Hi! 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!
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…
- They add personality and style to a space.
- They feel cozy and inviting underfoot.
- They help with acoustics & reduce echo.
- They add balance to a room.
- They help define the floor plan.
- They protect the flooring underneath- or disguise floors that aren’t aesthetically pleasing (like my basement carpet, pictured below).
- They provide traction and prevent slips & falls.
- They insulate a space 10 times better than hardwood flooring- providing warmth.
- They can instantly change the way a room looks.
- 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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
A 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!
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.
Now 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…
Interested 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…
- My Latest Vintage Rug Haul
- Roundup : Amber Lewis x Loloi Rugs
- Roundup : Neutral Area Rugs
- Design Discussion : Wool Rugs in the Bathroom
- Why You Shouldn’t Skip the Rug Pad
- Best of Etsy : Vintage Rugs
- Roundup : Outdoor Area Rugs
- Choosing a Rug for the Bathroom
- Amazon Finds : Area Rugs
- Best of Etsy : Muted Vintage Rugs
Previous Designer Trick posts…
- Examine a Room in 2-D
- Artwork Installation
- Tips for Getting Scale Right
- Choosing the Perfect Paint Color
- Making Moodboards & Conceptualizing a Room
- Floor Planning
- Mixing High & Low
- Planning & Managing Projects
- Choosing Fabric
- Mixing Metals
- Choosing Lighting Temperature & Bulbs
I 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!