The Complete Rug Buying Guide
Choosing a new area rug? This is your chance to create a first impression that will sweep your guests off their feet. If you’ve scoured the internet for tips on rug style, shape, color, and fabric, and the decision feels a little overwhelming — don’t worry. We’re here to help you learn how to choose a statement-making rug that will bring your whole look together. With this comprehensive area rug buying guide, you’ll have all the information you need to choose the perfect rug for every room.
Area Rug Size and Placement
One of the most common mistakes first-time rug buyers make is a choosing a rug that’s too small for their space. Remember, a rug isn’t a filler — it’s a focal point. A rug that’s too small will fit your room like an awkward pair of highwaters. A rug that’s too big will look like a clumsy hand-me-down. Just like buying a new outfit, finding the right size rug is all about a comfortable fit.
The good news? You don’t need an eagle eye to avoid poor rug sizing. Use painter’s tape to mark where to place your rug and measure the area. In your living room, the front legs of your seating should all fit onto a rug’s borders for circling up a conversation. In your dining room, you should be able to scoot your chair back from the table without snagging the edges. In a bedroom, your bare feet should have a buttery-soft landing, no matter which side of the bed you roll out of.
Depending on where you put it, an area rug will get different levels of traffic. Follow these tips as necessary:
- To give your rug a long, beautiful life, keep it on an even surface to prevent premature wear.
- Placing a rug pad underneath your rug will prevent it from “creeping,” which is a good idea even if your rug will be held in place by large pieces of furniture.
- Direct sunlight can cause your rug to fade over time, so you’ll want to position your rug to keep it from soaking up rays or rotate the rug regularly for an even fade.
For detailed tips on getting precise measurements before you pull the purchase trigger, check out our guide on how to size and place and area rug.
Sure, your rug’s materials will affect its cost and quality. But before anything else, your priority in choosing a rug should be picking a material will hold up to your daily life.
Kids and pets are hard on rugs, so choose a rug fiber that’s durable and easily cleaned, like wool or synthetics. As a general rule, the longer the fibers, the more luxurious your rug will feel. So if you’re constantly dropping your phone or movie marathoning on the floor in a slouchy tee, you need a dense rug for supreme softness.
On the other hand, if you have members of your family with canes, walkers, or wheelchairs, a low-pile rug has more secured edges. Those with allergies will want to be super careful about the fiber makeup of the rug, so you might try an organic weave of jute or seagrass. However, doing simple things, like removing your shoes when you’re at home, will also reduce the amount of dirt you may have to wrangle later.
The more you know about the pros and cons of each area rug material, the happier you’ll be with your area rug purchase. No matter what type of rug you have, a little care and attention will keep your rug in good shape.
Let’s face it, the most intimidating part of choosing an area rug is finding a rug style that not only reflects your personality, but also looks good with the rest of your room and furniture. The choices are seemingly endless!
There are no hard and fast rules about choosing a rug style, but many designers recommend to mimic the shape of the room, a key design element, or piece of furniture.
For example, a sleek metal coffee table pairs well with a hard sisal rug if you want to come off as an industrial urbanite. Going the opposite direction, layering a few fringed tapestry-weave rugs will lend your home a whimsical boho vibe. Light a soy candle as you sip mint tea on a leather pouf. You’re golden.
It’s likely your lifestyle and your design wants won’t match up perfectly. Knowing your top priorities, like durability, cleanability, cost, or comfort, will help you narrow down your choices in choosing the perfect area rug style.
Design isn’t always instinctual, especially when it comes to choosing a rug pattern. A wacky print or color combo can quickly make your room look like an ugly Christmas sweater party. To help you find a rug pattern that complements your other furniture and accessories, use these simple strategies.
If your walls and furniture are neutral, try a rug with an eye-catching pattern to add some energy. A paisley or patchwork area rug will bring in bold colors and shapes for that “starry-eyed dreamer” look. For more maturity and depth, try a rug pattern with ornamental details, like an Oriental rug with a Persian, Kilim, or Moroccan motif.
If your walls or furniture are more colorful or they have a large-print pattern, try a rug with a subtle, tonal pattern. You don’t want your pieces to fight for attention. Find the beauty in simplicity. A more classically patterned rug in solids or stripes will still help unify your look without being the showcase of your design.
Choosing a rug color is similar to choosing a wall color. Dark walls, furniture, and rugs may make a small room look even smaller, while a lighter palette can visually open up the same space.
If you need a rug that can hold up to the occasional coffee spill or a brood of children tromping in after a snowball fight, go for one in with deep hues. Darker colors hide the messes life leaves behind.
For brilliant, lavish designs, seek out the natural pigments of a hand-knotted rug. An indigo dhurrie or rich, burgundy damask rug will look like their dyes were extracted from the plants in a lush jungle.
If you prefer a rug with rugged mountain tones or serene coastal shades, go with earthy colors. A rug featuring such a subtle, neutral palette is like a blank canvas, which lets you use your pillows, lamps, throws, and other accessories to bring color to the room.
Another tactic that will create a unified, seamless look is matching your rug to existing accent colors in the room. If you choose this route, it’s easy to change out accessories as the seasons or trends change. You’ll get more chances for that beautiful before-and-after reveal.
More Ways to Shop
- Area Rug Guides