With fall in the air, people are thinking about options on how to warm their homes. Laura Kirar, an interior and product designer with offices in Manhattan and Miami, suggests focusing on the floor. Hardwood, ceramic tile or concrete can feel nothing but chilly in the winter, and short of installing under floor heating. Soft floor coverings and area rugs are the best way to add warmth underfoot, says Kirar.
''I look at a room like I'm making a three-dimensional painting,'' said Ms. Kirar, who has designed bathroom fixtures for Kallista; furniture for the Baker and McGuire companies; tile for Ann Sacks; and a line of rugs for Tufenkian, called the New Moderns. ''If the right rug's not there, you just know that something's missing.''
There are many options beyond standard wool rugs for creating a distinctive look and feeling, said Ms. Kirar, who used a mixture of wool and hemp in her rugs to give them a casual quality. She also incorporated patterns inspired by contemporary artists like Gerhard Richter and Sol LeWitt and the composer John Cage to give them a modern, playful look.
At Aronson's Floor Covering in Chelsea, she took off her shoes and tested various alternatives to stiff, fibrous sisal. She especially liked the products from Merida Meridian with a woven blend of wool and paper cord, including a zigzag design called Rhythm. The material had a smooth, pleasant texture, ''like sisal but not as hairy,'' she said, that would make an ideal runner with binding along the edges.
At the Kasthall showroom in Midtown, Ms. Kirar gravitated toward the long-haired rugs that resembled shag carpeting. Running her fingers through the fibers of the linen Sam rug, installed on a wall, she described it as ''silky but earthy.''
For spare-no-expense luxury, she stopped at F. J. Hakimian, also in Midtown, to see rugs patched together from pieces of 1940s Persian and Turkish kilim panels, in wool, cotton or goat hair, which can be ordered in custom sizes, from long, narrow runners to large living-room rugs.
''Of all the things I get to choose for my clients, rugs are my favorite,'' she said. ''It's like shopping for art.''