How to Choose a Rug

Area rugs can do so much to warm up a room that they’re the ideal way to winterize your home. And as anyone who’s watched The Big Lebowski knows, a rug can really tie a room together.

Depending on the size, style, and material of the rug you choose, it may be a big investment so you want to be sure you’re getting it right. There are a few elements you should consider before settling on your choice.

The Right Size


In the living or great room, a smaller rug will work if it’s anchoring the coffee table in a seating group. You can either leave some space between the seating pieces and the rug or place the front legs of the furniture on the rug with casters on the back legs to adjust for height. The rug should approximate the same length and width of the furniture in the space. In other words, the rug should be about as long as the sofa and as wide as any chairs at right angles to the sofa.

houzz_CreativeWestArchitects, Creative West Architects

A larger rug in this area should balance the space by leaving an equal amount of rug around the furniture grouping or leave an equal amount of flooring exposed around the room.


In a dining room, a good rule of thumb is to add four feet to the length and width of your dining room table measurements. The rug should extend beyond your dining chairs when they’re pulled out.


In the bedroom, one large rug is a luxury. The bed will hide most of it so a better option might be to employ smaller rugs in one size around the bed. Softness and warmth underfoot when getting in and out of bed is what you’re going for in this room.

The Right Material

Choosing the material your rug is made from is as important as its design or size. The type of fiber impacts wear and warmth so consider how the room will be used, the amount and type of traffic it will have, and whether you want the room to feel airy or cozy. Here’s a rundown on the most common rug materials and how you might use them.


Home Decorators Collection

Wool is a snug choice that is also durable and water/stain repellent. It’s soft underfoot and ideal for high-traffic and visibility areas such as living rooms and dining rooms.


Dash & Albert

Flat-woven cotton rugs such as kilims or dhurries don’t wear as well as wool but they are generally easier to clean and more affordable. These floor coverings, along with braided cotton rugs, impart a casual vibe suited to breakfast nooks, dens, and sunrooms.


Rugs USA

Silk rugs are luxurious and expensive. Soft and lustrous, they require professional cleaning and are most suited to bedrooms and other low-traffic areas. Keep them out of sunny spaces.

overland hide


Employ animal hides in low traffic areas as well. They’re durable and generally easy to care for, but avoid using them in areas that can be damp or humid.


Natural grasses and fibers offer an earthy feel and palette. Sisal, seagrass, and jute impart rich texture underfoot that you can’t get with other woven rugs. While they are environmentally-friendly renewable choices, they can also be very coarse and difficult to clean. Use these rugs in high-traffic areas or rooms that get a lot of sun.


Shades of Light

Man-made fibers such as nylon or polypropylene are generally affordable options that work well in high-traffic or damp areas, kids rooms, hallways, sunrooms, and in some cases, outdoors. Look for options that offer durability and comfort underfoot.

The Right Look


Capel Rugs

Rugs are made in various ways. The most expensive are the handmade, hand-knotted heirloom quality floor coverings. These rugs take months or years to make and each is unique. Consider this type of rug as an investment that can be part of a family legacy.



Woven rugs may be designed by an artist but are usually created on machine-driven looms that weave multiple colored yarns onto a backing material. Although they don’t wear as well as a handmade rug, they are less costly and generally resistant to moisture and mildew.



Solo Rugs

When you choose your rug, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to match your room’s color scheme exactly. A floor covering that complements or contrasts with your primary hues can add an artistic look to the room. But in general, choose a rug that works with the primary shade and perhaps two additional colors. This hand-knotted example from Solo Rugs would work well in a room that features blue as it’s primary color but would also complement a room with warm persimmon walls.



Solo Rugs

In the rug industry, pattern is divided into three categories: geometric, curvilinear, and pictorial. Geometric patterns are based on simple geometric shapes like squares, triangles, rectangles, and lines. Curvilinear refers to patterns with curved shapes such as swirls, arcs, and bows. Pictorial patterns feature animal or human figures, landscapes, or scenes. Pattern is not dictated by room decor style, although some geometrics might lend themselves to contemporary rooms, while a curvilinear look could suit a casual cottage style well.


West Elm

The Right Care

Walk all over your rug with confidence but keep in mind these few care guidelines to enhance the life of your floorcovering.

-Vacuum it as you would carpeting. Watch any fringe, though.

-Rotate the rug (at least annually) to avoid wear patterns and prevent uneven color fading.

-Remove any spills immediately. Blot excess liquids with paper towels first. Then, apply baking soda or salt to the spot for a few minutes. Once dry, vacuum up the salt or soda. If the stain is too stubborn to remove easily, take it to a professional cleaner.

-Handmade rugs are always best cleaned by professionals. For machine made rugs, follow manufacturer’s instructions. Some can be laundered by hand or machine.

-If your rug needs to be stored, roll it; never fold it. Vacuum or clean it first. You might consider packing handmade and natural fiber rugs with mothballs to deter insects. Store your rug in a dry location.

Thanks to the World Floor Covering Association ( for their assistance with this article.

© Caruth Studio

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1 Comment

  1. You can get The Dude’s stolen rug here! A repo! Hahaha.,1485394195

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