Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug

Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug - roomfortuesday.comHi! How was everyone’s weekend? We had a great time with friends, and I’m feeling energized for the week ahead. Happy Valentine’s Day! Today I wanted to share a new Designer Trick post with you. I’m covering a topic I’m often asked about… how to select the best rug for your space- more specifically, what size? There are multiple things to consider when choosing the scale of a rug… what size is the room, what does the floor plan look like, what are the traffic paths throughout the space, etc. This post is packed full of great info! I’m covering all of the aforementioned questions, I’m spilling my best designer tips, I’m chatting about layering rugs, as well as sharing some examples. I hope it’s helpful. Click through for the post or definitely pin this one for later!

Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug -

Why Every Room Needs a Rug…

First, let’s quickly talk about why area rugs are necessary in regards to interior design- for both functional and aesthetic purposes. Rugs are beneficial in many ways, but here are quick 10 reasons why I personally love inserting a rug into every room in our home…

  1. They add personality and style to a space.
  2. They feel cozy and inviting underfoot.
  3. They help with acoustics & reduce echo.
  4. They add balance to a room.
  5. They help define the floor plan.
  6. They protect the flooring underneath- or disguise floors that aren’t aesthetically pleasing (like my basement carpet, pictured below).
  7. They provide traction and prevent slips & falls.
  8. They insulate a space 10 times better than hardwood flooring- providing warmth.
  9. They can instantly change the way a room looks.
  10. They can guide the design of a space.

Moving on, let’s cover how to select the right rug for your room. There are a few things you’ll want to know and consider…

Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug -

How to Choose The Right Rug…

Obviously if you’re on the hunt for a rug, you already know what room it’s going in. However, there are some things to analyze about the space before you begin the search. Will the rug live in a high traffic area? Does this room see moisture- like a bathroom or kitchen? Is it near an exterior entrance? Being realistic about how the space is used will help you hone in on the appropriate material.

For example, a rug in a high traffic space should be extra durable. If the rug is in a room where moisture is a concern, you’ll want to consider a naturally wicking material such as wool (see this post for more on that specific topic). A rug near an exterior entrance should be easy to clean, as dirt and debris is tracked in.

Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug -


Once you have a good understanding of how the rug will be used in your home, you can begin to narrow down the appropriate material. After all, you want to make sure the rug withstands the test of time and holds up to your lifestyle. Are you looking for a family-friendly rug? Do you have pets? Are synthetic materials a concern? What is your budget or price point? These questions will influence what type of material you need.

If you’re looking for durability and ease of cleaning- wool, a synthetic blend, or a natural woven material like jute, sisal, or seagrass may be your best bet. Some synthetic materials do contain chemicals and when the fibers become airborne, they can be harmful to your health (read labels carefully)… if you’re avoiding chemicals or if creating a green home is a priority for you- choose a natural material like wool, cotton, or woven materials. How about the budget? Natural materials and handwoven rugs tend to cost more than synthetics or powered loomed (machine made) rugs. Another option to consider that’s both eco and durable- vintage rugs… most are made of wool.

Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug -

I have a fun rug fact for you! Contrary to popular belief, did you know that area rugs are actually ideal in homes for those who have allergies?

It’s true. They act as natural air filters. They trap allergens and keep dust in place until it’s time to clean, rather than having airborne particles floating through your home. A cool example? Wool rugs actually remove allergens from the air, trapping them, and prevent the growth of bacteria and dust mites. Studies have also shown that wool is the best material for resisting dust mite infestation. Wool also wicks moisture, preventing mold. It’s pretty neat! I love wool and am clearly passionate about it. Ha!

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Next, let’s chat aesthetic- the fun part of interior design! What look are you going for? What is the style of your home? Are you looking for something bold, subtle, or easy to layer? Regardless, I always try to keep contrast in mind. For example- if your room is composed primarily of solid textiles (upholstery, furniture, drapery, etc), then a patterned area rug may insert the perfect amount of contrast. Another perk? Patterned rugs easily hide stains and dirt in high-traffic areas. Use stylistic elements to your advantage while keeping contrast in mind. If your furniture or drapery is bold or patterned, maybe a neutral or solid rug would look best.

