Interior decorators everywhere will agree that a rug alone can take your room from drab to fab. The right rug adds personality to a space, magically grounding the various furniture and decorative items that surround it. Because it’s such a focal point, buying the perfect rug can come with some challenges. The size, shape, color, and material must all be weighed in your purchasing decision. Here, we guide you through these top factors and break down what you need to know before lugging one home.
Unless you’re opting for a custom design, most rugs come in set sizes. Always measure your room and furniture first and use those measurements to guide the size of the rug appropriate for the space. The bigger the room, the bigger the rug. Similarly, the narrower the space, the narrower the rug. Here, you’ll find the most common sizes, the spaces they can accommodate, and how and where to use them:
3’ x 5’: Ideal for a space that measures 5’ x 7’, a 3’ x 5’ rug can function as a nice accent in a living room, tucked in a nook and under a small lounge chair and side table. Two 3’ x 5’ rugs can also be placed on either side of a full-size bed for a warm and comfortable landing place for your feet.
5’ x 8’: This size is appropriate for an area of 7’ x 10’. If you have a large living room and are on the hunt for a rug to sit your coffee table on, this is it. Remember to keep all other furniture off the rug to ensure symmetry and leave no more than a 5” gap of exposed floor between your sofa and the edge of the rug, otherwise, it’ll look too small. This size also works for a queen-size bed—place it under the foot of the bed for a more modern vibe.
8' x 10’: This size accommodates an 11' x 13', or slightly larger, space. When placed in an 11' x 13' room, there’s about 12” to 18” of exposed floor between the rug and the wall, so your living room, bedroom, or dining area appear more balanced. This size allows for a six-person dining table or a queen bed and two nightstands to look proportional.
9’ x 12’: A popular size for a living room, a 9’ x 12’ rug is intended for a 12’ x 18’ or larger area. You’ll likely be able to sit your sofa, chairs, and coffee table all on one rug. Additionally, this is the best size for a dining table with eight or more chairs because it’s big enough to accommodate chairs pushed back, which can be a safety issue with the wrong-size rug. A king-size bed and two nightstands will also fit atop this rug.
12’ x 15’: Suited for an area of 14’ x 17’, when using a 12’ x 15’ rug, you’ll mostly want to make sure to leave about 10” to 18” of exposed floor from the rug to the wall. That way, it doesn’t overwhelm the space or give the appearance of wall-to-wall carpet.
Typically, the dimensions of your room and the style of your furniture will dictate the shape of the rug. While traditional, rectangular-shaped rugs tend to be the top choice for most people, it’s not unheard of to ooh and ahh over an oddly shaped piece that may or may not play well with your interior design. Let’s explore some different shapes and tips for their best use:
Round: Go round to match the flow of a round room, balance the fluidity of curved furniture, or make a small room appear larger.
Square: Use a square rug in a similarly shaped space or to create a distinct zone in a larger area. Also great for layering, don’t be afraid to place a smaller square rug over a larger one.
Runners: Long and rectangular, runners are perfect for entryways, hallways, and kitchens.
Cowhide: These rugs are known for their shape and style, so highlight those features by finding one that’s small enough to expose its uneven borders but large enough to properly fit the room’s dimensions.
Before deciding on the rug that looks best, consider the room where it’ll be placed and how much foot traffic it’ll get. Take pets, kids, and coziness into account. Even though a high-pile synthetic rug may look nice, it may not be ideal for frequent juice spills.
Wool: Stain-, dust-, and flame-resistant, wool rugs can stand up to almost anything. Extremely durable, they’re also super cozy. They’d work in a living room or other high-traffic areas. But be warned, they’re on the pricier side, don’t do well with humidity, and are also known to shed.
Synthetic: Rugs made of fibers like nylon, polyester, and polypropylene are popular for a reason. They’re easy to clean, comfortable, and affordable. However, some can fade and may not be as long-lasting as you’d hope. If you’re worried about quality, try a small one in your entryway before committing to a bigger style.
Natural fibers: Jute, hemp, sisal, and seagrass rugs provide an earthy foundation to any room. Their neutral color and textural interest are just second to their durability. They’re strong, but they can be difficult to clean and may not be the most comfortable on the feet. Use them in areas prone to the most steps and stomps.
The color or design on your rug can vary greatly and is highly subjective, but there are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re seeking guidance:
- For a safe option, reach for a solid-color rug. It creates a monochromatic feel and can be more easily styled with similar-hued throw pillows, blankets, and décor.
- Use your wall colors to direct you to a complementary rug color. Not sure if your walls and rug will match? Try a color wheel to find out.
- Remember that rug texture and material affect color. What you see online may not always look the same in real life.
- Opposites attract. Match bold rugs with simpler surroundings and neutral rugs with vibrant areas.
- Pick a rug color that has some variation from the floor. You don’t want people tripping over a rug they didn’t know was there.
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