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Ask Maria: How do I Find a New Area Rug to work with my Old Furniture?

By 06/08/2014January 28th, 201719 Comments

Ask Maria


Since many of us are now incorporating fresh and happy colours into our homes, I have started seeing a lot of living rooms with bright new geometric area rugs that mostly don’t relate to the upholstery in the room.

You don’t want a look in your living room that screams “Old, tired sofa, happy new area rug!”.

One of my readers was looking for an area rug to go with her green/brown, earthy furniture.

So I found her one.

And then I came across this question with a sofa that was very similar except more gold-beige this time.

And here is my readers dilemma:

“. .  I am mostly stuck in having to incorporate my old sofa and chaise for now but with the ability to change them out without having to redo everything.  The sofa has a golden undertone (in spite of it looking kinda pink in some of these pics, I swear) and the walls behind it are painted a soft gray green, but everything else, including ceilings are the standard pink beige.

I am hoping for confirmation or other suggestions for:

1) wall and ceiling color,

2) accent colors that work with my sofa  

3) color(s) I should lean toward for a rug.  I am driving everyone crazy with how many pillows and rugs I have been bringing in and out of our home!”

photo 4

So here’s why this area rug still doesn’t work.

It looks like “New area rug–old furniture”. Like you’re working too hard to make sure the new rug will work when you buy new furniture.

First of all, in order to pull this area rug into the room, your throw pillows need more purple in them. Something like this one:


But the same problem would still exist. Yesterday and today, all in one space.

photo 2

One more thing. To make your space sing, even if you’re going for a monochromatic scheme, you need CONTRAST.

Don’t introduce pillows that blend in with your existing sofa. And if they arrived with your sofa, ditch them immediately!

If you’re doing an all green and cream palette for example, your pillows should have way more cream in them than the colour of your sofa. In the cream and green pillow above, there is still more green in this fabric than cream.

The best way to make your old furniture work with newer, brighter colours is to repeat the colour in the area rug. Especially if you want a more updated area rug:

Something like this one:

area rug

Ask Maria And here’s some coordinating throw pillows. You can see that there’s just enough of the sofa colour in the first pattern to tie the colours together and then the second pillow is mostly blue, the accent colour of the space. It could also be a solid, I just liked this overall off-white and turquoise pillow.

If we needed more pillows, we could introduce some plain off-white ones too.

Now we have contrast. Your existing wall colour works but because you have so much brown in the room a turquoise to coordinate with your area rug and cushions could also work.

It’s much easier to simply buy all new furniture than to makeover old furniture and make it look fresh again, but if you keep this one simple rule in mind, you’ll get much further to creating a look and feel you love:

Repeat the colour in the room.

You cannot ignore four pieces of upholstery all done in the same solid, earthy fabric and expect to love your living room. Either start again NOW or buy a relatively inexpensive area rug and pillows and give your furniture some extra life.

Happy Decorating! Follow me here on my Facebook Fan Page to see more decorating tips.

If you have a question for my Ask Maria series, clean up your room, take a photo in natural daylight WITHOUT FLASH and email me here.

Happy Monday my lovelies! xo Maria



Related posts:

4 Colour Guidelines for Choosing an Area Rug

How to Mix Yesterday with Today in your Renovation

The Key to Great Design is Contrast

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in the door, become a client. On-line or In-person.

To get your exterior colours right, download my How to Choose Exterior Colours with Confidence webinar and get my go-to list of colours.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want and to make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. 

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  • Lindsey says:

    Great post! Do solid color rugs work the same way? If the client in your post had a solid white rug, would the pillows then need to be mostly white, with a little bit of the couch color thrown in?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Not sure if that would be the most beautiful room in the world with just a plain white rug but technically yes.

  • Mary-Illinios says:

    Maria, how long did you sit in front of your computer to find the perfect rug & pillows? Not long I bet.
    I can relate to you reader. Finding the perfect things for your home is exhausting for us amateurs.

