How to Choose an Area Rug

When dressing a room, look not at the furniture or walls, but at the floor! Sometimes a carpet is enough. A carpet can be the defining feature of a room or perform a function. No matter what reason you want a rug, there are plenty of questions to consider before buying a rug. Read our comprehensive guide to making sure you buy the best carpet for your space.

Types of Rugs


Knowing the technical language helps you to buy intelligently. These terms refer to carpet construction methods.

Toiled: Yarn pieces are punched through a base and then cut to create a smooth surface (called flor). Tofted carpets throw off more than others.


Hooked: Although it’s similar to a tufted carpet that yarn slings are pulled through a backing, the yarn isn’t cut, leaving a swung flor.


Cnotted: Yarn pieces are often tied by hand to chain fibres on a loom. It’s the most labor-intensive way to make a rug.


The braiding: Lengths of fabric, yarn or natural fibres are braided and then sewn together.


Flat woven: Often referred to as kelims or dhurries, they are woven either by hand or by machine on a loom. There is no support, so they are lighter and reversible.


Shag: Each tufted, woven or knotted carpet with a long pile of plush.

How Big Should My Rug Be?

Her furniture arrangement is as much a factor as room size. Let your room guide you to find the right carpet size for your space.

Living room: You want either all the furniture to sit comfortably on the carpet or all the front legs to be on the carpet.


Dining room: Let the chairs guide you. The carpet must be so large that the chairs remain in the chair even when pushed back from the table.


Bedrooms: The carpet should frame the bed. This means that you need 8 × 10 for a lady and 9 × 12 for a king. The front feet of the bedside tables can sit on the edge.

What If I Love A Rug That’s Too Small?

If a rug is too small, layer it. Because bigger often means more expensive, it can be tough to find the right rug in the right size (in your price range). So layer a small statement rug on top of a less-expensive one that covers more area. One popular combination is tight-weave jute or sisal (IKEA has them for less than $140) under a showpiece.

What If My Room Is Really Big?

A large, open area benefits from two or more carpets. ‘ A rug can make a statement: The breakfast table is there. Come and sit down together in this place, “said Los Angeles based designer Greg Roth of Home Front Build. If you want to cover most of the floor, leave a bare border on the wall. A good rule is to stay 6 to 14 inches away from the wall and stay in a large room at the wider end of the area.

Rugs for High-Traffic Areas

In busy areas and homes with children or pets, carpets can be seriously beaten in the area. Does your house sound? Consider these factors when buying a rug for a busy range:

Durability: Places such as entrances, stairs and corridors require a tight braid or a high numbered (100 to 150 per square inch). Hand-tufted or hand-knotted carpets can withstand the pressure. Or try nylon or wool. Avoid plant fibres (jute, hemp, sisal, bamboo) and silk as they decay slightly.


Cleanability: “Outside carpets look great and you can take them outside and squirt them off,” says Los Angeles-based interior designer Betsy Burnham. Find one made from recycled polyester or polypropylene. If you prefer natural fibres, a wool carpet with a vivid pattern also works. “I like to use the Stark Antelope series very much. It’s completely neutral and you can never find a stain, “says NYC designer Lilly Bunn.

Consider Area Rug Shapes

There is no judgment that dictates that your carpet must be a rectangle. Look for carpets of different shapes that complement the furniture and space of your home.

Furniture: A carpet should reflect the shape of the furniture that will sit on it. For example, a round dining table goes well with a round carpet. Do the same in the living room. If you have a rectangular furniture arrangement, “a rectangular carpet that encompasses the entire grouping makes the most sense,” says designer Annie Sleek, f
Ogerer by Dash & Albert.

Space: Another strategy is to let the choice of shape of your room determine. ‘ If a room is tight and long, avoid a round (or square) carpet. It alienates the corners of a room, “said Bob Margies, director of the installation of Merida Studio, maker of handmade natural fiber rugs.

How to Clean an Area Rug

The work is not over if you have opted for a carpet shape and size. Carpets in the area can get dirty quickly, so it’s important to learn how to keep them clean. Learn to remove stains and clean a rug.

Remove carpet stains: Melissa Maker, founder of YouTube channel Clean My Space, recommends combining 2 parts hydrogen peroxide and 1-piece liquid soap. Pat off the spot with the mixture and let it penetrate. Pat with a paper towel to pull out the stain; Rinse with water. Repeat if necessary. Make sure the carpet can be safely treated by testing a hidden area first.
Eliminate carpet smells: “A light spraying of baking soda-left for 30 minutes, then sucked up-and lifting a rug on sack horses or chairs on sunny, airy working days,” said Jim French, director at Beauvais Carpets.


Vacuum rugs: Turn your carpets regularly to make up for wear and suck weekly without a brush bar.
Refresh vintage rugs: Pro carpet restorers like Detroit Rug Restoration clean and disinfect your carpet and then send it back to you.

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