BY LORI ACKEN | PHOTOS BY DAVID SZYMANKSI
Raise your hand if you think online outlet or big-box retailer when you’re in need of an area rug. Now raise your hand if you’ve ever looked at your purchase and felt a heaping dose of “meh” … or, worse, a pang of regret.
Especially in the heart of winter, there’s huge appeal in having something cushy and comforting or colorful and creative under foot in rooms newly stripped of holiday décor with windows revealing a white and gray world. To have a rug that’s perfectly you and perfectly fits your space is easier and more cost effective than you might think.
“Premade rugs only come in one or two sizes and the colors are so limited,” says Shannon Gieryn, a flooring consultant for Kerns Carpet One Floor & Home, running her hand over a sample square in shades of gray and rich blue with subtle shine and varying pile heights. “With all of our products, you really can make any piece of carpet into a rug, in any size that you want, so you don’t have to stick with those common eight-by-tens, or five-by-sevens. You can do squares, you can do circular rugs, and then really hone in on the colors that you love.”
And that customization doesn’t stop with the carpet itself. Gieryn and her colleague Rachel Rosenwald show off books of binding options in dozens of colors and multiple textures and thicknesses from rustic to refined.
Not sure where to begin in custom creating your perfect area rug? Start with the realities of your home and lifestyle, says Rosenwald. “Some customers have kids and high traffic. Others are redecorating or designing a new dining room, so they want something a little more high-end that ties in what they’re trying to convey with the rest of their spaces as well.”
Then let the experts guide you.
Gieryn recites the basic process that she and Rosenwald use to get shoppers to their perfect piece in minutes, starting with their affinity for cooler or warmer tones and preference for neutrals or bright bursts of color. Next comes a perusal of the four carpet styles — plush, patterned, Berber and frieze, which, in addition to its appealing shaggy look and comfy feel, hides daily wear and tear caused by pets and busy families.
“Once they know those four different looks, we can eliminate 50 to 75 percent of their choices within the first 30 seconds,” Gieryn smiles. “That really helps bring the focus in. Customers can walk in not knowing what the heck they’re gonna do, and within five minutes, we have the choices that are going to tick every single box.”
Gieryn and Rosenwald also visit customers’ homes if the challenges of finding the perfect rug or runner prove too great to wrangle in their showrooms. Both women have advised customers about paint colors, countertop treatments and even carpet textures that work best for buyers with medical considerations like autism and Parkinson’s disease. And they enjoy great working relationships with installers they call “craftsmen artists.” Gieryn cites a recent example of a custom runner designed to join two parts of a home and also cater to a beloved dog.
“[It] was a curved staircase and every single stair was a different size,” she explains. “He took a beautiful print — real subtle beige tones, but it almost had a bit of an animal print to it — and he cut and custom-sized every piece, surged all the way through the tread and the riser on every single step, all the way up. When he was all done, it was a piece of art.”
“We can really design anything to fit what you’re imagining,” adds the Mequon-based Rosenwald, who sees a lot of demand for rich jewel tones and nods to North Shore homes’ genteel history, while Brookfield-based Gieryn fields requests for a true sea foam color and patterns that bring the feel of lake vistas indoors. “I have yet to run into something we cannot do.” MKE