    Can I offer another suggestion? Maybe she could break up her “set” of furniture by relocating a piece or two to different rooms. And maybe bring in other pieces from other areas of her home. That could bring in more interest.
    Cute picture of you & your sister. Belongs in a frame!

  • franki says:

    Mary-Illinois…that is what I do!! I change “things” from every room as they all “somewhat blend”…watch out..bed in the kitchen…who knows!?!?! franki

  • Lauren Tyson says:

    It’s good to know there’s a solution to helping out a lone sofa. I’m not seeing any purple in that one recommended throw pillow, though. Am I missing something? Couldn’t that gold sofa use some deeper colors with it?

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    And…a Happy (belated) Birthday to you Maria!
    how could I miss it–I was with you a couple years ago on that day!
    This post really helped me today. I was given a down filled sofa recently that is covered with light (yes, slightly pink) beige silk/linen. Comfortable as all get out, but full of hard packed matching cushions, which have bugged me since day 1. Thanks for permission to ditch them! I am! I just
    ordered a Karastan area rug in a Zebra pattern (if you look at it, the Karastan photos show it as black/white, but it really is tan/black). I’m waiting for that to arrive and then will take your advice here and look for contrasting pillows that pull in some of the rug color and linen white from the walls. Do you think that’ll work?

    • Loribeth says:

      I kept the pillows that came with my sofa. I actually ordered them in the exact same fabric as the sofa rather than a coordinating fabric, because I figured I could throw them on other chairs in the living room. But I think what I’m going to do is find some fantastic fabric and make some covers for them.

      • Connie Nikiforoff Designs says:

        I frequently do that too Loribeth. Re-using the pillows that come with the sofa are very easy to recover. Only a half yard of fabric is required for the project unless they’re unusually large throw pillows. Even an expensive fabric won’t be that costly with such a little amount. So you can get something truly wonderful 🙂

  • Maggie S says:

    I’m glad you mentioned your “Fix Your Colours” series on Facebook –because I have not seen any of them in my news feed.
    I just read that Facebook is only showing posts to 7% of your subscribers and the way to get to see more posts from a particular person/organization is for the receiver to “like” and re-post the information. I just went to your FB page and “liked” all of your past Fix Your Colours posts –I hope that will let me see your posts in the future.

  • sandyc says:

    Love this series, Maria. It’s like being in a mini-class with you several times a week. You explain things so well and challenge us to see what you see and think through your solutions (granted, computer monitors are a big problem), but even better, you give us practical suggestions to work successfully with what we have when we can’t change it or when we’re madly in love with it. Even when the post involves colors that aren’t mine or items that aren’t my current focus, I learn the principles and get inspiration.

    And that bed in the bath – looks like it’s in a cabin in the mountains (they do have them in Texas) and I could only stand it if I were spending a few days on a getaway (and then I’d want to be outside in the light). Way too claustrophobic for me otherwise!

  • Susan S says:

    Thank you for yet another “educating” post. Looks like a fun time was had by all at your birthday bash! Hey, I even noticed that the martini drink coordinated! Tee outdid herself! Sorry, Tee, I can never remember how to spell out full name–one too many “e”s! The millet cake was so cute!

  • Lana Gagnon says:

    great post!

  • teresa says:

    Great post as usual…and Happy Belated B’day felliow Gemini!!!
    I might add to the bathroom discussion that we’re only seeing a sink? (Haven’t read the entire post.) Growing up in Belgium most newer houses had a sink in at least one of the bedrooms, either in the open or behind a closet door. It was actually very convenient.

  • Linda says:

    Happy Birthday Maria! You look so beautiful..more like 30’s than 40’s.

  • Sat Hari says:

    Thank you, Maria! You’re amazing.
    Just curious, do you buy a lot online and have it work most of the time or stick to purchasing things you can see and touch? Perhaps online buying is a skill that can be developed?
    Have a good one!!

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