Skip to main content
Ask Maria

Ask Maria: I’m Worried my Area Rug is Wrong!! (It was $10,000)

By 01/12/2016November 16th, 201631 Comments

black and white room


I’m starting a new series, I’ve been answering random questions in my Ask Maria posts for a few years and I thought I’d switch it up a little and instead focus on rooms that are BOTHERING you.

I often receive emails where readers are stuck, and this could be for one of three reasons:

You decided (or perhaps were forced because of budget) to keep something that you didn’t love and you started building the entire room around it and now you’re not happy with how it’s looking and don’t know what to do next.

Decorating is not your gift (just like accounting and bookkeeping is definitely NOT mine) and you’ve bought a few things, perhaps stuck to neutrals hoping that would be safe and now the room is just blah and you don’t know what to do next.

You’ve moved into a house that is perfect size for what you need, perhaps it’s in a great neighbourhood for your kids but the style is different from what you’ve ever had before, you’ve started decorating but now you’re just stumped.

If you fall into any of these 3 categories, and have a room that you’re stuck on, email a photo here taken without flash and in good natural light. Clean it up as well, it won’t make it on the blog if it’s hard to see what you’re talking about because the room is a disaster.

I’ve seen literally thousands of living rooms over the years in every size and style so it’s easy for me to spot what might be making you lose sleep at night.

Her question was basically this:

“Maria, how can I make this rug work? I’m worried it was the wrong choice and it was $10,000. After reading your blog for days, I’m convinced you’re the only one who can help me! I’ll buy new black ones if you think that will work but right now I’m looking at some off-white fabric samples.”


Your floors are very dark so I would not recommend more black, especially since your piano is also black which makes the room feel heavy. I would love to see you introduce some colour, like a strong yellow or teal or green or fuscia or purple to balance the large scale geometric pattern in the rug.


via JimmieMartin


Pink with large scale geometric (interior by Kelly Wearstler)

 “This means the french chairs probably have to go somewhere else (or if they stay in the room, they can’t be the focal point like they are now) as well your glass table should be switched out for something more solid looking to tone down the large pattern.

Right now your rug looks too modern with your more traditional living room, etc, but that’s also because your rug looks new while everything else looks old in comparison.”


via Elle Decor

 “Once you add the right colourful sofa in there, with perhaps some chairs that have another pattern but in a larger scale as well (above) it will work.”

If you want to go with an off-white sofa, make sure you balance the black with amazing pillows and artwork like the first inspiration picture in this post!

So if you have a room that’s bothering you, send me a photo here. It doesn’t count if you need an area rug for example and you don’t know which one, I can help you find one in a consultation but it doesn’t fit into the “This room is bothering me” series, hope that makes sense.

Related posts:

Ask Maria: My Walls Bother Me, Can you Help?

Ask Maria: What’s Next After Subway Tile

Ask Maria: Help! I Just Had my First, Real Colour Consultation

19 pins


  • I agree! This living room is not a lost cause – more color and contemporary patterns would make a huge difference, as would switching out the coffee table which is too light to help anchor the middle of the space. I would add that the furniture could be rearranged so that the pieces aren’t so far from one-another (the coffee table looks too far from the sofas?). Bring the sofa(s) in a bit so that they all relate and create a nice conversation area. Add a slim console table, a fun lamp, and a piece of coordinating artwork to the wall where the loveseat currently sits.

    • BJ says:

      I agree with you Malissa the furniture is so far apart, I’m surprised it wasn’t mentioned to move it in to have a conversation area.

      • Mary-Illinois says:

        Furniture always looks best when it’s pulled in away from the walls. Creates a more intimate space for conversation.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Great tips Malissa! I didn’t focus on furniture arrangement because I didn’t feel I had enough pics but your contribution is perfect here!

  • Irmes says:

    Love this series, cant wait for more

  • Andrea says:

    Beautiful Southlake Texas just opened a meeting space called the Marque. Look at the rooms here:

  • Darlene says:

    I really like when you feature reader’s homes in your posts!! You are magnificent at your job with color and balance 🙂

  • sandyc says:

    I think this is a great idea, Maria, and I hope it takes off. It could be the HOUZZ Design Dilemma “disaster” taken to perfection. Had your reader consulted HOUZZ, she’d probably have a hundred responses from designers as well as ordinary folk and be hopelessly confused. By being able to ask you specifically (a very, very generous offer on your part), she’s able to get an answer from a known design expert plus a lot of good extras. Other designers who follow you aren’t prevented and shouldn’t feel discouraged from chiming in while your “ordinary” readers such as myself get to experience these wonderful teachable moments, as if we were actually sitting in one of your classes doing case studies. Win-Win situation for all, I think.

  • Kay says:

    I can’t make out the paint color. Toward the window it looks green beige, but farther into the room it looks gold beige.

    In any case, would painting the room also help? The huge expanse of gold beige (is that right?) in the rug, with beige walls, looks blah. To my eye, anyway.

  • KA says:

    Dallas Ideas – What about Grapevine TX? You have the Gaylord Texan, Great Wolf Lodge, charming historic downtown Grapevine, Grapevine vintage railroad, SeaLife aquarium, Legoland Discovery Center, wineries, Cowboys Golf Course. And the Laurel might he a great meeting space.

