How Designer Robyn Branch Chooses an Area Rug

Friday, November 01, 2019
The best thing about High Point Market is the chance to catch up with fabulously talented friends, like the lovely Robyn Branch, who graciously and freely share the wisdom of their wonderful craft.

“Hi honey!” Robyn Branch whooshed into the Palmetto Living showroom commanding every inch of space – her vivacious spirit extending far beyond her petite 5’2” frame. Hair loose and wavy on this misty High Point morning, she peered at me through smart white framed eyeglasses, “You’re here now?”

Under showroom lights, her sequined lips sweatshirt cast spotlights about the room while we talked about my transition into textiles. Then, I took a deep breath and asked her for the most personal of information . . . her method of choosing area rugs for her clients.

Robyn Branch is, after all, one of the most talented people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Her work with Robyn Branch Design ranges from breathtaking vacation homes in St. Kitts to contemporary condos. And all of them . . . every single one . . . leaves the jaw slack and eyes wide. Robyn has a knack for creating soothing, upscale spaces that make the heart feel right at home.

“I always choose the counter top, the tile and the area rug first,” she said. “Even before the furniture because these elements make such a huge impact on a space. Scale is everything.”

Her most recent project is a down-to-the-studs renovation. “But not every project is like that,” she explains, “sometimes people want to use the furniture they have and just need to refresh with new paint and décor.”

“So when you walk into a space, is it all about the size of the room?” I asked.

“Yes and no. It’s really about the people who will live inside the room. I want to know their story, their physical condition and how they will use the space. Then, I design for purpose and safety.”

Walking to a rug display, fingers knuckle-deep in the thick pile of Ari, a Cloud 9 area rug, “See how deep this pile is? I would put this in a bedroom where there’s less foot traffic.

Ari Black from Palmetto Living's Cloud 9 Collection
But this rug here,” reaching out to brush the easy-to-navigate pile of Griddle White from the Adagio collection, “this would be perfect in living space or dining room. The pile is lower and soft – good for walking.”

Griddle from Palmetto Living's Adagio Collection
As we walked deeper into the showroom I asked, “Do a lot of your clients put area rugs in dining rooms?” She laughed and said, “Some. People fight it because they worry about food getting on the rug.” Shrugging her shoulders, “You just vacuum it up! It’s not hard!” Robyn is delightfully direct. And she’s not wrong! With a Palmetto Living area rug, there’s no need to worry about spills because our yarns are stain-resistant and won’t fade.

“Can you tell me a bit more about designing for safety?” I asked.

“Well, it’s making sure that the space accommodates everyone who lives there, with thought to those who visit. It means finding beautiful, dense, low-pile rugs for people who use walking assistance and may have trouble lifting their feet high enough to navigate a deep shag. But, it’s also about ensuring visual delineation – placing a light rug on a darker floor or vice versa - to make sure people see the rug, reducing the risk of trips and falls.”

Light rug on a dark floor feat. SoCal Living Flora Bora
Walking to an Aria floor display she pointed to the serge yarn on the corners of the rug, “Another important thing people miss is the rug pad. It should be large enough to provide cushion and grip, yet small enough so that the corners of the rug drape over it and touch the real floor. When the corners of the area rug are flat, it reduces tripping and protects the corner stitching from unnecessary wear and tear.”

Izmir in Rouge from Palmetto Living's Aria Collection
“That is valuable information. Can you talk a bit more about scale and size? Did you mean the size of the room?” I asked.

“Yes and no. The size of the room is important, but someone shouldn’t fill the entire room with rug. Leave some breathing room around the border. You can have all of your furniture on the rug or just the front legs. Either way is fine as long as the scale of the prints work together. Take this rug,” pointing to an over-sized Nirvana pattern called Nakai,

Nakai from Palmetto Living's Nirvana Collection
“This rug makes a bold statement, so the furniture needs to be solid or have a small print to highlight the pattern of the area rug. Likewise, if the print is tiny and intricate on the rug, the furniture’s pattern can be over-sized. It’s all about balance – light and dark, large and small.”

Nakai area rug with a solid chair
Robyn’s knowledge absolutely blew me away. Humbled to have the time to learn from her I asked if there was anything else to share.

She added, “Choosing an area rug isn’t hard, it’s just a matter of being patient to find the right size and pattern for your space and design. But, you always have to remember that it’s an emotional decision for people. Buying an area rug is a commitment and customers want it to be right. This is their home. It matters.”


There is so much to love about High Point Market. The bustle of an energetically creative crowd, the amazing new eye candies, the inspiration and the Happy Hour starts at 11AM! But, to me, the best thing about it is the opportunity to catch up with fabulously talented friends, like the lovely Robyn Branch, who share the wisdom of their beautiful craft graciously and freely.

ICYMI – Robyn’s Truth Bombs:
  • Style, in all forms, can (and should) feel good.
  • Safety first in design – pair lights with darks to create visual delineation.
  • Put your family and guests first when choosing a pile height for your home.
  • Make sure your area rug pad is smaller than your area rug so corners rest flat on the floor to prevent tripping and unnecessary wear.
  • You can put an area rug in your dining room – just vacuum it!  
  • Don’t fill your entire room with an area rug – leave a bit of space around the outer edges.
  • Mix and match the size of patterns in your area rug and furniture to create balance.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Buying an area rug can be emotional because it’s a large part of your home décor.