James Seuss is the CEO of The Rug Company, a maker of high-end rugs based in New York and London. The company sells handmade and custom rugs made of wool, silk linen, mohair, merino, alpaca and more, and also has an indoor/outdoor line with Perennials.

Seuss, who has been with The Rug Company since 2015, answered questions about the best materials for your space, choosing a pattern, and how to measure for or clean rugs in a recent online chat. Here is an edited excerpt.

Q: What’s the right size for a living room rug, and should it go under the sofa?

A: Rugs are particularly good at defining different areas in open-plan spaces. In a living room, we choose a large rug that creates a border with the surrounding floor and accommodates all of the seating and main furniture.

You could also have the rug visually flowing under the main seating area, with legs half on and off. If your sofas sit face-to-face, you can allow the rug to take precedence and keep the sofas close to it on each side while not touching, which balances the room and looks particularly pleasing to the eye. ​

Q: I’m looking for a plush rug for my bedroom. What do you recommend?


A: We always suggest placing the rug under the bed, framing it and stopping before the side table. Rug pads increase the life span of the design and offer an extra layer of safety, minimizing the risk of slipping. ​

Q: Why invest in silk?

A: Silk provides great glamour and a feeling of luxury to any room. It’s cool to the touch underfoot and provides a wonderful shimmer effect.

Q: What kind of rug should I get for my indoor entryway? It needs to be attractive and able to handle children’s messes, mud and more. Is an outdoor rug tacky, and are there materials or patterns to avoid?

A: Wool rugs are particularly durable for high-traffic areas and playful children. The yarn from the Tibetan sheep is unusually strong and springy and is renowned for being rich in lanolin, a natural stain barrier. If the rug or carpeting is going to be placed in a high-traffic area, I would recommend going with a shorter pile height, which is easier to clean and maintain over time and doesn’t hold on to debris like longer-pile rugs and flooring do. Stairs tend to wear more than corridors, so to make rugs there more durable, we recommend a hand-knotted, hand-tufted or woven jacquard quality.​​​

Q: How often should you have Oriental rugs cleaned if they don’t get a lot of foot traffic?

A: Over-cleaning is not advised because it can wear a rug down, especially if it has been crafted with ancient silk threads. For areas with light foot traffic, we generally recommend an annual professional clean. However, if the design has been cared for, you might not need to have it cleaned for five or more years. Generally, it’s wise to inspect the front and back of your rug each year and determine what you need to do based upon its appearance.


Q: What is the best type of rug for a heavily used stairway?

A: Wool is a highly durable and natural material. All wool rugs work best in high-traffic areas. Stairways are a great place for experimenting with bold design.

Q: We desperately need a new rug in our den, but we have a rambunctious 6-month-old puppy. We live in a rural area, where a lot of dirt gets tracked in. What’s the best material and pile thickness for our situation? We need a large rug, about 9 by 12 feet.

A: I’m also an owner of two boisterous dogs, so I can certainly understand the challenges you face. Pay attention to what you use when cleaning. Never use harsh chemicals when cleaning spills; use warm water or a soft, soapy solution if necessary. If you experience serious spillage or a pet accident, you should blot any excess liquid with a damp cloth and get in touch with your nearest showroom or professional rug cleaner. Make sure you’re using your vacuum on a low setting and are not using a cleaner head with teeth.