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The question

What are your top rules for carpet shopping? I'm torn between a super-safe sisal, a muted kilim and a trendy shag. Our furniture and blinds are white and the room is both narrow and bookshelf-heavy.

The answer

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My playbook for carpets is quite simple. First, I am not a fan of wall-to-wall carpets of any type. I prefer area carpets on a hardwood surface that reveal at least one foot of the wood around the perimeter of the room; that's a touchdown in my rule book. Kilims tend to be on the smaller side, so I recommend layering one overtop of a sisal rug. The sisal will give you coverage, and the kilim provides visual interest.

Think of it as a two-point conversion. The textured shag, however, is a Hail Mary pass: You'll be throwing the ball the entire length of the field and praying that it will work. That said, a shag, given its thickness, can have huge impact. In your largely white, book-filled setting, I would anchor the floor with a dark-brown sisal, hang the kilim on the wall and, in a low-traffic area in the same room, lay out a thick white shag. You can have it all and don't have to choose between winners.

Follow architect and interior designer Dee Dee Taylor Eustace on Twitter: @ddtaylorddd. Have a design dilemma? E-mail

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