Can a Rug Make a Room Look Bigger? Is Wall-to-Wall Ever OK? Your Carpet Questions, Answered
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Can a Rug Make a Room Look Bigger? Is Wall-to-Wall Ever OK? Your Carpet Questions, Answered

The wrong carpet can ruin a room. We gathered expert advice so you can nail this fundamental and often most expensive element of your interior design.

Sat, Sep 30, 2023 7:30amGrey Clock 5 min
1. Can a rug make my small room look bigger?

Yes. Get the largest rug possible so it defines the room as one big, inviting space. Optimally, the visible perimeter of floor is no wider than 8 or 9 inches. Size tip: Designers consider a 9-foot-by-12-foot rug—which will fill a small living room and can visually anchor a queen-size bed in most bedrooms—the most versatile size to repurpose if you someday move to a new home. In a living room make sure the carpet is at least big enough that the front two legs of the sofa and armchairs in the main seating area can sit on it. And always match its shape to the shape of the room. “Don’t put a square rug in a rectangular room, because it will make everything look off-balance,” said rug consultant Elisabeth Poole Parker, a former vice president at Christie’s New York and international head of the auction house’s carpet department.

2. Any advice on runners?

Patterns hide stains in high-traffic areas like entryways, staircases and the kitchen (where they add color to an aisle between prep island and sink). Give a runner breathing room without making it look like a skinny Band-Aid. Ideal margins in a hallway are 4 to 5 inches, says antique-rug seller Georgia Hoyler, of Passerine in Washington, D.C. “Tape it out on the floor before you buy to be sure it will feel proportional.” On stairs, 3 to 4 inches suffices, as in the space above designed by Liz Caan, of Newton, Mass. Multiple runners in a single room, or throughout a home, are easy to mix and match if you choose rugs with the same color palette and patterns similar in scale and shape, says Kate Marker, an interior designer in Barrington, Ill.

3. Did Aladdin have a flying carpet?

No. Disney invented it. In the Arabian Nights stories, Aladdin had a magic lamp. (The magic carpet belonged to Prince Hussain, a character in a different tale.) “But in the film, Disney juiced up the romantic angle of the story with an escape on a magic carpet,” said Jack Zipes, a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota.

4. Can cheap rugs look expensive? How?

Here are three ways.

A.Buy an inexpensive, neutral room-size rug made of a natural fiber such as sisal (which costs as little as $1.50 a square foot), then center a pricier, but smaller, rug on top of it. “The space will be defined by the larger sisal rug, so the rug on top doesn’t need to be big enough to sit under the furniture to look amazing,” said Nadia Watts, an interior designer in Denver who frequently employs this strategy if clients bring along a favorite rug when they move to a new home.

B. Another technique: Find a vintage carpet with a beautiful patina going cheap due to rips or stains and cut it down to create a runner or a foot-of-the-bed rug. A rug installer can bind the rug’s perimeter with a selvage stitch to prevent threads from unraveling.

C. If your layout includes a long, narrow room, commonly found in brownstones and other row houses, search for a vintage or antique rug in what is known as a gallery size. Frequently woven during decades and centuries past, their quirky dimensions (5 feet by 10 feet or 8 feet by 17 feet, for example) make these rugs harder to sell and therefore inexpensive to buy relative to their size, says Jason Nazmiyal, an antique-rug dealer in Manhattan.

5. Etsy sells a bazillion rugs and a lot of them look great on my screen. How do I avoid getting ripped off when buying a carpet I haven’t seen IRL from someone I don’t know?

Start by sleuthing before you shop. Research rug types and styles to zero in on what you like, and then do enough window shopping online to train your eye to recognize the difference between a good and a bad example when you see it. Now you’re ready for Etsy, where you will continue to behave like Sherlock Holmes.

  • Research the seller. Comb through customer reviews for red flags.
  • Pose questions. For instance, if a rug is described as “vintage,” (which Etsy defines as at least 20 years old) ask the seller to pinpoint the decade or year the rug was made.
  • Ask for more pictures. You want photos taken in natural light, to give you a real sense of color; close-up photos of any damage, uneven wear or alterations; and even photos of the backside. “Ask a seller to flip it over and take a photo, so you can see the knots and whether the fringe is an actual part of the rug—which would confirm it’s hand knotted—or something applied afterward,” said Bailey Ward, an interior designer in Atlanta.
6. Materials matter. May I have a cheat sheet, please?


