How to Choose an Area Rug

We’ve recently made the decision to remove the old and battered carpet from our entire upstairs.  The original wood flooring is in fairly good condition but we’ll be sanding, staining and protecting it in the coming months and I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I wasn’t dreading the mess and chaos this project will create! However, if there is one thing I really am looking forward to (aside from having lovely restored floors!) is being able to choose some area rugs.

Area rugs are perfect for both large and small areas and places where you would like to protect your flooring from traffic or from furniture. They also delineate space so work well for large open plan areas too, grouping furniture together and creating a pulled-together look.  In addition, they provide warmth and comfort underfoot, creating a cosy home.

Whether you are looking for something bold to add colour to a room, something textural to lift a neutral space or just wondering how big you should go, then I hope my tips will make it a little easier when the time comes to make what can sometimes be a fairly expensive purchase, a worth-while investment that will give you pleasure for years to come.

how to choose an area rug

The first thing to consider is where the rug will be used.

Low pile rugs: A living room rug will likely get a lot of wear and tear if you spend a lot of time in the room. While a shag rug may look great, if you have pets or kids, food and dirt will end up spoiling that rug in a matter of minutes!  If you spend time sitting on the floor than a good underlay will make a low pile rug more comfy.  If you’ll be moving furniture around as in a dining room setting, a low pile rug will work best here too as you don’t want it to be difficult to get up from the table!

low pile rug

High pile and shag rugs:  If you love something to sink your toes into when you get up in the morning, you may want to consider a high pile rug for areas of low traffic like the bedroom.  Keep in mind, they will get dirty eventually, however, so you might want to consider something small enough that can be easily rolled up and put in your car when it comes to more frequent cleaning that will be required of a rug like this.  

high pile rug

How big should you go?

The best way to decide this is to actually measure out the area you want to cover.  There should be at least a foot or two of visible flooring all the way around the room.  This will give you an idea of the size you’ll need before you set out to find your dream rug.

In a living area, generally speaking, all the front legs of the furniture should sit upon it.  Stay away from postage-stamp size rugs right under the coffee table – it will make your room look smaller.  At the same time, you don’t want to waste a lot of money buying a very large rug that sits fully underneath the furniture – you’ll essentially be paying for rug that you won’t even see.  And if it’s in front of a sofa, then it should run the same or slightly wider than the width of the sofa.

living room rug size

In a dining room, the rug should be large enough so that when you pull out your chair, the chair remains on the rug.  In most cases, you’ll also want to match the shape of your rug with the shape of your table – so rectangular tables suit a rectangular rug and a round tables suit round rugs.

dining room rug

In a bedroom, you might want to consider two smaller rugs on each side of the bed or one that’s large enough to cover 2/3 from underneath the bed and at least a few feet on either side of the bed and in front of it.

bedroom rug

Runners are obviously perfect for hallways but again, make sure that there is visible floor on either side.

hall runner

Consider a rug for your kitchen to make a stunning design statement. Make sure you are willing to give it the care it deserves as it’s likely to get more wear and tear than elsewhere and if you are a messy cook, you might want to give it a miss completely!

kitchen rug

What kind of material is best for your needs?

Clearly, valuable antique rugs, while certainly beautiful, will require more care and specialist cleaning so be prepared for the additional expense if you decide to indulge.  However with proper care, they can last for years and add a truly elegant touch to a room.

antique rug

Synthetic rugs are better wearing but may not be as comfortable underfoot.  Be sure to utilise an underlay to make thinner rugs more comfortable under foot.  On the up side, they are normally less expensive than wool rugs and so if you tend to change the style of your room frequently than it may make more sense to buy something you won’t feel guilty replacing every few years!  

inexpensive rug

Finally, natural materials like sisal and jute rugs are great for high traffic areas although not as comfortable underfoot as a wool or cotton rug. However, they are very practical and don’t require as much care. Simply beating the rug outdoors will loosen any dust and debris and keep it looking great for years.

sisal rug

Now, after all of that advice, remember there are never any hard and fast rules when it comes to decorating. The most important thing is to buy what you know you will love for years to come. And happy rug hunting!

What do you take into consideration when buying a rug for your home?

Kimberly x