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When choosing an area rug for your home, don't forget these things...

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

Area rugs are more important to a room's design than the average home owner tends to think about. So the next time you are in the market for one, consider more than whether you like it or not. Consider these things:

  1. Anchor: If we were to liken the role of an area rug to a role within a 'typical' (don't even get me started...) family, an area rug would be like Mom. Moms, whether you know it or not, are one or not, care to admit it or not, pretty much run the show. They keep the schedules, clean the clothes, help with the homework, bake the cookies at the last minute for the class party that Nellie knew about three weeks ago but failed to tell you until bedtime the night before. Moms, simply put, are the anchors to a family. Now, if I shockingly have a Dad reader, I'll have you know that you're an anchor too, but in a different way. We still love our Dads, but even Dads know...Mom is in charge! An area rug is the Mom of the room - and when used well, can anchor the ENTIRE room's design in such a way as to not only make the furniture look neat and tidy, but to make all the accessories line up to play nicely. Area rugs are like that. Why?

A. Role: an area rug not only defines the seating area, acting like a little friend

who's waving "Hey, I'm here. Take notice. Here I am." But consider a room with a hard

floor surface (wood, laminate, tile, etc.) hosting a seating area WITHOUT a rug and

what you get is the appearance of a room full of floating furniture. No good.

B. Inspiration: when chosen correctly, the area rug can inspire the rest of the room's

design. Consider this: an area rug with bold colors - red, orange, yellow, green and

blue on top of a creamy base. The pillows and throw blankets holding sentinel on the

couch and arm chairs have colors that are represented on the rug. The lamp bases,

books, frames, artwork, candles all have colors that repeat what's happening on the

the area rug, pulling the room together so it looks much more grown up and intentional

than Punky Brewster's tenny bopper color-threw-up-all-over-the-place room.

C. Size: to say size matters is a gross understatement. Size DEFINITELY matters, but this

doesn't necessarily mean that bigger is always better because it definitely is not. Having

an area rug that is too small immediately communicates something other than 'I have a

cohesive, comfortable home.' Sometimes it communicates: a) I didn't know what I was

doing but I liked it b) it was on sale and I liked the deal c) I just needed something so I

grabbed the first one I could find d) I didn't know where to look so I just went into the

first brick and mortar I could find and shopped there - this is what they had.

NONE OF THESE, btw, are bad reasons why a rug is too small for the room.

Sometimes you do the best with what you know until you know better...and that, my

dear, is why you're here. So, now you know.

2. Measurements: they matter! They matter so much, you're going to not only need a tape

measure but you'll also need to dig through your scarf or sock drawer (or if you're super

pracitcal - blue tape will work too) to bring a bunch to the space you're wanting to place

an area rug. But first, do these things:

A. Rule of thumb: don't you just love a good 'rule of thumb'? Rules in general are

so rigid, but a rule of thumb has flexibility - a little wiggle room. And...if you look

closely at the above picture AFTER you read this RoTh you'll notice it ISN'T following

it. Curious? Generally for a rug to 'fit just right' the front legs of the furniture the rug is

anchoring needs to be placed on top of the rug. Now you're looking at the picture,

aren't you?!

B. Furniture layout: look around your room and what do you see? Is all of your

furniture placed neat and tidy against the furthest wall? Look for any opporutnities to

pull the furniture away from the wall to create a more cozy, inviting space. Don't just

look for those opportunities...actually MOVE the furniture. Now that you have them

placed just-so it's time to get out your tape measure.

B. Measure: measuring the outline of your seating area, how big is it? Would a 5 x 7

rug do the trick? Maybe you need a bit larger of an area rug to fit comfortablly under

the front legs of the furniture. Try measuring an 8 x 10.

C. Outline it: to really get the visual of what you just measured, grab those socks or

scraves you took from your closet and create a visual border so you can visualize what

each of the sizes look like? Do one of those sizes work? If not, what needs to be

tweaked before selecting the perfect rug for your space? Will a different size do,

or do you need to shift where you've placed your furniture. Play around a bit before

you commit. It's way easier, not to mention less expensive, to do it with socks and

scarves than to do it with a rug.

3. Color: you've done the prep work, now it's time to start having some fun! It's time to

choose the area rug that you're going to bring home to basically be the boss of the place.

No pressure, right? Think about these things:

A. Inspiration: if you've forgotten already how area rugs work as an anchor for the

room's design (not just for the furniture) go back and read that. When chosen well,

the area rug can serve very nicely as way to tie all of the design elements and home

decor pieces together.

B. Contrast: sometimes contrast is a good thing, and other times contrast isn't. In the

picture above, there's not a lot of contrast between the light gray couch and the creamy

white area rug. How does it look? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to me - it

works. It creates a landscape that is bright and airy. Now take a peek at this photo.

This is a BEFORE example of a room re-fresh I worked on with a client last year.

Not only is the wall color dark, but the dark rug with the dark furniture sitting on top creates the illusion of heaviness. With a

lake view just beyond those windows, heavy wasn't the look this client was going for.

Curious to see the after?

Same furniture, different wall color and a different rug. The contrast of rug color in the AFTER example creates some negative space - some breathing room. The muddled blues in the rug are working overtime making it pet, kid and shoe friendly by hiding the dirt that is

inevitably tracked in.

You can see the full room re-fresh journey here.

Would you like help creating your OWN room re-fresh?


* Book a Room Edit

4. Cost: the best part? Area rugs don't have to cost a lot...they just don't. And they

shouldn't...especially if you have pets, kiddos (epecially the potty trainting kind) or wear

shoes in the house. some of those pennies for the pillows that are inspired from

the colors in the rug!

Would you like to listen to the podcast version of this post?

Happy styling!



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