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Pairing Patterns With an Oriental Rug

If you’re lucky enough to have an authentic Oriental Rug, you want to hang onto that baby until it’s time to hand it down to the grandchildren. So when a friend asked me the other day how to make other patterns work with an Oriental floor covering, I gave her this very helpful article.

No matter what its color, scale, origin or pattern is, a good-quality Oriental rug never goes out of style, and it works with just about any design scheme. But there are a few secrets to showcasing it at its best.

1. Keep patterns in the same color family.

You can’t go wrong with visual echoes, as this living space testifies, and this strategy is an effective way to fold a series of patterns into a pleasing package. Layers of blue tie a busy Oriental rug together with patterned pillows and a grid of artwork.

2. Celebrate the art of the clash.

This homeowner didn’t even try to pretend to match the pink throw pillow to the rug beneath, and the result displays an irresistible swagger. The key is not to include too many mismatched patterns — if you go overboard, you’ll create a sense of chaos rather than confidence.

3. Dilute the effect with neutrals.

Two separate Orientals, plus a global-print blanket tossed over the headboard, are separated by generous swaths of white wall paint and hardwood flooring to keep them from overwhelming each other.

4. Keep the setting monochromatic.

The walls, sofas, draperies, pillows and flooring in this space all have a similar orange cast that allows the rug to take center stage. Although there’s a hint of pattern in the textiles, it remains in the background.

5. Combine classics.

Timeless patterns — plaids, zebra, paisley — mingle in this masculine sitting area, underpinned by the lush Oriental carpet. Like a Chanel suit and a pair of spectator pumps, classic motifs and pieces will always work well together.

6. Repeat rug colors in the furniture.

The rich reds and blues in this Oriental rug are carried out in the blue sofa and red Chinese-style chest. Despite the other patterns thrown into the mix, the overall effect remains unified.

7. Pay attention to scale.

A medium-scale pattern on this rug contrasts with a much smaller one on the chair upholstery and a larger one on the draperies. Varying the scale provides an ebb-and-flow energy that brings the room to life and ensures that its patterns don’t compete.

8. Add a little whimsy.

A cheeky rooster print on the armchair in this space nods to the cottage-meets-traditional setting. It’s unself-conscious and completely at ease, and that helps the patterns get along.