How to Pick the Perfect Area Rug
A powerful decorating element, an area rug can transform a room in a snap. Here’s a little guide to help you find “the one” for your space!
- Braided: Fabric, yarn or natural fibers are braided and then sewn to one another.
- Flat-Woven: Woven on a loom, either by hand or machine, flat-woven rugs are often called Kilimanjaro or hurries. They are lighter and reversible since they don’t have backing.
- Hooked: Loops of yarn are pulled through a backing, and the yarn isn’t cut, leaving a looped surface.
- Knotted: The most labor-intensive way to make a rug, pieces of yarn are tied (often by hand) to warp fibers on a loom.
- Tufted: Similar to a hooked rug, pieces of yarn are punched through a backing but are cut to create the smooth surface (or “pile”) that we are familiar with. Tufted rugs tend to shed more than others.
- Shag: Any tufted, woven or knotted rug with a long, plush pile.
What size do I need?
Room size and furniture arrangement are the key factors when choosing a rug size. If a space is really big, it can be broken up by two or more rugs.
- In a living room: You either want all the furniture to comfortably fit on the rug, or all the front legs to fit on the rug.
- In a dining room: Your choice is guided by the chairs. The rug needs to be large enough so that the chairs stay on the rug even when pushed away from the table.
- In a bedroom: The rug should frame the bed, meaning an 8×10’ is needed for a queen size bed and a 9×12’ for a king.
TIP: If you find the perfect rug and it is too small, consider layering it on top of a larger rug. Since bigger rugs are often more expensive, it can be tough finding the right rug in the right size and still meet your budget. Layering a smaller statement rug on top of a less-expensive one that covers more area is ideal!
High-Traffic Area Rugs
Because rugs can take a serious beating in high-traffic areas like entries, staircases and hallways, consider durability and cleanability when making your choice.
- Durability: Hand-tufted or hand-knotted rugs are probably the most durable, but you’ll need a tight weave or high knot count (100 to 150 per square inch). You can also try nylon or micro-hooked wool. Avoid silk and plant fibers like jute, hemp, sisal or bamboo, as they break down easily.
- Cleanability: Outdoor rugs are great visually and they are easily cleaned – just haul them outside and hose them off! Look for one made from polyester or polypropylene, or if you prefer natural fibers, wool works as well.
What rug shape should I get?
Much like size, the shape of a rug is determined by the room and furniture. A rug should complement the shape of the furniture that will sit on it. For instance, a circular dining table and a round area rug are a natural pairing. A rectangular furniture arrangement in the living room would call for a rectangular area rug.
Another approach is to let the shape of the room dictate your choice. If a room is long and narrow, a circular or square shaped rug would not work well.
Natural vs. Synthetic Rugs
While synthetics are popular and affordable options, designers tend to lean toward natural fiber rugs because they last longer and wear better. In addition, wool (which contains lanolin) has a natural stain repellent making it one of the easiest fibers to clean. So if it’s in the budget, go natural.
Area Rugs on Carpeting?
In a word: Yes! Area rugs – especially patterned area rugs – definitely work on top of wall-to-wall carpet. Consider a tufted rug since their heavy structure allows them to stay in place.
Cleaning and Care
Area rugs can quickly become dirty, so it’s important to know how to keep them clean. Rotate your rugs every so often to even out wear and vacuum weekly without the brush bar.
To eliminate odors, try sprinkling baking soda on them and letting it sit for 30 minutes before vacuuming it up. Also, consider airing them out every once in awhile by hanging the rugs up outside and letting the wind do its thing.
Since rugs wear from the bottom up, a rug pad is a must-have to protect the fibers from constant abrasion. In addition, rug pads prevent slipping, add cushion and keep the rug from rippling. TIP: Look for a pad that is ¼-inch-thick and 2 inches smaller than your rug on each side (so that it won’t show).