Whether you’re furnishing a new place or simply in serious need of a room refresh, an area rug can make a world of difference.
“Changing out the area rugs can bring a whole new feel to a room, without changing the furniture,” says Leslie Saul, designer and founder of Leslie Saul and Associates.
But with so many area rug options out there, how on Earth do you pick one that’ll complement your home just right? We went straight to the experts, and they gave us their best tips for choosing the right size, pattern, and material, as well as the secret to perfect rug placement.
What size should you get?
The first thing you need to decide is what size of rug is the best fit for your room. Do you want to cover the whole room, or just a small section?
“So much of choosing a rug depends on the size and shape of the room,” says San Francisco Bay Area designer Michael Friedes. “The general rule of thumb is to go big. A small rug with all of the furniture clustered on it makes a room look smaller.”
You should also think about how you’re going to use the rug in the room.
“The size you choose is a matter of overall function,” says Kita Williams, CEO and lead designer at KMW Interiors in Los Angeles. “If you have an open-concept home, rugs can be used to differentiate between the living space and the dining area.”
What material should you choose?
Photo by Arent & Pyke
While wool rugs have traditionally been the most popular, other natural materials, like cotton, silk, and even seagrass, are gaining in popularity. Synthetic rugs are also a less expensive alternative that are made to look nearly identical to rugs made of natural fibers. So what do the professionals prefer?
“Some people are adamant about having rugs that only use real wool. However, wool does have its drawbacks,” Williams says. “It’s difficult to clean and, depending on how the rug is woven, can leave hairballs everywhere.”
She prefers viscose rugs because they’re “durable, easier to clean, and can come in a supersoft weave.”
Sisal is another popular choice with interior designers like Cecilie Starin of the Bay Area.
“I love using rugs made from sisal because it’s a sustainable material that’s very durable. Plus, they’re easy to clean,” she says.
Before you make a final decision, do your research. If you have kids, pets, or lots of high-traffic areas, make sure you’re choosing a material that’s built to last, not just look pretty.
What about the pattern?
Photo by RugStudio
Now that you know all about selecting the right size and material for your rug, it’s time for the fun part: choosing the pattern. Are you going to go bold with bright colors and patterns, or stick with something neutral? One easy way to narrow it down is to look at your furniture.
“If your furniture is covered in colors and patterns, you should try to keep the rug neutral to create balance,” Williams says. If the opposite is true—your furniture is neutral—you have more room to experiment with a bold geometric or abstract pattern.
Where should you place it?
For a rug that’s placed in the living room, Williams says, the basic rule of thumb is to have about a quarter to half of the sofa on the rug.
“Accent chairs and club chairs can be partially or fully on the rug depending on the size of the rug and the layout you choose for your living room,” she says.
In a bedroom, the rug should extend from under the bed to at least the nightstands.
“When you get out of bed, your feet should touch soft rug, not the cold floor!”