A popular highlight of our recent Industry Insights event series was from creator of unique and individual handmade heirloom rugs, Jennifer Manners (Jennifer Manners Design) on how to commission a bespoke rug. Since each rug is handmade anyway, to create a bespoke piece can be surprisingly affordable and accessible; here are Jennifer’s tips on the five elements you have to make sure you get right to create the perfect piece!
Rugs enhance and emphasise the style of a room, so begin by defining the overall feel you’re trying to create in the room – for example fun, elegant, expansive, modern, or minimalistic – and then choose the rug to enhance that mood. A large, boldly-patterned rug will give the room a much more energetic, playful or lighthearted feeling, whereas a tonal rug in muted, neutral colours will lend a sense of calm and luxury to your design.
This is where it’s very easy to make a mistake – regardless of how good the rug design is, a piece that’s too big or too small will fight with the dynamics of the design space and create an unsettling and uneasy feeling, which you clearly want to avoid! Two good rules of thumb for balancing a rug with a space are as follows: firstly, furniture should be partially or wholly on the rug; secondly, the rug should be centered in the space – the distance from the edge of the rug to the walls should be equal on all sides, which has a bearing on the length and width of your specification. Combining these two general guidelines will give you a good starting point for sizing your piece and, most importantly, allow the rug to stand out as a layer of personality in the space, whether you’ve opted for a toned design for a subtler feel or a bold pattern as a focus point.
Getting the look and size of the rug right is essential to creating and enhancing the overall feeling of the space, but it’s easy to forget that tactility is an equally important factor, so the final – and most overlooked – aspect of specifying your bespoke rug is matching the texture to the space. A rug can open up a room or bring a cosy, intimate atmosphere to the space depending on the material, so it’s important that your material selection matches the overall theme. If you’re aiming for luxury, a high knot-count wool or bamboo silk is rich and dense (perfect for sinking your toes into!) – or if you’re looking for a more casual or fun feel in a room, a pileless all-wool flatweave will be more lighthearted and easygoing.
This is probably the most common question we get asked, which is understandable, as a bespoke rug is often an heirloom piece that will last for many years. A rug in a high-traffic area or a room for children (or messy adults!) obviously needs to be more wear- and stain-resistant than a rug in a space that will see lower footfall or that’s less susceptible to spills. Wool is the most resilient material because the naturally high lanolin content prevents stains penetrating the surface, so it’s a great option for the busier parts of a design space. We use MicroSeal on most of our rugs to increase the stain resistance – this reinforces the natural stain resistance of the material without affecting the appearance or texture of the rug, and also helps to protect against UV and moth damage.
Bespoke rugs are a significant investment, so make sure you buy something that you (and your client!) absolutely love. With many design studios now offering bespoke options, you can not only specify a rug that’s the perfect size, scale and pattern for the space, but a rug that’s also beautiful, personal, an expression of the design spirit and a piece that you’ll keep for generations.
Discover the Jennifer Manners Design catalogue here.