Skip to content
Choosing Area Rugs

Choosing The Right Area Rugs: A Guide

When you move into your home, you spend months tweaking each room until it’s just right. Picking out the best furniture, hanging shelves, and buying decor are rites of passage for anyone moving into a new place. But when the essentials are all taken care of, and a room still feels like it’s missing something, it may be time to invest in area rugs. These small carpets can make any room a little cozier — if you choose the right one.

Just as the right small carpet can add to the room’s atmosphere, the wrong one can throw it off balance. Follow these tips to learn how to pick out the perfect area rug.

Area Rugs

Choosing the right area rug for your room can be a long process, but it’s an important element to decide on. One of the most common design mistakes is in choosing your area rug last. When in fact the area rug can help you decide on other factors that will help you in designing the room. Things like the color of your walls and what style the room is going to be.

The main rule of thumb to remember when choosing an area rug is to buy the largest size you can.

Consider Your Budget

Area rugs shouldn’t be cheap, but they shouldn’t break your bank, either. Instead of going with the clearance rack or a synthetic carpet that will end up falling apart quickly, wait to buy until you can afford a high-quality rug. The floor isn’t going anywhere while you save up your funds.

There’s a difference between a great deal and a waste of money. You may end up replacing an inexpensive carpet so often that it costs you more than a quality version would have.

Area Rugs

Decide the Location

Where you put the rug is as important as the choice of carpeting. You may think you want it in one place, but if you think about the actual placement, it might not work as well as you imagined.

Since you’re buying the best rug you can afford, you want to make sure it is as free from damage as possible. Moisture and water are definite factors to avoid, as are things like direct sunlight and pet hair.

Area Rug Style

Check Out the Styles

If the current location of your visualized rug is in front of the window or at your dog’s favorite resting point, consider moving some furniture. Rearrange things until you have a better place for the carpet. As you narrow down the flooring’s permanent placement, also think about the sizing elements. An area rug should accentuate the room, not overwhelm it. Keep your rug small enough that a few inches of bare floor show on each side.

If your experience with area rugs is limited to those offered in discount department stores, you may be in for a shock when you start a more extensive search. There are so many carpeting styles that narrowing down the one you love can be a difficult task.

 Oriental Area Rugs

Oriental carpeting and Persian rugs are two of the highest quality offerings. Most people avoid these, though, if they have pets or kids. These carpets are sensitive to traffic, and a lot of activity can ruin them.

Some of the most popular styles for an average household include: 

  • Traditional carpeting with multiple choices of thickness in mixed patterns or solids
  • Modern/contemporary carpeting in abstracts, minimalistic colors and prints, and trending designs
  • Simple, elegant, and modern bordered rugs that provide symmetrical balance in their environment
  • Bold/geometric carpeting in vibrant colors and patterns draws attention away from the furnishings and to the rug itself

Learn About Complimentary Matching

Once you see the options you have for styles, a particular pattern or color may call you. Hold off on adding the “perfect” rug to your cart until you make sure it will match the room you want it on display in. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same hue or pattern with your large area rugs, either. Rugs are accessories, that complement what you already have rather than blend in with the theme.

Modern Geometric Area Rug

Use these tips to verify the rug you want truly is perfect for the location where it’s going to be:

  • Keep the intensity of the hues the same. For example, pearl and pastel shades need other similar colors; bolds go with bolds, neutrals with neutrals.
  • Consider the scale of the prints you use. If you have large geometric patterns in your furniture or on your walls, your area rug should match the scale of those designs.
  • Don’t mix too many colors, even if they are complementary. Stick with two or three of your favorites and find a rug that enhances those color palettes.

Think About the Room’s Traffic

Before you decide on the rug you want, ask yourself if it is feasible with the traffic in the room. No traffic means you can choose anything from traditional to Oriental, and the average household has average traffic.

Every room has a different amount of use, too. The dining room carpet is subject to spills more than the bedroom would be, typically. Think about how much traffic your new rug will be seeing.

Living Room Area Rugs

Living Room

An area rug needs to be large enough so you can fit all the furniture on the rug. If the rug is just “floating” in the middle of the room sitting underneath the coffee table, it’s too small.

Geometric area rugs or abstract area rugs among others are used to define areas of zones of spaces. One zone would be the sitting area. The coffee table, sofa, and chairs would be included in the sitting area. If you can’t fit all these pieces fully on the rug, then the front legs of the sofa and chairs should at least be on the rug. When you have all your furniture on the rug it makes the space seem larger than it is. Leave at least 30cm or 8 inches up to a maximum of 24 inches between the rug and your living room walls.

Best options: Wool, acrylic, polypropylene, sisal, jute.

Bedroom Rugs


For a bedroom, the size of the bed is going to help you determine the size of the rug. Generally, if you have a queen-sized bed the minimum size rug you need is an 8 x 10. Still apply the same rules for spacing between the wall and the rug as you would do in the living room area. You should aim to place the area rug at least two-thirds under your bed with good landing space on either side of the bed.

Best options: Anything goes! You can afford to go for more luxurious and high pile options as the bedroom is considered a low-traffic area.

Dining Room Rugs

Dining Room

If you choose to have an area rug underneath your dining table, make sure the style is suitable for the area. Having a white or an extremely light-colored rug under your dining table is not practical. Food is bound to fall onto the rug at some point. Also, make sure that the size of the rug accommodates when the chairs are pulled out from the table. The chairs still should have a rug landing underneath; a general rule of thumb is to allow an extra 36 inches. If your dining chairs have caster wheels on them then a durable and low pile rug is a must.

Best options: Flat-weave, low pile rugs, dark, patterned, sisal, jute, seagrass.


Even if you have carpet in some rooms, you can add a rug on top. It will give the room an extra cozy feeling. If the carpet you have is a neutral color bringing in an area rug is a chance to add some interest with a pop of color, an exciting print, or a pretty pattern. You can also layer a smaller rug on top of a larger one and play around with color and texture. Starting with a neutral color base is easier and a lower pile is easier to work from.

Low Pile Area Rug

Low Pile & Flat-Weave

Low pile and flat-weave rugs are the options you want to look for if you’re needing something durable and hard-wearing. Especially if that area is going to get a lot of footfalls. They’re easier to clean and low maintenance.

If you’re considering the layered look then start with a low pile or a flat weave rug.

High Pile

High pile rugs are looser and have longer strands and loops. They are a lot more luxurious and softer but can be difficult to maintain. It’s better to keep these to low traffic areas such as the bedroom.


An area rug can be just the thing to cozy up an empty space in your room or bring boldness to simplicity. When you’re ready to invest in a small carpet to enhance your home, use these tips to keep it all balanced together.

To learn more about area rugs, you can read some of our blog posts such as; "Transform Your Patio: A Guide to Choosing Outdoor Rugs"Five Tips for Choosing Your Kitchen Rugs, and 6 Different Rug Design Styles For Your Home. 

Previous article 5 Tips for Choosing Your Kitchen Rugs