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Top Tips for Choosing the Perfect Floor Accent: Your Essential Area Rug Buyers Guide

Updated: Feb 18

Struggling to choose an area rug? Our area rug buyers guide cuts through the confusion to help you find the ideal match for your home. Learn to navigate materials, sizes, and styles to secure a rug that elevates your decor and fits your lifestyle, all while keeping maintenance in mind. Start your journey to a more beautiful, comfortable living space here.

Key Takeaways

  • Rug materials range from natural fibers like wool and jute, which are durable and sustainable, to synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester, which are stain-resistant and easy to clean, suiting different home needs and locations.

  • Size and placement are key when selecting a rug; larger sizes can anchor a living room, while in the bedroom, rugs should extend beyond the bed, and dining room rugs need to accommodate chairs when pulled out from the table.

  • Rug styles and construction vary from traditional hand-knotted to contemporary tufted rugs, and choices should be based on budget, desired aesthetic, and lifestyle needs while ensuring regular maintenance for longevity.

Understanding Rug Materials

Imagine walking barefoot on a plush wool rug or a sleek silk rug. Feels amazing, right? But these sensory experiences are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to rugs. The world of rug materials is as diverse as it is fascinating, with rugs made from both natural and synthetic fibers. Some common rug materials include:

  • Wool

  • Silk

  • Cotton

  • Jute

  • Sisal

  • Nylon

  • Polyester

  • Polypropylene

Each material has its own unique characteristics and benefits, so it’s important to consider your needs and preferences when choosing a rug for your home.

Natural fiber rugs, with their durable, aesthetic, and long-lasting qualities, have a certain charm that’s hard to resist. However, be wary of placing a wool rug in damp spaces, as it can lead to mold or mildew. On the other hand, contemporary rugs, with their unique textures and feels, are a testament to the versatility of rug materials.

Natural Fibers

Hand spinning wool
Woman spinning wool

Natural fibers like wool are not only sustainable and biodegradable but also incredibly durable, making them a lasting investment for your home. Wool rugs, with their luxurious texture and natural insulation properties, can bring a touch of elegance and comfort to any room.

But it doesn’t stop at wool. Jute rugs, with their soft feel, and seagrass rugs, known for their natural stain resistance, each offer unique benefits among natural fibers. While they might initially lack softness and come in neutral colors, their design flexibility is one of their biggest strengths.

Synthetic Fibers

On the other side of the spectrum, we have synthetic rugs - affordable, easy-to-clean, and usually stain-resistant, they are practical choices for many homes. They are even a boon for pet owners, with short pile rugs in dark colors being ideal to hide any pet-induced scratches or chew marks.

But it’s not just about indoor rugs. Nylon and olefin blend outdoor rugs create soft, weatherproof options perfect for decks and patios. Meanwhile, polypropylene and polyester-made outdoor rugs are known for their stain, mold, and mildew resistance as well as ease of cleaning.

Rug Size and Placement Tips

Having discussed materials, we should also consider another significant aspect in rug selection – size and placement. Believe it or not, the room’s type, size, shape, and furniture arrangement can all influence what rug size you should go for.

As a general rule, custom-made rugs should allow for 10 to 20 inches of bare floor between the rug edges and the room walls for an appropriate scale. But remember, these are just guidelines. Rugs are versatile decor elements that can help define distinct areas and contribute to the harmony of the space.

Living Room Rugs

In the heart of your home, the living room, the largest rug size that fits the space is usually the best bet. It helps anchor the space and defines the area. A good rule of thumb is to leave approximately 4 to 8 inches of bare floor bordering each side of the rug.

When it comes to furniture placement, the front legs of your sofa and chairs should be on the rug, while the back legs may remain off in smaller spaces. Square and rectangular rugs are preferred for most living rooms as they provide a structured foundation for arranging furniture.

Bedroom Rugs

Your bedroom is your sanctuary, and the right rug can make it feel even cozier. The rug size and positioning can greatly influence the room’s ambiance. Square or rectangular area rugs under any size bed are usually the best bet, with sizes ranging depending on whether you want to include the entire bed frame, nightstands, and a bench at the foot of your bed.

Optimally, an area rug placed under a bed should extend at least 18 to 24 inches from the sides and foot of the bed for queen and king sizes. In smaller bedrooms or to add extra style, consider using a small or round rug to fill empty spaces.

Dining Room Rugs

The dining room is where families come together, and the right rug can make these moments even more enjoyable. The rug should be large enough to fit the whole table and chairs comfortably, with substantial space around the edges to accommodate the chairs when pulled out.

Common dining room rug dimensions include sizes like 9′ x 12′, 10′ x 14′, or 8′ round, depending on table size and room proportions. It is recommended to use a flat weave or mid-pile rug in dining rooms to prevent the bunching of the rug and to provide ease in moving chairs.

Rug Styles and Patterns

Once you’ve decided on the material and size, it’s time to get creative with styles and patterns. From farmhouse to modern, rugs can seamlessly fit into a wide range of interior themes.

Custom area rugs cater to each room’s unique style, focusing on complementing the overall flow of the home.

Traditional Rugs

Traditional rugs, often called Oriental rugs, are valued not just for their aesthetic appeal but also as valuable collectibles. Originating from a range of countries including:

  • Iran

  • Central Asia

  • Egypt

  • Turkey

  • India

  • China

They each contribute their unique style and craftsmanship to this revered art form.