Considered the gold standard for rugs, this natural fibre appears in tufted and flatweave rugs in virtually any colour or design. Soft underfoot and stain-resistant, wool can last a lifetime (or longer—some antique wool rugs are hundreds of years old).


Woven from agave-plant fibres, sisal is a neutral tan colour that works well as a quiet backdrop for colourful, patterned furnishings. “It has a casual look that is a very nice contrast in a formal living room,” said interior designer Ward.


A delicate luxury fibre with a beautiful sheen, silk belongs in a low-traffic bedroom. “Like a silk blouse, a silk rug should be dry cleaned” to avoid damaged fibres, says Scott Johnston, owner of Carpet Care of the Carolinas in Raleigh, N.C.


Made from recycled plastics, this durable material comes in any colour or pattern and is easy to clean, stain-resistant and a good choice for outdoor rugs. However, tufted polypropylene rugs “just don’t bounce back after cleaning,” said Johnston.


A fluffy fibre, cotton has an airy look but requires frequent cleaning because it quickly exhibits any and all signs of dirt and wear. For that reason, the most practical cotton rugs are those small enough to fit into a laundry machine.

7. Rug pads are like the orthotics of rugs. What’s the best kind?

“Without a thick protective pad, you’ll grind grit into the rug and wear down its foundation,” warned carpet-care expert Johnston. The best are at least 1/4-inch thick with a layer of felt atop a nonskid rubber backing, he says. Feel free to use one of those cheap, 1/8-inch thick, waffle-weave rubber things they sell at hardware stores if you have a tight fit beneath a door. In such cases, “even a thin pad is better than no pad—think of it like a sock keeping your shoe from causing a blister,” said antique-rug seller Hoyler.

8. Are rugs in the kitchen totally ick?

Don’t assume a kitchen rug is unsanitary, said Manhattan interior designer Sasha Bikoff, who has an antique French Aubusson in her own kitchen (between the island and the sink where it provides a cushioned surface for anyone doing the dishes). Wool rugs are super durable and don’t absorb liquid quickly, so it’s easy to wipe spills. “So live a little bit,” she said, adding that a patterned rug “is a cozy way to add pattern and color” to a room where stainless steel and cold stone surfaces would otherwise dominate the décor.

9. Is wall-to-wall carpet ever not cheesy?

Yes, it can be quite chic in a bedroom, where it can turn a room into a sanctuary. “We use it because it feels cozy, and it brings a softness to a space,” said interior designer Watts. Perhaps for that reason, “for the most part, today wall-to-wall carpet has been primarily relegated to bedrooms,” said Jamie Welborn, a senior vice president at flooring manufacturer Mohawk Industries. Make that a lot of bedrooms: Wall-to-wall carpeting still covers 35% of the square footage in American homes, Welborn says.

10. Nearly every town has a rug store that’s been going out of business for 10 years. Why?

Because they have no intention of actually going out of business. They’re trying to lure customers who assume they are desperate merchants offering rock-bottom prices. “Rugs are a product category that people buy rarely, so these stores are not trying to build a loyal customer base,” said Katrijn Gielens, professor of marketing at the University of North Carolina. In reality? Prices may be marked up.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Car Dealers on Why Some Customers Hesitate With EVs

Concern about electric vehicles’ appeal is mounting as some customers show a reluctance to switch

Mon, Dec 11, 2023 4 min

Auto dealers across many parts of the country say electric vehicles are becoming too hard a sell for buyers worried about the range, reliability and price of these models.

When Paul LaRochelle heard Ford Motor was coming out with an electric pickup truck, the dealer was excited about the prospects for his business.

“We thought we could build a million of them and sell them,” said LaRochelle, a vice president at Sheehy Auto Stores, which sells vehicles from a dozen brands in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

The reality has been less positive. On Sheehy’s car lots, LaRochelle says there is a six- to 12-month supply of EVs, compared with a month of gasoline-powered vehicles.

With automakers set to release a barrage of new electric models in the coming years, concerns are mounting among auto retailers about whether the technology will have broader appeal given that many customers are still reluctant to make the switch.

Battery-powered models have been piling up on car lotsdealers say, as EV sales growth has slowed in the U.S. this year. Car companies have been offering a combination of discounts and lower interest-rate deals in an effort to juice demand. But it hasn’t been enough, because buyer reticence extends beyond the price tag, dealers say.

“I’m not hearing the consumer confidence in the technology,” said Mary Rice, dealer principal at Toyota of Greensboro in North Carolina. “People aren’t beating down the door to buy these things, and they all have a different excuse why they aren’t buying one.”

