7 Expert Tips To Choose An Area Rug

Regardless of why you are considering to buy an area rug, there are quite a few questions you should consider before making the final buying decision. Remember that you are not buying something that will only be part of your home for a month or two, so choose wisely. Our tips below should make the final decision a lot easier.

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What is the best size for an area rug?

One of the most common mistakes people make (to save money), is to buy an area rug that is too small for a particular room. This immediately makes the whole room look smaller. A good rule of thumb is that there should be no more than 10 to 20 inches of open floor between the wall and the edge of the rug.

There are, however, other factors that could overrule the general guideline above, such as your furniture arrangement. These include:

  • Living room. Here you have two choices: all the furniture should fit comfortably on top of the rug, or at least all the front legs should rest on the rug.
  • Dining room. The dining room chairs should be your guide in this room. The area rug needs to be big enough so that, when the chairs are pushed back from the table, they still fully remain on the rug.
  • Bedroom. A good rule of thumb here is that the area rug you decide on should 'frame' the bed. For a queen-size bed this would mean a 8 x 10 feet rug, and for a king-size 9 x 12 feet.
Blue Beige Polypropylene Area Rug
Beige Polypropylene Power Loom Area Rug
Oriental Blue Jute Area Rug
Silver Gray Polypropylene Area Rug
Charcoal Polypropylene Turkey Area Rug
Black Tan Jute Sisal Area Rug
Ivory Polypropylene Power Loom Rug
Floral Multicolor Polypropylene Area Rug

How should my lifestyle affect my choice of area rug?

Your lifestyle should be one of the biggest considerations when choosing an area rug. If you have pets or children, for example, a white high pile rug is unlikely to be your best choice. If you know that the rug you buy will be subject to a lot of heavy usage including dirty kids' feet and pet hair, a flat weave rug with a bright pattern that hides stains well is the better choice, because it's easier to keep clean and maintain.

On the other hand, if you have no children in the house and your only pet is a budgie in a cage, you might want to create an ambiance of luxury and comfort. In that case, a nice soft rug with a higher pile is a good option.

How do I choose the best rug style for my home?

The variety of rug styles out there is simply astounding. Whatever your lighting style, furniture style or room style might be, there is bound to be something that suits your taste. The days when classic European styles or Persian rugs were the norm are long gone. Nowadays there are many modern alternatives such as strong geometrics, bold florals, as well as simple sisals and jutes.

Apart from practical considerations such as how easy or difficult it would be to clean and how much wear and tear it will be subjected to, the choice here is all about the atmosphere you want to create.

Here are a few useful guidelines:

  • If most of the furniture in the room features a solid color, a good idea is to buy a patterned area rug to match their hue. If the furniture, however, features a vivid pattern, why not opt for a solid or muted color rug to complement the furniture?
  • If you want to create a sophisticated, refined ambiance, look for an oriental rug where the secondary color matches the color of the lounge suite.
  • Remember that in the final instance you and your family will have to live with the rug for a long time, so feel free to choose something that really strikes you as beautiful, even if it breaks most or all of the rules.
Animals Turquoise Polypropylene Area Rug
Polypropylene Ivory Gray Area Rug
Southwestern Ivory Orange Area Rug
Silver Polypropylene Shag Area Rug
Midnight Navy Blue Polyester Area Rug
Oriental Tufted Yellow Area Rug
Oriental Silver Polypropylene Area Rug
Polka Dots White Area Rug

Should I buy a high pile or low pile area rug?

When choosing an area rug, you will have to decide whether you want a low, medium or high pile one. In this regard you should take the following factors into account:

  • Low pile rugs are normally easier to clean and vacuum, and they are typically able to withstand more wear and tear than their high pile counterparts. They are often also not as pricey as high pile rugs. This is why they are a good choice if you have kids or pets in the house.
  • Rugs featuring a longer pile, however, are more luxurious and softer underfoot and will help to make any room look more inviting and cozy.

As a general rule, any room that has lots of foot traffic is a good candidate for a low pile rug, e.g. a kilim or dhurrie. A thicker rug is perfect for those rooms that have less traffic, and where you want to create a more sophisticated ambiance.

Striped Blue Indoor Outdoor Area Rug
Brown Polypropylene Power Loom Rug
Floral Cloud Gray Indoor Outdoor Area Rug
Gray Aqua Indoor Outdoor Area Rug
Abstract Blue Shag Area Rug
Ivory Polypropylene Jute Shag Rug
Mushroom Woven Shag Area Rug
Black Gray Polyester Shag Area Rug

Which is best, a natural or a synthetic rug?

Synthetic rugs are (and will probably always be) very popular simply because they are often the most affordable option.

Natural rugs, however, wear better and they last longer. A fabric such as wool, for example, contains lanolin, which is a natural stain repellent. This is why wool carpets are particularly easy to clean. There are nowadays, however, many synthetic rugs on the market that come very close to their natural counterparts in terms of beauty and longevity, so don't let a limited budget prevent you from buying your dream area rug.

How do I choose the right shape for an area rug?

There is no written or unwritten rule that you have to buy a rectangular area rug. If there is a rule, it's that the shape of your area rug should complement the room as well as the furniture.

