When living in small rented bungalows, personalising the living space means working within the landlord’s boundaries. My husband and I are to some degree limited with how stylish we can actually make our place. Let’s get real – rental cabinetry, hardware, and middle-of-the-road carpet quality are not really our style. Switching these things would make a huge difference, if rental property rules weren’t so black and white. So when we wanted to make our girls’ bedroom theirs, I had to look for a minimal-effort, easily changed décor ingredient that still delivers a richly textured scheme. I decided to go with a floor rug.
Beside defining a space, throw rugs come in an assortment of colours and textures and are the easiest way to add warmth and style to a room. In a way, area rugs are like cocktails – they are the first foray into a menu and contribute to the overall atmosphere of a party. Knowing that the rug I choose will either make or break the room, I had to choose wisely. However I wasn’t sure whether I should focus on making a grand statement, or if design should take second place to durability. Between my kids eating and playing, and our spunky English Bull Terrier, I knew the rug would take a beating. I needed something tough and kid proof.
After few days of CSI-style online investigating and a Sherlock Holmes-esque intuition (the being-mother talent I’ve mastered over the years), I finally decided to go with a striped floor rug in an array of cool, pastel rainbow colours. It’s hand-loomed and hand-tufted out of 100% Japanese acrylic.
I did first consider natural fiber rugs as they are advertised as the safest and child friendly. I was leaning more towards cotton, mainly because it’s a natural product that is strong yet budget-friendly. Also, cotton area rugs are usually made in a flat wave, toys slide across easily and I thought cleaning would be a breeze. However, after researching, I learned that with time, cotton fibers get matted and tend to accumulate dander and dirt particles easily.
I then thought of wool, but learned these are quite hard to clean. Using a vacuum’s rotary brush is not recommended (fiber may fuzz) and neither is DIY deep-cleaning, because the majority of store bought cleaners are high in alkaline which can damage fibers. Also, since wool fibers absorb more water, they are harder to dry. Wool was therefore off the list as well.
I had to consider what was safest to go below my girls’ feet. Since they spend plenty of time in their room, I wanted something that would be able to withstand rough handling – Sausage’s painting and crafting mishaps and BB’s inevitable spills and potty accidents. After weighing all the options, I knew Japanese acrylic was the way to go.
Although made of man-made fibers, it’s lightweight and made in short pile so it doesn’t permanently trap every crumb. The rug feels and looks like wool, less the staggering price tag and risk of airborne allergies. It is warm, plush, soft and feels springy underfoot. The acrylic helps the rug breathe (absorb and release moisture), and has good resistance to oil and stains. The backing is made of cotton which not only ensures the durability of the rug, but also reduces odours. And best of all, it is actually very easy to clean.
I usually roll it up, put it out in the front yard and clean it with a mild dish detergent (never a laundry detergent) and water. This is the best combination to attack ink markers and chocolate stains. Because I power-wash the rug once or twice a year, every few weeks I deodorize it with baking soda. Between soft drink spills, BB’s potty training accidents and the rare occasions when Chuck drags his hind end on the floor, the funky odours are certain. The power of baking soda helps me avoid the unavoidable. I simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the rug, let it sit for few hours and vacuum. Oftentimes, I also shake it to remove dust, because let’s be realistic, vacuums do miss a lot of dirt (even with frequent vacuuming).
What I like more than the easy-to-clean feature is that the rug perfectly defines the girls’ Dulux’s Storybook bedroom design. It adds the just-right pop of colour. Plus there’s that added safety when BB is playing on the floor. It’s thick, sturdy and still, so BB’s feet do not get stuck on the corners and there’s no tripping. It also offers a decent cushioning to BB’s falls and bumps.
Simply put, the rug serves its purpose. Plus, I love the idea of girls having a soft, safe and clean area where they can indulge in reading and envelop in their favourite make-believe coffee shop game.