No one knows rugs better than Ben Soleimani. The descendant of a Persian family that has been working in the carpet industry for four generations, Soleimani was the first person we turned to when looking for guidance on navigating a rug purchase. His father founded Mansour
in London in 1980, quickly becoming the official purveyor to the British Royal Family, and now Soleimani is the designer and collector for Restoration Hardware
. If those credentials don't prove his rug tips are solid gold, then for further proof, take a peek at his Beverly Hills home, which was featured in Architectural Digest
Soleimani suggests always measuring the space before rug shopping. Rug size can be determined by location, size of room, and style. "If the home is in a warmer location you don't need as big a rug. In a beach house you try to leave more floor," says Soleimani. In general, he suggests keeping one and a half to two feet of space from the edge of the rug to the wall. "The proportions of the rug should be the same as the room," he says. A square room, therefore, should have a square rug and a rectangular room should have a rectangular rug. Finally, if your style is more traditional, opt for a larger rug that all the furniture can sit on. If your style is more contemporary, a smaller rug will do.
Soleimani isn't the biggest fan of layering rugs, but if layering is a must, he suggests starting with a jute, sisal, or hemp rug as the base and placing a smaller rug on top of that. The best part of layering is you can purchase that vintage Beni Ourain
rug you've been coveting in a smaller (cheaper) size, while still filling the whole room with the larger bottom layer. To avoid the trip factor, have your local rug dealer or repairman stitch the two rugs together.
If durability is a deciding factor in your rug purchase, choose a wool rug. The material cleans better than silk, viscose, or cotton. Though, Soleimani says "Overall, people are overly worried about durability. Antique rugs have been around forever and ever. As long as you can wash it, it will last forever."
Soleimani suggests selecting the rug before designing the rest of a room. "The rug is the base of the room, everything comes from the rug," he says. When selecting a pattern, the rule to go by is "less is more." Look for rugs that create design from texture. Soleimiani says, "when you stand on a rug and take a photograph, you should see the design." But, otherwise the rug should look simple and clean, two words that Soleimani says describe "everything in my life." He is currently crushing on art-deco designs from Turkey and Kurdish areas in the 1940s and '50s. "There are some really beautiful transitional all-over designs that I am crazy about," he says.
A rug can be a big investment, especially a vintage rug from the Persia, Morocco, or Turkey. But, Soleimani is quite convincing when justifying the purchase. "A rug is labor; it is art. A good rug can make a room." There is no doubt about that, after looking at Soleimani's Beverly Hills home
, where each room boasts one statement rug after the next. But what would he personally invest in now? "I love the natural yarn rugs in the new RH collection. They create texture from the natural yarns, it's simple and it all looks like a wash of color."
Photography: Roger Davies for Architectural Digest, Catherine Kwong, via Better Homes & Gardens, Pieter Estersohn for Architectural Digest, William Abranowicz, Burnham Design, Alexandra Loew, Dimore Studio, Roger Davies