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How to Choose the Right Area Rug

When people talk about flooring, it’s typically about the stuff that stays put until the next remodel (or a massive flood), not an artistic expression that can change the feel of an entire room.

Area rugs are the red-headed stepchild of the design world and we say they deserve better than that! They offer warmth that’s both physical and conceptual, they’re a grounding presence to rooms of all sizes, and though much of the time they’re an afterthought, they’re often the finishing touch.

So… how to pick?

Is it by color, by shape, by size, by texture.

Yes. And more.

Before you start obsessing about the shoulds, consider your lifestyle; think about what you want, what you need, and makes you happy. Get clear on what won’t work, what might work, and what will totally work for your space and dive into the maybes and yeses.

Your lifestyle will play a big part in determining the type of area rug you choose. If you’re in the “This is why we don’t have nice things” camp (pets and children), a good starting point is to look for durability and stain resistance!

If you’re sense of style and beauty is offended by scratchy materials, fiber selection is a big consideration. No jute for you.

Do you have allergies? Think twice about what material you use. Wool is a great choice because it’s naturally resistant to mites. Gross.

Shape & Size

There’s a lot of conflicting “rules” and guidelines out there concerning how your rug should be placed in relation to your furniture. Some say to measure your seating area and chose a size up when picking your area rug. Some say your furniture should be half on, or half off, or totally on, or not on at all.

Yikes. Your best bet is to take to the World Wide Web and read up, look at photos and decide what look appeals to you and works for your home and your budget.


Do you want soft n’ cozy, or industrial strength? Plush or minimal padding? Natural or Synthetic?

Wool area rugs or wool-cotton blends tend to score high on the popularity scale due to their durability and soft texture. Other natural textures include sisal, jute, bamboo, and silk.

On the synthetic side, acrylic, nylon, and rayon are popular choices and more affordable than their natural counterparts. You’ll sacrifice a bit on the soft factor, but when you’ve got a budget, you’ve got a budget.

Our best advice? A white shag rug in a living room full of pets and kids not a good choice.

Color & Pattern

This is the fun part. Some folks don’t care about anything else when picking a rug just as long as it appeals to their visual senses.

Traditional is a safe and sure bet for any house, but if you’re willing to take a walk on the wild side, we say, go for it.

Bold geometric patterns are hot right now as are metallics. Yes, you heard that right – metallics! In rugs! If you’re willing to pick style over function, by all means, get funky with some silver and gold.


Need help with sizing and placement? Here are a few articles that’ll help you decide how big to go and how to best arrange your space around your new area rug.

Pay particular attention to the rug sizing guide – picking a rug that’s too big can be a disaster but if you buy one too small, it can break up your space and make it look choppy and disjointed.

Good luck!

Choosing The Right Size Rug – Style By Emily Henderson
Rug Sizing Guide – Redekers
11 Area Rug Rules & How To Break Them – Houzz

There are several things to consider when choosing an area rug. Find out what they are - read now or pin for later!

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