Area Rug Do’s And Don’ts


The area rug is a helpful design tool. They soften hardwood floors, warm a room up, add color or pattern and they anchor whole living areas in open floor plans. Shopping for area rugs, however, can be a bigger challenge than you think. Questions like, “what size rug should I get?” or “is this pattern too bold?” can send you walking quickly in the other direction, putting area rug purchases on hold indefinitely.

What’s an Area Rug For, Anyway?

There’s no need to panic. A simple review of what area rugs are for, and how to implement them in your living spaces, will be enough to get you back online – or out to the stores – to buy rugs that enhance your interiors.

Let’s review the main purposes of an area rug:

To protect your flooring. In addition to providing a softer, warmer floor surface (so much nicer to get out bed and have bare feet meet a nice, plush rug!), area rugs are often used to protect the floor surfaces below. This is especially true for high-traffic areas, like hallways, entryways and stairs. In these cases, you will want to look for more durable rug materials, and rugs that can be easily cleaned, so you aren’t having to replace them on a regular basis.

The trend towards indoor/outdoor living has caused many rug designers to expand their indoor/outdoor rug lines. It’s hard to tell the difference these days and indoor/outdoor rugs make great area rugs for families with small children, pets, or for those aforementioned high-traffic areas.

To anchor a living space. In the world of design, area rugs are used most often to anchor a living room space. This can be your living room, a conversation area or your dining area. It might even be the anchor for the play space in your home’s family room. It tells guests, “this area has a designated purpose” and keeps the furniture from “floating” in the space.

To enhance your decor. Finally, your area rugs should enhance the decor. They provide a finished touch and, in a mostly monochromatic design, they may be the only pop of color or pattern. Area rugs also offer a wonderful way for conservative designers to add a wild pattern without overpowering the space.

Do’s and Don’ts of Using Area Rugs

The wrong area rug can have a negative effect on your overall design, and you certainly don’t want that. Hence, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind when you’re purchasing your rug(s).

DO splurge on high-quality rugs. There is a visible difference between high-quality rugs and their cheaper counterparts. Spend extra for a well-made product and you’ll have an area rug that last a lifetime, or until you’ve tired of it.

DON’T buy a rug that’s too small. Referred to as postage-stamp rugs, these rugs look disproportional to the space. Instead, buy rugs that fit all of your furniture, or at least the front legs of the furniture. If it’s in a dining room, make sure all of the chairs fit on the rug when they are pushed up to the table. In a master bedroom, it’s better to have one large area rug spanning two-thirds of the bed, perpendicular to the foot, than two smaller area rugs that look like bath mats on either side.

DO mix patterns. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns. Just keep the color wheel in mind and choose patterns that are in different proportion to one another to keep things balanced.

Would you like assistance selecting area rugs for your home? Contact Kristina Wolf Design.

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Kristina Wolf Design, Inc., Interior Decorators & Designers, Berkeley, CA