  • Room. It's only logical that you will consider the shape of your room when deciding on the shape of the area rug you buy. If a room is long and narrow, a square or round rug is not a practical choice, because they will both leave the corners of the room uncovered.
  • Furniture. The area rug you buy should reflect the shape of the furniture in the room. A simple example is when you have a round dining table, in which case the near obvious choice would be a round area rug. If you, on the other hand, have a rectangular living room and the furniture is arranged accordingly, a rectangular rug makes a lot of sense.
Geometric Handmade Tufted Wool Area Rug
Hand Tufted Cotton Area Rug
Geometric Charcoal Round Area Rug
Saffron Polypropylene Oval Area Rug
Hand Tufted Faux Cowhide Zebra Black Area Rug
Abstract Multicolor Rectangle Area Rug
Oriental Power Loom Square Rug
Sea Of Fish Polyester Area Rug

How do I choose the right style of area rug for my particular decorating scheme?

If there is a single item that can seamlessly pull all the different elements of your decorating scheme together, it's the right type of area rug. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.


For a room with a coastal decorating theme we recommend an airy rug featuring the blue of the ocean combined with a light, neutral color such as gray, beige or white. Florals or soft stripes can make the ideal pattern for a venue with a coastal decorating scheme.

Floral Blue Coastal Area Rug
Navy Indoor Outdoor Coastal Area Rug
Green Ivory Polypropylene Coastal Area Rug
Navy Blue Coastal Area Rug
Handwoven Flatweave Blue Coastal Area Rug
Sand Dollars Beach Coastal Area Rug
Handwoven Cotton Blue Coastal Area Rug
Hand Tufted Wool Teal Blue Coastal Area Rug


If your lounge or dining room has a rustic theme, there are two words that immediately come to mind when searching for the right rug: 'natural' and 'neutral'. Go for natural fibers such as jute, cotton, bamboo or seagrass. And keep the colors neutral and earthy, for example beige, brown or ivory.

Red Polypropylene Rustic Area Rug
Power Loom Rustic Area Rug
Geometric Flatweave Gray Rustic Area Rug
Dark Brown Bamboo Rustic Area Rug
Hand Tufted Ivory Rustic Area Rug
Southwestern Handwoven Wool Rustic Area Rug
Wool Beige Rustic Area Rug
Gray Polypropylene Rustic Area Rug


Glam decorating schemes offer a mix of an upmarket, airy feel and glittering metals, luxurious fabrics and shiny accessories to create an elegant and refined ambiance. Popular colors here include white, ivory, charcoal, and turquoise. Although patterns are not taboo, mono-colors are very popular. If you do go for a pattern, something like a simple geometric pattern will look more at home than e.g. a floral design. Hand-tufted wool is a good choice for this type of rug.

Off White Polypropylene Glam Area Rug
Floral Polypropylene Glam Area Rug
Wheat Cotton Glam Area Rug
Abstract Cream Polypropylene Glam Area Rug
Hand Tufted Wool Ivory Glam Area Rug
Geometric Handmade Tufted Wool Glam Area Rug
Wool Cotton Taupe Glam Rug
Turquoise Polypropylene Glam Area Rug


Contemporary decorating schemes are defined by subtle sophistication, simplicity and clean lines. Geometric patterns and hand-tufted wool are popular choices here, as well as abstract patterns, stripes and handwoven flat-weave wool.

Hand Tufted Wool Contemporary Area Rug
Geometric Polypropylene Contemporary Area Rug
Beige Polypropylene Contemporary Area Rug
Contemporary Shag Blue Area Rug
Hand Knotted Wool Navy Contemporary Area Rug
Hand Tufted Wool Ivory Contemporary Area Rug
Geometric Yellow Polypropylene Contemporary Area Rug
Geometric Brown Polypropylene Contemporary Area Rug


Scandinavian decor is known for its clean straight lines. Area rugs that are black, gray or white are excellent choices for this type of decorating style. If they are accented with minimal designs such as stripes or geometric patterns, they can look really classy. Handmade tufted or braided wool, flat-weave cotton, and faux sheepskin are popular choices here.

Striped Handmade Cotton Scandinavian Area Rug
Geometric Handmade Tufted Scandinavian Area Rug
Shag Hand Tufted Ivory Scandinavian Area Rug
Gray Ivory Wool Scandinavian Rug
Handmade Flatweave Wool Scandinavian Area Rug
Hand Tufted Wool Scandinavian Area Rug
Hand Tufted Wool Black Scandinavian Area Rug
Handmade Sheepskin Scandinavian Area Rug


This style of decoration is orderly, calm and predictable. There is nothing even remotely chaotic or wild about a traditional room. If this sounds like your home, think of a vintage Persian rug, perhaps with muted floral colors. A Moroccan shag rug will also not look out of place, as would a traditional hand knotted Pakistan wool rug.

Hand Tufted Wool Ivory Traditional Area Rug
Floral Handmade Tufted Wool Traditional Rug
Shag Nylon Traditional Area Rug
Green Faux Fur Traditional Area Rug
Turquoise Polypropylene Traditional Area Rug
Turkey Polyester Traditional Area Rug
Oriental Orange Polyester Traditional Area Rug
Beige Polypropylene Traditional Area Rug

If your budget doesn't stretch that far, don't panic. Natural fibers such as jute, cotton or sisal can also create that warm, earthy look - at a fraction of the cost. And although synthetic fibers might not be quite as durable, a good quality viscose, nylon or polyester rug can go a long way to create that same timeless elegance without breaking the bank.

The bottom line is that the area rug you buy should not just be seen as a floor cover. It should also say something about your home, your lifestyle, your family, your pets and yourself.

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.