How to Choose an Area Rug

An area rug can be a defining feature of a room. It can either blend in or serve a function, so you need to consider size, style, color, and function.

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An area rug can be a defining feature of a room. It can either blend in or serve a function, so you need to consider size, style, color, and function.

Believe it or not, an area rug is your chance to create an impression that will sweep your guests off their feet. In addition to adding personality and warmth to a room, an area rug is a quintessential decorative accessory. But with so many styles, patterns, colors, materials, and sizes to choose from, how can you really know the right area rug for you?

Some of the biggest things to consider when choosing a rug area include your lifestyle, personal style, size, and function of the rug. By making these factors your priorities, you’ll find an area rug that suits your design vision and serves your household needs accordingly.

And thanks to the internet, there are endless area rug options available at our fingertips that choosing the right one if no mean task. That’s essentially why we’re here to make it easy by sharing a thing or two on how to choose an area rug that’s perfect for your space.

Table of Contents

Things to Consider when Choosing the Right Area Rug

Choosing the right rug for you involves taking into consideration several factors. Here are the most important ones.

Who Uses the Room?

Before investing in an area rug or delving into other factors such as style, size, color, and pattern, it’s vital that you take some time to consider the functionality and practicality of the area rug. Who will be using the room where you intend to place the rug? Do you have high-energetic kids or an elderly individual with reduced mobility?

If you’re buying the rug for a kid’s room, consider going for a cotton rug as it’s easy to clean. You can also choose a loop rug that’s soft but very durable. On the other hand, you can choose a low-pile rug, which reduces the risk of tripping or getting stuck, if it’s meant for a room used by an elderly person or someone with limited mobility.

If it’s meant for a family living room, you can choose a low-maintenance area rug that’s made from synthetic fibers. This is a great fit for a family as various things such as spills and dirt cannot easily penetrate it.

Rug Styles

There are almost endless area rug styles to choose from. This means that your area rug style should no longer be limited to the classic European styles or traditional Persian rugs if they don’t suit your style preferences. While these are time-honored rug alternatives, there are modern and contemporary options to choose from.

But before picking on a particular rug style, it makes perfect sense to educate yourself on the available types of area rugs and the kind of atmosphere that you want to create in the room. With that in mind, here are some types of rugs.

Tufted – This type of area rug has yarns that are perforated through a backing before being cut to form a suave surface known as a pile. They, however, tend to shed more than others and may not be perfect if you have kids or pets.

Hooked – This type of rug is almost similar to tufted rugs only that the yarns aren’t cut, so the piles remain looped.

Braided – This type of rug is made by braiding the fabric before being sewn to one another.

Knotted – This type of rug involves having yarns tied, mostly by hand, before warping fibers on a loom. Such rugs are labor-intensive and are among the most expensive.

Shag – This type of rug involves tufting, weaving, and knotting the rug to create a long and plush pile.

Flat-Woven – Also known as kilims, this type of rug is woven on a loom by hand or machine and doesn’t have any backing. This makes it very light and reversible.

Rug Material

The type of rug that works best for any given room in your home may hugely depend on how much foot traffic it gets. This means that you should consider the rug material based on how often the rug or room will be used.

If you’re planning to add the rug to a busy area such as a hallway, you can consider going for a rug that’s made of jute or sisal. While these materials are durable and capable of withstanding everyday wear and tear, they can easily catch debris and are quite challenging to maintain.

Wool and wool-blend rugs can be a great option for kid’s bedrooms or playrooms. This is because they’re resistant to stains and are very easy to clean. You can consider a hand-tufted rug for your bedroom or a thick shag rug for your home office.

That’s not all; a distressed or flat-weave rug can be perfect for areas with moderate traffic such as the dining room. Such rug materials can offer soft comfort underfoot while also withstanding the occasional foot traffic.