  • KA says:

    Tip for rug shopping online: see if the rug you are interested in comes in a small size like 2′ x3′. It will be much easier to test in your home, move around, and cheaper shipping to return if it doesn’t work.

    • Ellen says:

      Great tip!

      • Mary-Illinois says:

        I did that! I ordered the smallest size & was able to take it to fabric stores to find fabrics to go with it when I was doing our guest bedroom.
        But because I didn’t want to bother with the hassle of shipping it back, I used it in my guest bath in front of the vanity.

    • Deb says:

      LOVE this tip! Thank you for sharing it! I’m researching large rugs right now and worried about the commitment of ordering. This is a perfect idea.

  • Linda Fitzgerald says:

    Maria, I think it’s a really great direction to take your site. I”m sure the response will be overwhelming. Even designers (and decorators) have decor dilemma’s so it should appeal to everyone and word will spread.

    Looking forward to it..


  • Vilma says:

    I like the rug. And I agree that a lighter wall color would help. I would stick to a light neutral that coordinates with the new sofa, similar to the feel of the fourth picture. There are French chairs in two of the sample photos but both are punched up in color and pattern. Green strikes me as a great possible accent color for this room, not only in fabrics but in plants. The rug’s color reminds me of sisal. Thanks Maria for a great new forum!

  • Sandy says:

    In the photo with the green sofa, what looks like a gallery wall with black picture frames (above the sofa) is an interesting foil for the striking black-and-white graphic rug. The photo with pink chairs uses black-and-white art also — very nice!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Hi Maria,
    I see you’re starting the year with a big ol’ dose of generosity! I don’t know of anyone else that would share their advice & expertise the way you do.
    I’m kinda surprised you didn’t show a picture of your living room. Your black & white rug with your yellow sofa is stunning! Granted…your rug is more black but it still proves your point.
    Happy New Year Maria!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    I forgot to ask…could your reader just return the rug if she wasn’t in love with it?
    I realize that’s a hassle but easier than living with something you don’t love.
    That’s why I have an ex-husband. Couldn’t live with him cuz I didn’t love him anymore. But that’s a story for another day.

  • Carol - Florida says:

    @Mary-Illinois….I just hate to make returns, so I just don’t even have one…lol

  • Betsy OShea says:

    Agree with Maria that introducing bright saturated spring colors to a b&w rug is the key. The first thing I thought when looking at the room is that the brown leather has to go. Then the dreary beige walls. Depending on how much light the room gets paint them a warm white or a color like yellow or Aqua. Add patterned pillows on the new sofa. Last but not least add new window treatments in a similar color to walls which enlarges the space!

  • Betsy OShea says:

    Oh, one other thing: I also thought of Maria’s graphic white on black rug as the foundation for an off white/ light greige walls with punches of bright clean yellow, green and hot pink. But beware….Maria’s LR has plenty of natural light judging from photographs. Her wall color might fall very flat or gray in a darker room

  • Tammy says:

    As someone who has hired Maria for a color consult before I spent so much money without a plan, I’d want expert advice. To me, nothing in that room seems to be speaking to anything else in the room. There is a lot of disconnect.

    As someone who just purchased a very large peacock blue velvet sofa that rug is similar to the ones I’m considering for my space! So I think the advice is spot on (and similar to other professional advice I’ve received).

  • Annie says:

    Such an exciting new feature, thank you Maria!!

  • Janice says:

    Exciting new feature but feeling more than a bit out of place myself. I almost swallowed my gum at ‘10,000’ for the rug and had to take a break. Back now with a glass of wine and think your suggestions to add color are brilliant as always 🙂

    • Vee says:

      While $10,000 for a rug is a bit much for my and your taste, people have different budgets. It could be a $200 rug that is causing the same problem. The issue and resolution Maria is sharing is universal. Thank you Maria for this great series. I’m sure I will learn much needed information. And yes Janice, my jaw did drop a little when I saw the price. 🙂

  • Melinda says:

    I am so excited that you are coming to Dallas! Aloft Frisco shows a meeting room which might meet your requirements for natural light and 25 in a classroom configuration. I hope you find the perfect space!

  • Debra says:

    It’s difficult to see the layout of the room from the picture but I would put the piano in the corner by the windows where the loveseat is and regroup the sofas and coffee table closer together and away from the edges of the rug maybe even put angle the rug. Make the piano the focal point. I agree that adding fresh color accents will also help pull the space together. Pillows, artwork and maybe new upolstery on the chairs.

  • BillP says:

    It looks like a beautiful room, but nothing will succeed without better lighting. Is the field of the rug cream or white? The owner could afford a $10,000 rug, it’s now time to get some new sofas, a few chairs, tables and lighting. Keep only the rug and piano and build upon it. It could be a beautiful room. (PS Kelly Wearstler is not for DIYers).

  • Kris says:

    I would use a white couch, glass, and gold metallics in this room. Mahogany accents might work, and/or royal blue or kelly green.

Leave a Reply