Billy Baldwin’s Advice: Top Carpeting With an Area Rug
What he said: "I like the warm, deep-comfort look of smaller rugs laid right on top of wall-to-wall carpet. The smaller rug could be a bigger-scale pattern…or a needlepoint, or a beautiful Oriental," said Billy Baldwin (1903-1984), in Billy Baldwin Decorates (1972). A Princeton-educated decorator whose clients included Truman Capote and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Baldwin "loosened up traditional design and made it more inviting," says design historian Judith Gura.
Why it works: Layering rugs, like layering clothes, adds texture, color, and dimension. The effect is "calm and warm," says interior designer Suzanne Rheinstein, owner of Hollyhock, a Los Angeles home store. For the best results, start with a tightly woven, low-pile carpet or sisal in a solid tone. Complement it with almost any area rug―flat cotton, zebra-print cowhide, or fluffy flokati.
More of His Advice:
- On centerpieces: "When you decorate the tables, beware of centerpieces with too many flowers in too-big bouquets. Much more charming is a simple flowering plant in its own clay pot or a little wicker basket―and please don't have strongly scented flowers. I remember one dinner party…where the smell of tuberoses…was enough to knock you down."
- On displaying artwork: "The best places to put pictures are the unexpected ones. I like…taking a typical over-the-sofa painting and hanging it out in the hall, where you can…see it rather than sit in its shadow.… In one room, I backed a picture with plywood for protection and stood it in a window."