Another good tip? Use your room as a starting point… pull an existing color out of the space and repeat that in your area rug. For example, if your drapery has blue ticking stripes, try to repeat that same blue in your area rug. If you have a large scale painting that is primarily green hues, match that color story in your rug for a thread of cohesion.

Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug - roomfortuesday.comA little color (or lack thereof) goes a long way and can really effect the overall mood of a room. That’s another thing to consider… lighter colored area rugs make a space feel larger and more open, while rich dark colors create more definition, which results in a moody, cozy, or intimate space.

One last tip in regards to aesthetic I feel is important- be sure your rug holds enough contrast to your floor. Our herringbone hardwood floors actually make selecting a rug really difficult. Why? They’re a medium wood tone, meaning I either need a rug that is much lighter or much darker, and they have a very obvious herringbone pattern, meaning certain patterned rugs compete with our flooring pattern. I either have to go with a solid rug or a bold pattern with a contrasting scale (super small or super large) to make the design decision look & feel intentional. Contrast is a very good thing when it comes to style!

Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug -


Last, but arguably most important, I want to cover how to choose the right size rug. Here are some basic rules or numbers to remember…

  • In a living space, you’ll want an area rug that covers at minimum the length and width of your furniture or conversation area, plus a foot (give or take a couple inches). Standard living space rug sizes are typically 8’x10′ and 9’x12′.
  • A rug usually runs in the direction of the length of the focal piece of furniture. For example- it runs parallel to the length of the sofa in a living room, or the length of your dining table in a dining room.
  • In a dining space, the rug should be large enough to allow the chairs to be pulled out from the table (sit down and test it). A good way to measure for a dining room rug? Add two feet to the perimeter of your dining table.
  • Consider your floor plan- you never want to awkwardly walk halfway on and halfway off a rug (one foot on, one foot off). Therefore, be sure to leave at minimum 18″-30″ for traffic paths or the surrounding perimeter of a seating area. The same goes for the perimeter of a room- you’ll want to account for some negative space.
  • Take into consideration your furniture placement in correlation to the rug. Unless I have an abundance of negative space, I prefer putting the front two furniture legs on a rug to better define the area while saving space. Ideally, you want the rug to be anchored by the furniture and floor plan.

Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug - roomfortuesday.comNow that you have some basic info, next you’ll have to do some measuring. First, measure your room or the area where you’ll be installing a rug. Next, write down a minimum and maximum ideal rug size- this will come in handy and give you more options, especially if you’re considering odd sized vintage rugs. What is the most common rug size mistake I notice? Rugs that are too small- that are usually floating in a room. It makes sense because the larger an area rug, the more it costs, so it’s easy for people to go smaller rather than larger. Trust me when I say, it’s always worth saving for the correct size!

My biggest piece of advice for ordering the accurate size rug is to test it! Remember this Designer Trick post on scale? Use painters tape to visualize the actual rug size in your room. It’s the most helpful, inexpensive tool for understanding how the size plays in your space and how your existing furniture interacts with it. Check out the vintage rug Jordan just scored…

Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug - roomfortuesday.comInterested in additional rug posts? It seems I talk about them often because I have plenty of resources in the archives! I’ll link past posts for you below, as well as other Designer Trick posts

Previous Rug Related posts…

Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug - roomfortuesday.comPrevious Designer Trick posts…

Designer Trick : Selecting the Right Rug - roomfortuesday.comI could probably talk about rugs and design all day, but this post is quite lengthy as is. I hope sharing this info was helpful! Please let me know if you have any rug questions. I’m happy to help answer any specifics in the comment section below! If you haven’t already- I definitely recommend reading this post on why you should never skip the rug pad beneath your area rug! It’s really important. We also have rug pads on sale in the Tuesday Made shop right now, if you’re in need! I hope everyone has a fantastic week ahead. I’ll talk to you on Wednesday!

