blog and LOVE IT. I’m hoping to write something witty or interesting enough to get your attention and advice. Tonight, I’m going to ask about the dining room.

Background: I live in a beautiful two story Victorian home built in the late 1880s in a historic neighborhood (Grant Park) near downtown Atlanta. There are only a few real two stories in the neighborhood (mostly bungalows) and I have one of the oldest houses in the neighborhood, so I feel like I need to respect the house and its history.

The house was renovated in the 80’s …The next owners did all kinds of unsexy but important work on the house like reinforcing the floor joists and replacing bad exterior boards and repainting…

And here’s the next e-mail:

Hey Annie!
I’ve had a glass of wine and am getting ready for Monday night football, so I thought I’d try to narrow down the request for help in my previous email…

I’m working backwards, as I already have curtains and paint colors I love in my dining room.

The question: what to do for the rug and accessories? The pictures don’t make the paint look great because it’s so dark and I’m a bad photographer. Paint on walls is Restoration Hardware “Slate.” Paint on ceiling is Duron Millenium Plantation Beige.

Floors 100+ year old 5″ pine plank.

I’ve got a great old table with original chairs and my husband’s mom’s china and hutch:

Only other thing to consider is the green tiles in the fireplace:

I hate the fireplace surround, but that’s a conversation for another day (I think). I’m all ears on ideas for rug color and accessories. Also, I could also use help in deciding which metalic collor to use (silver, gold, platinum, bronze, etc.) wherever possible.

Best, Jenna

Dear Jenna,

And this is why we always start with the rug :) No, no: I’m not here to chastise. My job is to help. Happily, we have options.

Your house is beautiful, and I absolutely love these wacky drapes! The back story is so great that I’m going to do a separate post about it, if it’s ok with you.

I also like the wall color, and good for you for painting the ceiling a warm beige. (You know white ceilings aren’t my fave, and they would have made this room feel very cold.)

That’s our primary challenge here: warming up the room. The beige ceiling, gorgeous reddish floors, and wood furniture help a lot, but a rug will help, too. Think warm: camel, gold, orange, dark pink…red is going to be awfully traditional, which leads me to…

Our second challenge, which is adding a dash of modern. You could use a traditional deep red Oriental or Persian rug in here, and it would look lovely. But we don’t want your house to feel like a museum. (Or maybe you do, but you shouldn’t. You’re too young and cool.)


A seagrass or sisal rug is a perfectly acceptable, no-risk solution. It’s not thrilling, but it’s fresh, contemporary without unwanted edginess, and visually if not physically warm.

Choose a herringbone pattern to offset the casual feel, and please do NOT add a contrasting binding (border, edging, etc.) – too beachy. Omit a binding altogether if you can, actually.

From a practical standpoint, it’s easy to move dining room chairs over flatweave rugs. It’s extremely important that you use a rug pad, though; over time, sisal and seagrass act like sandpaper on wooden floors.


A custom-cut carpet in an allover pattern is another option. It’s no edgier than seagrass, but it’s uncontroversial and effective. Robertex is terrific; I use them all the time for wall-to-wall wool carpeting and stair runners. Look at a pattern such as Maggie in the color Tuxedo Park:

A distinct advantage to this approach is that you can get exactly the size you need. Very important in a dining room: the chairs have to be able to slide away from the table without slipping off the rug.


Naturally, I’d love to see you go all out with a contrasting color to jazz things up. Madeleine Weinrib Atelier is the place to go for beautiful, colorful cotton flatweaves. (Dash & Albert is great for cotton stripes, but that’s too beachy for you.)

Here is Madeliene Weinrib’s Rose Mandala:

Coral Otto:

Orange Brooke, which would blend into the floor in a good way:

The Indigo Chi Chi Kari is subtle and elegant:

A bit more whimsical is the Stilton Jellybaby – the background color will NOT match the walls exactly, and that’s ok:

And for the bossiest of all, the Celery Olivia. I actually love this color with grey, and remember, it will be underfoot, not right in your face:

Colorful art – watercolors, oils, pastels – will be critical in pulling the room together. I’m picturing contemporary but representational pieces in gilded frames. No mirror unless it’s in a big fat gold frame…even then, though, mirrors can be cold.

Good luck, Jenna! Please let us know what you decide.


  1. Jenna says

    OMG, I can't believe I made it into your blog! Your suggestions were sooooooooo great and totally helpful.

    I've read your entire blog–going back to the beginning! It's great because your writing is both detailed enough that I can make interesting choices, but also conceptual enough that I'm not going to buy something totally wrong! I feel empowered enough to go execute on my own–once I've been Bossed.

    W/r/t you Bossing on my dining room–yes I'm too young and cool to have a boring museum house. So, I completely agree about warming it up and not being too traditional.

    I found the perfect sisal rug at the first store I went to. So, check on the sisel rug. Glad I got it right with no borders. The Boss on the rug pad is very good to know, I'll go get one of those.

    I also LOVE LOVE LOVE this suggestion "And for the bossiest of all, the Celery Olivia. I actually love this color with grey, and remember, it will be underfoot, not right in your face"

    Instead of the floor though, I think that I'm going to put it on a painting in your face. Ages ago I was an art major and have a bunch of clean canvases in the next room that I've been meaning to do something with…. Promise to send pics of them once up.

    Thanks for all your help! I normally don't like getting Bossed (ask my husband, boss, or parents), but this has been a GREAT (and really fun) experience.

    BTW–I won my Fantasy football game on Monday night!

  2. web design Los Angeles says

    You are so lucky living in an historical house such as this one. The pattern and the fabrics are very well decided. It looks beautiful.

  3. Annie, bossy color says

    Sharon, SO RIGHT: whenever you already have something fabulous – in this case, the drapes – you start with that. But the next step would have been the rug, not the paint color, agreed? Thank you so much for leaving the comment!

  4. Annie, bossy color says

    Jenna – that's the best comment ever! Thank you! So glad to be of help – it's a great house, and we've established that those drapes were totally worth saving. Thanks again for the dilemma, and for this great feedback.

  5. Nicholas Sullivan says

    i just wanted to say how much i enjoy reading your blog. in a world full of spin, it's nice to get some fact-based analysis.
    keep up the good work.

    Core Drilling

  6. discount area rug says

    You have pretty ideas here that are so helpful! I am glad I found your blog!

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