How To Choose An Area Rug

One of you asked me for tips on how to choose an area rug. Well, you can buy a rug to be functional. Or you can buy a rug for aesthetics. I say buy a rug that serves both those these needs.

There are many “rules” about choosing a rug, when it comes to a decorator’s advice. I tend to go with my gut.

My Selections:

Decide what theme you want to go with. This colorful rug goes well with the blue couch

Safavieh Madison Collection Boho Chic Tribal Distressed Non-Shedding Area Rug, 5’3″ x 7’6″, Blue / Orange – $73.71

I have chosen 8 rugs that are all around 5 X 7. Because that’s typically what size I buy.

When choosing an area rug, think of the furniture in that room in color and size

Hauteloom Tlacopan Moroccan Kilim Pattern Area Rug – 5’3″ x 7’1″ – Beige, Gray $54

You may be noting that I chose rugs under $100. I happen to think it’s kind of ridiculous to pay a lot of money for something you walk on. But to each their own.

This rug is more colorful in vertical patterns, and would go well with neutral colored furniture

Unique Loom Sedona Distressed Southwestern Area Rug, 5 x 8 Feet, Multi/Beige – $54.03

What The Experts Advise:

The experts say: You want a rug that fits, whether small or large. Something that isn’t too big. That is, there is enough floor visible between the wall and the rug,

But also something that isn’t too small, such as a postage stamp under your coffee table.

As a general rule of thumb, find a rug that can contain the major elements of a room or serve as a buffer between built-ins.

In choosing a rug, I like to go with muted tones

Rugshop Geometric Bohemian Design Area Rug 5′ x 7′ Gray – $49.00

Measuring By Room:

If you want to be more methodical, here are some tips by room.

  • Living room: If your sofa is against a wall, ensure that at least its front legs and the front legs of the neighboring armchairs are on the rug. In a large living room with a floating seating area, the rug should contain all furniture, front and back legs, with space around.
  • Dining room: Use the table’s size as your point of reference. Whether circular or round, the rug should extend at least 24 inches on all sides so even a pushed-back chair can still fit within its range.
  • Bedroom: For a spacious room, opt for a large rug that fits under the entire bed and night tables, with extra width on either side. For smaller rooms, the rug should cover roughly ⅓ of the bed’s base; alternatively, try small area rugs on either side of the bed.
  • Kitchen, entryway: Stick with a narrow runner or smaller piece (think 2’ x 3’ or 4’ x 6’) for these areas.
  • Outdoors: Bigger is better here, and you’ll want a rug that is 12-24 inches shorter than the space’s perimeter.
This more muted area rug, cream and black, has a more boho look

nuLOOM Creek Tribal Moroccan Area Rug, 5′ x 8′, Grey – $51.75

Patterned Or Plain:

Not everyone is into patterns. But if your furniture and walls are all solid colors, a patterned rug can really bring your room to life.

Likewise, if you have patterned furniture, a solid rug can have a grounding, calming effect. It’s all about balance.

In how to choose an area rug, I say black and white will always work

Safavieh Tulum Collection TUL270Z Moroccan Boho Distressed Non-Shedding Area Rug, 5’3″ x 7’6″, Black / Ivory – $59.20

A more colorful yet bohemian area rug

Safavieh Amsterdam Collection AMS108K Moroccan Boho Non-Shedding Area Rug, 5’1″ x 7’6″, Ivory / Multi – $72.18

In choosing a rug size, this neutral gray will work

Well Woven Novriku Beige Persian Floral Medallion Area Rug 5×7 (5’3″ x 7’3″) – $59.88

Rug Size:

In terms of rug size, a rug that is too small for the room is one of the most common mistakes.

For most average-sized rooms, there should be about 10 to 20 inches of bare floor between the edges of the rug and the walls of the room.

Depending on the size of the room, you can go as low as eight inches and as high as 24 inches. In any case, make sure the rug is centered in the room and the distance between the rug and the wall is the same on all four sides.

Now these are “rules” from decorators. Like I mentioned, I just go with my gut and place the rug however it pleases me. That is my best tip for choosing area rugs.

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8 Comments

  1. Great tips, Brenda. I always think that a rug defines the personality of the room. A decorator once told me that it should be the first thing you pick in a room. I can’t say I’ve followed that advice, but it usually is the second thing, following the sofa, or bed.

  2. I like all the area rugs you chose! I have an area rug in my living room over the vinyl plank flooring! My daughter and I had a very hard time deciding on just the right one. I’m like you and can’t see spending $100.00 for something you walk on! We have carpet in the bedrooms but they are getting worn out so we bought runners to put beside the beds.

  3. Some great choices there… I love area rugs and have them in several rooms of my home… some I got at IKEA and several others are flor.com tiles… now the tiles are a bit pricey… I wait for sales and markdowns and you only need to purchase just what you need… they are easy to “install”,
    you use large adhesive dots they provide to assemble the rug… the tiles are just under 20″ square and made from recycled materials… I live in a small house and I’ve done a rug under my dining room table and a runner and even wall to wall on my sunroom porch… lots of patterns and colors and easy to cut to size with a rotary cutter or utility knife and a straight edge ruler… you might like to poke around the site for fun.

  4. Thanks for this post, Brenda. I was the one who asked about area rugs. I loved all of those that you found. Right now, I have a rug very similar to the first one. It has held up extremely well and I’ve had it for a long time. Like you, I refuse to pay over a $100 for something that we walk on. There are so many beautiful rugs on Amazon. I think I paid $79 for my rug. As much as I love it, I’m ready for a change. I want something lighter in color and more serene. And, definitely one that will withstand pets. Thanks again for a great post. Now to make a final decision. I have looked at so many rugs at Amazon that I dream about them!

  5. I like your idea too, Jan. Personally, I roll up a large shag style rug and store it during Christmas, when I put up a real tree. The last thing I want, is to step on a dried tree needle that fell off into the shag rug. That hurts, lol! Anyone else know what I mean?!!

  6. This year I’ve been really drawn by the bright happy colorful rugs you showed, like the first Boho style rug and the Southwest area rug. The colors are delicious, they remind me of sherbert – cool for the spring and summer. I bought something similar in late spring in a modern take on a traditional pattern for my living room. It made me smile every time I went into that room. Over the weekend I rolled it up for fall/winter and put down my cream and black “shag” rug and am changing out the decor that will stay in place until Christmas decorating begins, but the bright happy colored rug will be back next spring/summer.

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