Some of the most common rug materials include:

  • Cotton – It’s natural, easy to clean, durable, versatile, and soft
  • Acrylic – It’s synthetic, highly-resistant to sunlight, mildew, and stain
  • Nylon – It’s synthetic, easy to clean, durable, versatile, and perfect for great foot traffic
  • Jute – It’s natural, durable, very soft but can fade when exposed to direct sunlight while the fiber will disintegrate when exposed to moisture
  • Sisal – It’s natural, very strong, and stain-free
  • Olefin/Polypropylene – It’s synthetic, repels water, quite affordable, and impervious to stains


Your area rug is almost akin to fine works of art for the floor. This means that color is a critical consideration when choosing the right area rug. Simply put, the color of your area rug should set the tone for the entire room, so it is a very critical decision.

You have to choose a rug with a color that you can live with day in, day out. Again, keep in mind that a brightly-colored rug will bring the best if other parts or things in the room have quieter colors. If you already have other items in the room such as furniture, you have to take into consideration how the color of the rug you’re choosing will work best with other colors in the room.

In essence, choose a color that will work with the existing hues of the floor, walls, ceiling, and other objects in the room. Remember, rugs can either blend in or stand out but you must consider the effects that you want to create. You can follow the 63-30-10 rule when color coordinating.

  • 60% of the room should be the dominant color (walls and large pieces of furniture)
  • 30% should be the secondary color and this is where your area rug color comes in handy
  • 10% should be accent color (vases and lamps)

Sizes of the Area Rug

It wouldn’t make much sense to choose a rug that’s either too small or too big for your room. This is one of the most common interior design mistakes, so you should be well aware of the size of your room and the size of the area rug that will perfectly fit in the room.

For an average-sized room, you should always consider leaving 10 to 20 inches of bare floor between the walls of the room and the edges of the rug. That being said, here’s a brief look at the right rug size for your spaces.

  • Living Room: All the furniture should sit on top of the rug perfectly
  • Dining Room: Let the dining chairs guide you. The rug should be large enough that the chairs remain on it even when pushed away from the table.
  • Bedroom: The rug should frame the bed. In other words, you need a 9by12 for a king-sized bed and an 8by10 for a queen-sized bed.

Rug Patterns

Not everyone is a fan of patterns but rug patterns can play a critical role in bringing your room to life, especially if your walls and furniture have solid colors. Again, you can choose a rug with a solid pattern if your walls and furniture are already patterned.

In essence, choosing the right rug patterns can bring a calming effect to your room. You have to remember that it’s all about creating the right balance, so it’s essential to consider the patterns of your furniture and walls before buying an area rug and whether it will create the much-needed balance and calming effect.

You also have to keep in mind that the pattern of the rug is closely related to the color of the rug, so you have to consider how the two will work together.

Your Lifestyle

Your lifestyle is, without a doubt, one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing the right area rug. If you have children or pets, choosing a white area rug might not be a good idea. If you have a lot of foot traffic, you should choose a rug that’s capable of dealing with a lot of wear and tear. It should also be a lot easier to clean and maintain.

Differently, you can go for a softer area rug if you want to enhance a sense of comfort and luxury in the room.

High Pile vs. Low Pile

It’s of great importance to consider the type of pile you want when choosing an area rug. Low pile rugs are usually sturdier than high pile rugs and can be ideal if you anticipate a lot of foot traffic. They’re also easier to vacuum and clean than high pile rugs.

On the other hand, high pile rugs are more expensive than low pile rugs and can be ideal if you want to make your room cozier and more appealing. With that in mind, you should consider a low pile rug for a room with a lot of foot traffic while a high pile room can be ideal for a room with less foot traffic.


Honestly speaking, you have to be willing to clean a rug as they generally need to be cleaned and vacuumed regularly. Low pile rugs are very easy to maintain while high-pile rugs are more difficult to clean and should be sent to a professional cleaner.

To this end, it’s easy to note that your room isn’t complete without an area rug. But with so many options out there, the above-described features should make it a lot easier to choose an area rug that’s perfect for you.

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