The right throw rug can absolutely pull together a room’s design. But limited sizing options and high price tags have a tendency to make homeowners shy away from committing to a purchase. It doesn’t need to be that way. With a little forethought and research, you can pick the perfect rug every time.
If you’re in the market for a great area rug, read on. We’ve compiled a list of our best tips and tricks for how to figure out which rug works best for you. Keep this post in your back pocket — you never know when an area rug will be just the thing you need to complete your next project.
Some interior designers will tell you a throw rug should be the very first thing you purchase when you’re putting a room together. They’re reasoning is that once you pick a rug that catches your eye, it will already have a defined color scheme. You should be able to use those existing shades as a base to build a coordinating look.
Others will take the opposite approach. They’ll tell you a throw rug should be your focal point, much like the one shown in the photo above. In their eyes, the color (and possibly the pattern) should be loud, proud and bold. It should accent the rest of your design and immediately draw the eye.
In reality, both schools of thought are correct. It all boils down to personal preference. Regardless of which advice you choose, aesthetics should be your first point of consideration. If a throw rug doesn’t fit in well with the rest of a design, it will stick out like a sore thumb.
Consider how and where the rug will be used. Image: Rikki Snyder
As always, function should play a key role in your selection. Think carefully about how you intend the rug to be used. Is it meant to catch dirt in an entryway before it can be tracked into the house? Does it need to be cozy enough for people to sit on? Is it mostly meant to be visually stunning? The answers to these questions will determine the material.
First, consider the rug’s pile, or the density, height and thickness of its fibers. High-pile carpets like shags are typically more comfortable. In large doses, though, they can feel overwhelming. Low-pile and flat-weave rugs, on the other hand, are less padded, but they’re also easier to clean.
Once you’ve decided what type of rug works best, narrow down the materials you want to use. Natural fibers like wool and cotton are best when you’re looking to bring a soft and luxurious feel to the room. Woven fibers like jute and hemp are useful when you’re looking to put the rug in a high-traffic area. Before making a decision, check the cleaning instructions to ensure you’re prepared to properly care for the rug.
Next, it’s time to move on to deciding what size of rug to buy. This can be tricky since rugs are typically only found in standard sizes and, unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules on how to do it right. That said, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
If you’re choosing a full room rug, remember to leave room for a border of flooring around all sides. Eighteen inches is considered the standard border measurement.
If your rug will be grounding a seating area, measure the length and width of the seating area in its current layout and buy the next size up.
If the rug is meant to highlight a piece of furniturelike a dining table, make sure it’s big enough to extend beyond the piece with room on all sides. For a dining table, 24 inches is standard. However, it should be less if you’re working with a smaller piece like a coffee table.
When in doubt, this is an occasion where bigger really is better, especially if your measurements are between standard sizes. You can always hide overflow under your furniture, but a too small rug will make your whole arrangement look disproportionate.
The last detail to consider is how your furniture will be arranged on the rug once you get it home from the store. There are three options to consider: putting all of the furniture legs on the rug, only putting the front legs on or having the legs stay off of the rug completely.
Traditionally, arrangements have worked like this:
Legs fully on: Full-room area rugs and rugs that ground a specific item like a dining table
Front legs only: Seating areas
Legs off: Narrower rugs like runners
That said, these days, the rules are far more lax. As you can see in the photo above, furniture arrangement is in the eye of the beholder. However, consistency is key. If you’re using more than one area rug in the same room, make sure to match their arrangement styles. This will help the room stay appropriately cohesive.
Use these tips to find the perfect rug every time. Image: Luis Jauregui
All things considered, every room could benefit from the addition of an area rug. Though it may seem like a small detail, this design element has the uncanny ability to round off a design incredibly well. Ultimately, though, many homeowners pass on this addition because rugs can be tricky to buy — but not for much longer. With the help of the tips in this post, you should be able to pick the perfect rug for any room.
Are you a fan of throw rugs? Do you think they’re an essential component of successful designs? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.