How to Choose an Area Rug

Even the most gorgeous tile or hardwood floors need area rugs to add warmth and style to the rooms in your home. But how do you choose the right one? There are so many factors to consider: size, shape, design, and more. Though there are not necessarily hard and fast rules, here are a few guidelines to consider when picking out your next area rug.

Choosing a shape and material

To set your search off on the right foot, you should have a solid idea of what you’re looking for from the beginning. Rectangular area rugs are the most common in living rooms, but don’t be afraid to branch out when it comes to other areas. Round rugs make a striking statement in entryways, and runners can add a new dimension in kitchens.

Additionally, think about how you want the rug to feel under your feet. Do you want it smooth and silky or soft and fluffy? There are synthetic and natural fibers from which to choose. However, it’s not just about which feels the best. There are pros and cons to each type, from cotton to acrylic to nylon. High-traffic areas do best with low pile rugs since tracks don’t show as easily. Natural fibers are soft, but are more likely to show stains. It really comes down to your household and how you envision yourselves using the rugs.

Pretty patterns

Armed with the knowledge of what shape and type of rug you want, you can start shopping for one that suits your fancy. The first natural step will be deciding on a color palette that will complement the existing decor in a room or tie all of the elements together. If you’re not sure what sort of pattern you prefer, start by browsing the colors you’re interested in and let the results you find inspire you. You may go in thinking you want something floral, but something striped and modern could be the one that speaks to you. A few key pointers to keep in mind:

  • Choose a pattern that suits the room. If you already have a lot going on with the furniture and walls, a more subdued rug may work best.
  • If your room is uniform in color and style, a boldly-patterned rug could make a stylish impact
  • Detailed and intricate patterns are good choices if you have children or pets, as this can help hide stains
blue and white area rug in a living room with grey couches and white accents

Living room and kitchen

Your living room and kitchen are likely the most utilized areas in your home, so it’s important to choose a rug that will hold up under those high-traffic conditions. For the living room, where your family gathers for conversation, camaraderie, and entertainment, traditional design wisdom suggests that you should choose a rug that spans the length of the couch and allows the first legs of any pieces of furniture to overlap the edges of the rug. However, some designers don’t adhere so staunchly to rug rules. There are many different ways to arrange your furniture around your area rug, and you should choose the one that works best for your space.

In the kitchen, a rug in front of the sink and stove can help ease foot and back pain that can come from long stints of cooking and doing the dishes. In this location, it’s important to choose a rug with slip-resistant backing or to use a rug pad underneath to hold the rug in place.

For your bedroom

Area rugs make a perfect addition to bedrooms, whether you have hard floors or carpet. If you have hard floors, an area rug can help absorb sound and stabilize temperatures. It also gives your feet a nice, soft place to land when you get out of bed in the morning. On the other hand, having carpet in your room doesn’t restrict you from getting a colorful rug to add style and dimension.

Since bedrooms vary in size and layout, there is more freedom to use an area rug that will best suit your space. Though many use a large area rug under the bed, you may also decide you want a smaller one for the side of the bed, at the foot of the bed, or in the sitting area along the windows.

Area rugs can add stylish intrigue to any room in your home. Check out our gallery to see the different ways we’ve incorporated area rugs into our homes.