Beyond their beauty, traditional rugs hold much deeper meanings. Some, like prayer rugs, serve religious purposes with specific designs, while others like hunting rugs may depict scenes narrating local customs or historic events.

Contemporary Rugs

Contemporary rugs embody the latest trends and styles, often reflecting the latest in design movements. They frequently feature neutral colors with bold contrasts, making them statement pieces in a room.

Their patterns include abstract lines and may incorporate themes like watercolor effects and celestial motifs. The designs are often asymmetrical, presenting a more avant-garde and trendsetting appearance.

Patterned Rugs

The choice of pattern in a rug can greatly influence the look and feel of a room. Rug patterns are diverse, including:

  • Traditional and ornate designs

  • Modern and minimalist styles

  • Floral patterns

  • Geometric shapes

  • Animal figures

  • Abstract motifs

A patterned rug can add color and interest to a space, complementing white decor and other color palettes without overwhelming the room.

Rug Construction Types

Digging further, the rug’s construction, including factors like choosing a low pile rug or a solid rug, is influenced by lifestyle, budget, and the desired aesthetic appeal in finding the perfect rug. Woven rugs, including sisal rugs, are known for their good quality, often made of wool, and they require professional washing to maintain their status as quality rugs.

Woven Rugs

The weight and softness of the yarn are crucial factors in determining the quality of a hand-woven rug. Woven rugs are generally considered to be durable and long-lasting, with a life expectancy that is slightly less than hand-knotted rugs.

Tufted Rugs

If you’re looking for a cost-effective and comfortable option, tufted rugs are your best bet. They are made using a tufting gun to insert the yarn, making them more affordable than hand-knotted rugs.

While the benefit of tufted rugs is the upfront price that is lost on the back end in longevity/ durability. Tufted rug life span in the 10-20 year range.

Hand-Knotted Rugs

Crafted by skilled artisans, hand-knotted rugs represent a meticulous process that can take up to a year to complete for large rugs. The intricacy and number of knots directly affect a hand-knotted rug’s quality and value, making it a worthwhile investment piece.

Every hand-knotted rug is unique, with individuality stemming from the hand-produced knots and the subtle variations introduced by the artisan’s touch.

oriental rug weaving
Rug weavers in Iran

Caring for Your Rug

Selecting the ideal rug is only part of the journey. Maintaining it forms the other crucial part. Clean up spills on wool rugs immediately to prevent stains, and vacuum rugs weekly.

Use rug pads to facilitate airflow, which helps prevent mildew and mold. Opt for pads made from materials resistant to such growths.

Outdoor Rugs: Enhancing Your Outdoor Space

Taking the inside out, an outdoor rug is a key element in designing outdoor spaces, making them more inviting and comfortable. Outdoor rugs are valued for their resistance to mold, mildew, and stains, as well as their UV protection and fade resistance, ensuring longevity under various weather conditions.

The proper sizing of outdoor rugs permits all furniture to be accommodated comfortably, with common sizes including 2x3, 5x8, 8x10, 9x12, 10x14 feet, and larger.

Rug Pads: Essential for Safety and Longevity

Rug pads serve multiple purposes beyond merely securing your rug. They avert slipping and bunching, keep edges flat, and mitigate tripping risks with the help of a quality rug pad.

They also protect floors from scratches, dents, color transfer, and staining, all while absorbing foot traffic to minimize wear on the rug itself.

Vintage and Custom Rug Options

If you’re looking for a unique and personalized floor accent, vintage and custom rugs are worth exploring. Vintage rugs are classified by age, with rugs over 100 years being antique and those aged 20-99 years considered vintage, often featuring durability and a beautiful patina. Custom rugs offer bespoke solutions and can be an ideal fit for a space, although they may come at a higher price and are more suited for long-term home plans.

Shopping for Rugs: Where to Buy

So, where can you discover these ideal rugs? Online retailers like Wayfair,, and Rugs USA offer vast selections and budget-friendly options with convenient shipping and return policies. Multichannel retailers like Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Target allow customers to shop online as well as in physical stores. For high-quality rugs and design consultation services, Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn are great options.

Our top suggestion is to shop local rug retailers for high-quality rugs most will allow you to try rugs in your space before you buy.


As we wrap up our comprehensive guide to choosing the perfect rug, let’s revisit the key points. From understanding rug materials and sizes to exploring various styles, patterns, and construction types, we’ve covered it all. We’ve also looked at caring for your rug, the importance of rug pads, and where to shop for your perfect rug. No matter what your style or budget, there’s a perfect rug out there waiting for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if an area rug is good quality?

You can tell if an area rug is good quality by checking its back for a knot count of at least 120 knots per square inch. A higher knot count indicates a denser and higher-quality rug.

What to look for when buying a used rug?

When buying a used rug, look for signs of wear and tear, check for any odors or stains, inspect the edges and corners for fraying, and make sure the size and shape fits your space. Good luck with your purchase!

What is the rule with area rug size?

The rule for area rug size is to ensure that the rug covers at least 70% of your floor space, leaving 1 to 2 feet on either side between the rug and the wall. It should also be large enough for all the furnishings in the area to have their front legs on the carpet.

What type of area rugs are in style now?

Spotted designs are currently in style, as they are playful and work well with other patterns, making them easy to incorporate into any space!

What are the benefits of natural fiber rugs?

Natural fiber rugs are a great choice for their durability, longevity, and sustainable nature, making them a long-lasting and eco-friendly option.

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