Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reader Design Dilemma: Mixing other rugs with zebra hide

The maid of honor from my wedding just happens to be gut-renovating a 4-story brick corner townhouse in Jersey City.  I just happened to stay there on my recent City visit.  We just happened to talk (and talk, and talk) decorating.  It just so happens that this friend, Marni, and her husband Matt were on a Genevieve show on HGTV, though for some reason her episode is not available online.  HGTV, throw a sister a bone and get this episode up for me to see.

Here's the backstory.  The house is only 16 feet wide, leading to a number of design dilemmas.  On the parlor floor, the space is open plan, with living room and dining room sharing space front to back, and a (gorgeous) kitchen up two steps behind that.  Each of the living spaces has a non-working fireplace is grey-washed brick, with a small hearth.  In order to fit a full-sized couch in the living room (this to-die for specimen, in black leather), it had to overlap the hearth.  A rug as wide as the sofa would cover up the hearth and encroach on the fireplace's space.  (In the colloquial, the rug would be all up in its grill.)  This combined with the fact that Marni has always, always loved black and white stripes in general and zebra stripes in particular, the answer was clear.  A zebra-printed cowhide (thanks, West Elm) will have a lot of presence in the room, but the irregular shape will work around the floor plan issues.

With the open floor plan, Marni was wondering what in the heck she could put on the floor in the dining area that would stand up to, but not fight with, that zebra hide.  Naturally, I had a few ideas for her.  In each of the boards, I'm showing Marni's existing chandelier, fan, dining table, couch, and side table.  Some pieces (coffee table, case goods) and layered details (art, accessories) are missing, obvs, but I'm throwing out some options for the big remaining purchases: dining chairs, rug, and living room armchair.

First up: Go tonal, but equally bold

marni 2

The grey and white of this rug is tonal to the black and white, and the bold, overscale diamond can keep up with the graphic pattern of zebra stripes.  Throw in super bold color on your chairs, and you're all set.  Kapow.

Numero Dos: Deep color, strong pattern, chrome finish

Marni 3

Here, the strong color and pattern of the rug stand up to the zebra, but everything else goes tonal, with acrylic chairs that practically disappear and a modern classic panton chair in metal-finish base and magenta fabric.  Glam rock.

Third time's the charm: Loose pattern grounded in black


Here, rather than a bold graphic pattern, I suggest something looser, more organic.  While zebra is striped, it is the most organic stripe around.  I let the lavender color take center stage and paired it with modern white leather chairs with warm wood legs and brought the sense of detail, whimsy, and femininity into an armchair with swirled arms (yes, that's the technical term), turned legs, and a slew of nailhead.  This feels like the most "subtle" version to me (if you can call a room with a zebra hide "subtle"), or perhaps I mean "refined."

So what do you think:  if this was your house, which scheme would you choose?

I'm having a lot of fun helping Marni with this fabulous project.  Hopefully we'll post some results here and there as progress is made.  Enjoy!


  1. I'm voting for option number one, although it was tough to choose between it and number three. But I love those pops of orange and green in the chairs, the rug is fab and I love the word, "Kapow."

  2. I'm voting for option number 2 - love it!

  3. love them all, love them all.

    i'm totally sending you my dining room rug dilemma too.

  4. Love them all and cannot decide, but I will pick number two because anything with a hot pink Platner lounge chair gets my vote.
    -e (modern24seven.blogspot.com)

  5. I pick the first one, love the chair! Nice job!

  6. I love the first one, especially the rug combination. She's lucky to have you as a friend. And OH-MY-GOSH that sofa is crazy amazing!

  7. after contemplating this very seriously poolside on vacation, i like the magenta chair with the 3rd rug (for marn). of course the 1st one looks like my house. also, what are sources on these rugs?

  8. Sources: numbers 1 and 2 are Calypso St. Barth, number 3 is Twinkle Living, I think from Design Public.

    And I LIKE the magenta chair with the lavender rug, though I think the platner chair may not actually a possibility, budget-wise.

  9. I love the zebra rugs. You have made all useful stuff.
    Shaggy Rugs


Let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!


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