Customers cite concerns about vehicles burning through a battery charge faster in cold weather or not being able to travel as far as they expected on a single charge, dealers say. Potential buyers also worry that chargers aren’t as readily accessible as gas stations or might be broken.

Franchise dealerships fear that the push to roll out new models will inundate them with hard-to-sell vehicles. Research firm S&P Global Mobility said there are 56 EV models for sale in the U.S. this year, and the number is expected to nearly double to 100 next year.

“I start to think, you know maybe we should just all pump the brakes a little bit,” Rice said.

A group of dealers expressed their concerns about the government’s role in pushing electric vehicles in a letter last month to President Biden.

A Toyota Motor spokesman said the majority of dealers have become “increasingly more confident in their ability to sell Toyota EV products.”

At Ford, the company’s electric-vehicle sales are rising, including for its F-150 Lightning pickup, but demand isn’t evenly spread across the country, according to a spokesman.

Dealers say that after selling an EV, they sometimes hear complaints about charging and the vehicles not always meeting their advertised range. In some cases, customers seek to return them to the dealer shortly after buying them.

“We have a steady number of clients that have attempted to or flat out returned their car,” said Sheehy’s LaRochelle.

While EVs remain a small but rapidly expanding part of the new-car market, the pace of growth has slowed this year. Electric-vehicle sales increased 48% in the first 11 months, compared with a 69% jump during the same period in 2022, according to Motor Intelligence. Sales remain concentrated in a few states, with California accounting for the largest chunk, S&P Global Mobility data found.

The cooling growth has raised broader questions in the industry about whether car companies face a temporary hurdle or a longer-term demand challenge. Automakers have invested billions of dollars to bring more EV models to the market, and many analysts and car executives say they remain optimistic that sales will continue to expand.

“Although the rate of growth has slowed recently, EV demand is clearly moving in the right direction,” said General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra on a recent conference call with analysts. A combination of more affordable model options and better charging infrastructure would help encourage more people to buy electric vehicles, she said.

There are also varying views within the dealer community about how quickly buyers will adopt the technology.In hot spots for electric-vehicle demand, such as Los Angeles, dealers say their battery-powered models are some of their top sellers. Those popular EV markets also tend to have more mature public charging networks.

Selling an electric car or truck outside of those demand centres is proving more difficult.

Longtime EV owner Carmella Roehrig thought she was ready to go full-electric and sold her backup gasoline vehicle. But after the 62-year-old North Carolina resident found herself stranded last year in a rural area of South Carolina, she changed her mind. Roehrig’s Tesla Model S got a flat tire, but none of the stores in the area carried tires for a Tesla. She ended up paying a worker at a nearby shop to drive her home.

Roehrig still has her Tesla but bought a pickup truck for long road trips.

Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“I have these conversations with people who say we’ll all be in EVs in 15 years. I say: ‘I’m not so sure. I’ve tried to do it,’” Roehrig said. “I think you need a gas backup.”

Customers who want to ditch their gas vehicle for environmental reasons are sometimes hesitant, said Mickey Anderson, president of Baxter Auto Group, which owns dealerships in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado.

“We’re in the Colorado Springs market. If this is your sole mode of transportation, and you’re in a market in extremes of elevation and temperature, the actual range is very limited,” Anderson said. “It makes it extremely impractical.”

Dealers representing around 4,000 stores across the U.S. signed the letter in November addressed to Biden, saying the administration’s proposed auto-emissions regulations designed to promote electric-vehicle sales are unrealistic. The signatories ranged from stores owned by family businesses to publicly held giants such as AutoNation and Lithia Motors.

“Some customers are in the market for electric vehicles, and we are thrilled to sell them. But the majority of customers are simply not ready to make the change,” the letter said.

Some carmakers are pushing back EV-rollout plans. GM said in mid-October that it would delay the opening of an electric pickup plant by a year to late 2025. In response to weaker-than-expected consumer demand, Ford said in late October that it would defer $12 billion of planned spending on electric-vehicle investment.

Since September, dealers on average took more than two months to sell an EV, compared with 40 days for all vehicles, according to car-shopping website Edmunds.

While discounts have helped boost sales of some electric vehicles, they also have led to repercussions for some current owners because it reduces the value of their vehicles, dealers say.

“Most people don’t have the confidence to buy an EV and know what it will be worth in 10-15 years,” said Rice from the Toyota dealership.

It may take some time for the industry to adjust because it is still in an early stage of switching to electric vehicles, Sheehy’s LaRochelle said.

“We’re asking for this market to grow organically,” he said.


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Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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