Home & Garden

Color Underfoot: Gray Benko’s New Rugs Tell a Southern Story

The South Carolina designer and reality star debuts a punchy new collection

A woman in a yellow jumpsuit stands in a living room with green walls and a red couch.

Photo: Annie Selke

Gray Benko surrounded by her trademark maximalist style.

Gray Benko, the Summerville, South Carolina, interior designer and star of the Magnolia Network’s Happy to Be Home with the Benkos, has built her business around color—and how much Southerners gravitate toward it. “True Southerners can’t help but sprinkle our homes with color,” she says. “It’s like adding a dash of our signature charm and hospitality to every room.” That philosophy, in fact, drew her to the idea of curating a collection of rugs for her fellow color lover, doyenne of textiles Annie Selke. The capsule includes twenty-five picks that speak to Benko’s penchant for lively decor, including indoor/outdoor options.

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Benko attributes her ability to layer multiple hues and patterns with abandon to her experience behind the lens. “I think my love of design really comes from my background as a photographer, and that my photographer’s eye informs my design aesthetic,” she says. “For example, I’ve always been drawn to Wes Anderson, and I love his use of color and the way he balances objects within the frame.” Her own bedroom features that Wes Anderson feeling. “When I design any space, I ask myself, What will this room look like in a photo? It’s just how my brain works.”

The Rainbow Row Multi Handwoven Wool Rug.

As for how to employ her new collection in your own home, she suggests using the colorful rugs to either enliven more neutral spaces, “Or they can be used in rooms that are already drenched in color and pattern for a more maximalist approach,” she says. “There are so many ways to go about designing your space using color and pattern, which is why I tried to add a lot of versatility to this collection.”

The Briarwood Lemon Handwoven Cotton Rug.

Next up, you can look for Benko in two other places: first, on Max for the summer debut of season two of Happy to Be Home with the Benkos, and as judge of the Home category for G&G’s Fifteenth Annual Made in the South Awards. “I love celebrating Southern artisans,” Benko says. “And the Made in the South Awards are a great way to celebrate the many talented makers that we have in our region.”