Michigan Design
Designer Tip
ideas and inspiration from the professionals


After the floor plan is complete, people often wonder what to tackle next when decorating a room. Donna Brown of Dazzling Designs always starts her interior design process with a decorative hand-woven rug and builds the space using the rug as inspiration.

Dazzling Designs living room
Brown recommends black in every rug because black adds drama to the space.
Dazzling Designs living room
This hand-woven wool rug was placed on top of a high-end wool carpet, creating a luxurious living room.

“I like to start with a hand-woven rug on the floor because that sets the pace of everything in the room and will help drive the colors. It’s the artwork on the floor and it offers a great color scheme to start with for the rest of the space,” says Brown.

The rug selection will help dictate the next steps: color, fabrics, wall finishes, wood pieces, window treatments and accessorizing.

“Selecting a hand-woven rug is like choosing artwork – it’s very personal,” says Brown. Find something you like based on color, design and texture.

Brown recommends taking large rugs home before finalizing a purchase because the rugs may appear to be a different color once in the home.

“We leave the client’s favorite rugs in the house for a couple days so they can see them day and night,” says Brown. Rugs have a light side and a dark side, so based on the knotting and direction of the weave, they might need to be rotated to achieve the correct color. Rugs integrated with silk will have the most substantial change in their light and dark sides, and may look completely different depending on their orientation.

Brown contends that if you start with a rug, you have the opportunity to purchase the best rug for your budget. Rug prices can vary significantly, so she recommends selecting the rug first to ensure it’s perfect for the space.

“I like using a traditional rug in any environment,” says Brown. “It actually looks really cool to take a contemporary space and place a really traditional rug on the floor, then keep everything else contemporary.”

Dazzling Designs living room
The rug helps define and create space in this comfortable living area.

Brown is also a big fan of Tibetan rugs. “They’re not traditional or contemporary – they’re just a little more fun.”

Another tip Brown employs is layering rugs by placing a small antique throw on top of another rug. “I think antique throw rugs are a great accent,” says Brown. “You can take a Tibetan, a traditional hand- woven rug, and an antique and you can make them all work together and everything will flow.”

Although less expensive machine-made or tufted rugs are readily available at retail outlets, the best quality rug is hand-woven, which come in wool or silk, or a combination of the two. “These are basically work horse rugs,” says Brown. “A wool hand-woven rug will last a lifetime. It will outlive anything in a room, and shows luxury again and again.” Machine-made rugs tend to wear out quickly, while the glue backing on tufted rugs will get gritty over time.

Many people are afraid to put a hand-woven rug at an entrance because they’re afraid it will get ruined in a high traffic area, but wool rugs hold up really well and clean easily. “When my kids were little I had a hand woven Tibetan under the kitchen table and if something was spilled on it, it would sit right on top, it wouldn’t soak in,” says Brown. “In 20 years or 50 years it will look as beautiful as the day you brought it home.”

Selecting a beautiful, hand-woven rug provides the perfect starting point when decorating a room. Not only does it serve as inspiration for the color palette and future selections, but it ensures your ability to invest in a higher quality piece that will last a lifetime.

Donna Brown To view information and more photos from Donna Brown, click here



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