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  1. Hi, great post like always. I have problem with choosing the right rugs and it probably is like that because I want to find the perfect one and it takes too much time 🤦‍♀️ In my new living room the sofa is on a shorter side of rug. I also have problem with my daughter room, there is a carpet (dull dark grey color), but the room is big rectangular shape with a lot of space in the middle. Should I buy smaller rugs to define zones? Kids room could be tricky, especially with all the play-doh, paint and glue 😅

    1. Thank you, Kinga! There is nothing wrong with searching and keeping on the hunt. Finding a good rug that is right for your space really does require a lot of time- and it’s an expensive investment, so I totally understand wanting to put in the time to make sure you’re selecting the best option. I do that, too! Kids rooms are definitely tricky and you’ll want something that is really easy to clean… something with a low pile that is stain resistant and can easily be washed would be ideal. If you’re wanting to make the room look bigger, opt for one large rug that covers the majority of the floor… or if you like the idea of cozy defined areas, buy a couple smaller ones :) I hope that helps! Have a good night!

  2. Good morning, Sarah! Happy Valentine’s Day! (Adore your new headshot!🔥) Let’s definitely talk about rugs! Vintage, of course, and you know I prefer mine as colorful as possible. Fascinating info about wool and allergens; just one more reason to love them. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that rugs are some of my most cherished home purchases. They make a room for me. (Maybe in a tie with cool art pieces…) I enjoy examining the patterns and color variations, and marveling at the skill required for hand-weaving! One of mine has words (maybe a signature?) that I wish I could read. I even think they make vacuuming more pleasant. Ha, too much? Someday I’d love the opportunity to shop for vintage rugs in person (*trip to Morocco*); all of mine have been purchased online. I’ll also need a new house because I only have one possible spot left! I can still look, right? Thanks for an informative Monday morning. Have a spectacular day! (🤞 you get positive news at your appointment!) See you Wednesday!💜

    1. Hi Peggi! I hope you had an amazing Valentine’s Day and got in plenty of cute dog cuddles (I definitely did, ha). Vintage rugs forever!! We’re always on the same page about that. I’d much rather spend my money on rugs I’ll have for years and years, as opposed to other home items. I always make sure to leave room in the budget to account for rugs and textiles. They really change the way a space looks. I wish I had a big loom (my weaving days were over a decade ago) or a trip planned to Morocco… omg- how dreamy would that be?! I feel like we have a lot of room left for rugs in our house, so I’m always on the hunt. I had a good doctor appointment yesterday and a fun Valentine’s Day with Emmett eating pasta and drinking wine. No complaints over here. I hope you had a lovely Tuesday! Talk to you tmrw :) xo

  3. Happy Valentines Day! I enjoy your rug posts-typically packed with useful and informative information; and this one is no exception. As rooms come together in our home I am thinking about them more often. Like you, I prefer wool to the synthetic and powered loom options. It’s wonderful to know that a wool rug has so many benefits. I was always told that rugs make allergies worse and avoided them, but the warmth and personality a rug injects into a home is undeniable. I’m thrilled to hear that the opposite is true.
    Sizing and contrast are two big mistakes I’ve noticed. A family member recently renovated their kitchen, dining, and living spaces. They spent quite a chunk of change on rugs, but all of the rugs were too small for the spaces, they all matched (not my favorite), and the color didn’t play well with the selected flooring. All in all, the rugs actually cheapened the look of the spaces-a mistake I’d love to avoid. For the upcoming front room, I know I’ll need two rugs. One for under the sectional, and another under Jeff’s desk. Is this a situation where it makes more sense for the rugs to match? Or can I get away with choosing a matching pair of jute or sisal rugs, and layer for under the sectional only? You know my paralysis when it comes to choosing rug pattern and color. I’ve no idea how I’ll manage to select the right rugs for such a large space, but hopefully this guidance will make the process easier. Thank you for a sharing all of your tricks and tips; these posts are like having a personal design assistant in your back pocket. Have a wonderful Monday Sarah!

