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.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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A Killer Golf Swing Is a Hot Job Skill Now

Companies are eager to hire strong players who use hybrid work schedules to schmooze clients on the course

Fri, Jun 14, 2024 5 min

Standout golfers who aren’t quite PGA Tour material now have somewhere else to play professionally: Corporate America.

People who can smash 300-yard drives and sink birdie putts are sought-after hires in finance, consulting, sales and other industries, recruiters say. In the hybrid work era, the business golf outing is back in a big way.

Executive recruiter Shawn Cole says he gets so many requests to find ace golfers that he records candidates’ handicaps, an index based on average number of strokes over par, in the information packets he submits to clients. Golf alone can’t get you a plum job, he says—but not playing could cost you one.

“I know a guy that literally flies around the world in a private jet loaded with French wine, and he golfs and lands hundred-million-dollar deals,” Cole says.

Tee times and networking sessions have long gone hand-in-golf-glove. Despite criticism that doing business on the course undermines diversity, equity and inclusion efforts—and the fact that golf clubs haven’t always been open to women and minorities —people who mix golf and work say the outings are one of the last reprieves from 30-minute calendar blocks

Stars like Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie West helped expand participation in the sport. Still, just 22% of golfers are nonwhite and 26% are women, according to the National Golf Foundation.

To lure more people, clubs have relaxed rules against mobile-phone use on the course, embracing white-collar professionals who want to entertain clients on the links without disconnecting from the office. It’s no longer taboo to check email from your cart or take a quick call at the halfway turn.

With so much other business conducted virtually, shaking hands on the green and schmoozing over clubhouse beers is now seen as making an extra effort, not slacking off.

Americans played a record 531 million rounds last year. Weekday play has nearly doubled since 2019, with much of the action during business hours , according to research by Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom .

“It would’ve been scandalous in 2019 to be having multiple meetings a week on the golf course,” Bloom says. “In 2024, if you’re producing results, no one’s going to see anything wrong with it.”

A financial adviser at a major Wall Street bank who competes on the amateur circuit told me he completes 90% of his tasks by 10 a.m. because he manages long-term investment plans that change infrequently. The rest of his workday often involves golfing with clients and prospects. He’s a member of a private club with a multiyear waiting list, and people jump at the chance to join him on a course they normally can’t access.

There is an art to bringing in business this way. He never initiates shoptalk, telling his playing partners the round is about having fun and getting to know each other. They can’t resist asking about investment strategies by the back nine, he says.

Work hard, play hard

Matt Parziale golfed professionally on minor-league tours for several years, but when his dream of making the big time ended, he had to get a regular job. He became a firefighter, like his dad.

A few years later he won one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the country, earning spots in the 2018 Masters and U.S. Open, where he tied for first among non-pros.

The brush with celebrity brought introductions to business types that Parziale, 35 years old, says he wouldn’t have met otherwise. One connection led to a job with a large insurance broker. In 2022 he jumped to Deland, Gibson Insurance Associates in Wellesley, Mass., which recognised his golf game as a tool to help win large accounts.

He rescheduled our interview because he was hosting clients at a private club on Cape Cod, and squeezed me in the next morning, before teeing off with a business group in Newport, R.I.

A short time ago, Parziale couldn’t imagine making a living this way. Now he’s the norm in elite amateur golf circles.

“I look around at the guys at the events I play, and they all have these jobs ,” he says.

His boss, Chief Executive Chip Gibson, says Parziale is good at bringing in business because he puts as much effort into building relationships as honing his game. A golf outing is merely an opportunity to build trust that can eventually lead to a deal, and it’s a misconception that people who golf during work hours don’t work hard, he says.

Barry Allison’s single-digit handicap is an asset in his role as a management consultant at Accenture , where he specialises in travel and hospitality. He splits time between Washington, D.C., and The Villages, Fla., a golf mecca that boasts more than 50 courses.

It can be hard to get to know people in distributed work environments, he says. Go golfing and you’ll learn a lot about someone’s temperament—especially after a bad shot.

“If you see a guy snap a club over his knee, you don’t know what he’s going to snap next,” Allison says.

Special access

On a recent afternoon I was a lunch guest at Brae Burn Country Club, a private enclave outside Boston that was the site of U.S. Golf Association championships won by legends like Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. I parked in the second lot because the first one was full—on a Wednesday.

My host was Cullen Onstott, managing director of the Onstott Group executive search firm and a former collegiate golfer at Fairfield University. He explained one reason companies prize excellent golfers is they can put well-practiced swings on autopilot and devote most of their attention to chitchat.

It’s hard to talk with potential customers about their needs and interests when you’re hunting for errant shots in the woods. It’s also challenging if you show off.

The first hole at Brae Burn is a 318-yard par 4 that slopes down, enabling big hitters like Onstott to reach the putting green in a single stroke. But to stay close to his playing partners and keep the conversation flowing, he sometimes hits a shorter shot.

Having an “in” at an exclusive club can make you a catch. Bo Burch, an executive recruiter in North Carolina, says clubs in his region tend to attract members according to their business sectors. One might be chock-full of real-estate investors while another has potential buyers of industrial manufacturing equipment.

Burch looks for candidates who are members of clubs that align with his clients’ industries, though he stresses that business acumen comes first when filling positions.

Tami McQueen, a former Division I tennis player and current chief marketing officer at Atlanta investment firm BIP Capital, signed up for private golf lessons this year. She had noticed colleagues were wearing polos with course logos and bringing their clubs to work. She wanted in.

McQueen joined business associates on the golf course for the first time in March at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. She has lowered her handicap to a respectable 26 and says her new skill lends a professional edge.

“To be able to say, ‘I can play with you and we can have those business meetings on the course’ definitely opens a lot more doors,” she says.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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