Podcast, Ep. 274: Rugs 101 with out in-house expert

Hand knotted rugs in lots of colors and patterns

Today we are deep diving into rugs. They are a foundational part of any space and very functional, but can be quite challenging. Not only are rugs expensive, but they are high traffic and take up a lot of space. So to discuss such an important and high commitment design element, we brought in our rug expert and 23 year veteran here at Ballard Designs–Carmen Barbee. Carmen breaks down the different types of rugs, how to care for them, her favorite tips and tricks, and so much more.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • What are the common rug materials?
  • Is there a rulebook for where rugs should be throughout the house?
  • Why is natural fiber not kid or pet friendly?
  • What role does synthetic fibers play in rug making?
  • When it comes to hand-knotted rugs, the smaller the hand knot the more expensive it is.
  • How to care for wool rugs.
  • What is an oushak rug?
  • What is a flat woven rug?
  • What is a kilim rug?
  • Every rug needs a rug pad. What does it do?
  • The difference between hand tufted and hand hooked rugs.
  • Are machine made rugs still high quality?
  • The name of the game is easy care; and why many people are using performance rugs indoors now.
  • Tips for rug sizing and placement.
  • How to use rugs in an open floorplan to define a space and work together.
  • The rule of thumb is–start with the rug. This is why considering the color palette is so important.
  • Carmen’s thoughts on solid vs. patterned rugs.
  • How to use fashion rugs to rotate designs or change with the seasons.
  • What is the longevity/lifespan of different types of rugs?
  • Tips & tricks for treating stains on rugs.
  • Rugs are always going to lean more classic than trendy, but what are some of the upcoming trends?

Mentioned in This Episode:

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Happy Decorating!

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply

    Elizabeth K

    October 19, 2022

    I learn so much through your podcasts! I have a polypropylene rug in my living room that has gotten compressed right in front of our sofa. I love the colors and the style. Any best practices to restore the pile?

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      October 24, 2022

      So glad you enjoyed the show. We’ll ask Carmen, but you might try a steamer!