    1. How was your Valentine’s Day, Lauren? I bet the food was a hit with your kids! I hope everyone had an amazing day celebrating. I’m so glad to hear you liked this post. Wool rugs are the best! I think most people have heard that rugs are bad for allergies, but studies show they actually help… which is a major win for us, ha! I’m so excited for your front room. I know it’s going to be amazing. You could either do matching jute or sisal rugs (and have the option to layer), or I think two different rugs could be nice to clearly define each area. You can’t go wrong, so I hope that helps to ease your decision paralysis :) I hope you had a fantastic Tuesday! xo

  4. Happy Valentine’s Day! I love your new headshot and your new haircut! Interesting information on wool and allergies. I grew up with wool carpet and it makes sense that I never suffered with dust allergies until now. My son is the same but worse. Having wool rugs sounds like the best prescription! Ha! Jordan scored a beauty! Do you send your big rugs out to be cleaned? Our family friend would take hers outside and beat it; air it out then bring back in.
    Hope you are feeling better each day & you get good news. Have a great day. Hugs Sarah!

  5. Hit reply too soon! I got my box of Tuesday Made items and I love love love the marble jar with lid!!! Its on my bathroom vanity. I purchased the 2 clawfoot pedestals for gifts but eyeing one to go under a small lamp in my kitchen…ha! Heading to the grocery store to get ingredients for the chocolate lava cake from the new cookbook. Last but not least, I was needing a good bag to put all of our folders, papers, samples for the house and yours will work great! Happy V day to me! HEE hee!

    1. I’m thrilled to hear that, Danna!! You made my day :) I have one on our bathroom vanity, too. I’ve actually got a pedestal post lined up for tomorrow, and you’ll have to see the one I styled under my little lamp in our living room :) Let me know if you liked the lava cakes! We just finished ours yesterday and Emmett has already requested more. Ha! I may wait awhile because I’m the one who ends up eating them all. Thanks for your sweet words about my hair. After a heavy January, I felt like I needed a change and a chop. I’m liking it! For cleaning my big rugs- it depends. I usually clean them myself, but I like to take them to a local rug shop for a deep clean every year or two. I go there anyway to have our Tuesday Made rugs cleaned, it’s just a matter of finding the motivation to move our furniture and haul them. I’m back to feeling really good and am excited for the rest of February. It’s shaping up to be an awesome month and we’re visiting family soon, which has me excited. I hope you had a fun Valentine’s Day and are having a good week! xox

  6. Jennifer Laura says:

    choosing the right size rug is so important- this is such a great resource!

    1. It really is! So happy you liked this one :) Have a wonderful week! xo

  7. Happy Valentine’s Day Sarah! Ooh la la LOVE the hair 😍 Just Beautiful. I love wool rugs and lots of great info here. I have to say vintage rugs are new for me. I’ve never had or seen a vintage rug until I arrived at our home in Florida last month. I was delighted with my rug order from your store, and I was like a little kid I must say.
    I was so excited to finally see one for the very first time. It looks beautiful in my entrance, and I am super happy with it. I could layer a sisal or jute rug underneath I think but for now I’m in awe of its beauty. I have two wool rugs I purchased many years ago, probably close to twenty years I think and honestly, they still look brand new. I love them so much and brought one to our cottage. I prefer to select a rug in person so I can touch, see the color/pattern more clearly but your pictures depicted the color and pattern perfectly 👍 Its amazing underfoot too. Yay! Lots of useful tips and info especially for first time rug purchasers. It can be nerve wracking to get it just right and they are an investment to enjoy for many years. I hope you and Emmett have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and all good vibes for the best news from your doctor, Cheers to a spectacular day 💘

    1. Thank you, thank you Colleen! I felt like I needed a change, so I went for a big chop. Ha! I LOVE hearing that you are liking and enjoying your vintage rug. To this day, that one is still my favorite one we had in the shop- it’s just so beautiful! Jordan (who works with me at Tuesday Made) snagged a similar one for her entryway and she layered it over a scalloped jute rug she found on Etsy- it’s so cute. Wool rugs are the best! It’s awesome to hear you still love your two wool rugs and they’re holding up so well. That’s the beauty of wool. Rugs are definitely an investment, but one I feel is worth it. I’d rather spend my home budget on rugs than other things, but that’s just my personal preference :) How was your pairing?! I hope you also had a lovely Valentine’s Day! We had the best food at our favorite Italian restaurant, and my doctor was giving flowers and chocolates to her patients yesterday- so my post op visit wasn’t so bad. Hope you’re having an awesome week! xo