How to Choose the Best Rug for Your Space

By Caylin Harris
26 Feb 2020
Design-Amber Interiors/ photo-Tessa Neustadt/ Stylist-CJ Sandgren

Consider rugs the foundation of a room. Not only are they a great way to add color and texture to a space, they feel pretty great underfoot too. But how do you choose the right one for your space when it feels like there are so. many. options? Don’t be intimidated! It’s a lot easier than you think. Just don’t ask us how to keep pets off a new rug, because we’re clueless there. Here’s a quick primer on what to think about before you click purchase on that vintage Persian.

Figure out what you need

It’s more than just pretty patterns or colors. You have to think about what you need in the room and your lifestyle before you commit. Here are some questions to answer before you start browsing. Keeping these points in mind will save you from an impulse purchase:

  • Do you want to use one rug or multiples?
  • Do I need something that will hold up to kids and pets?
  • How much do I want to spend?
  • Is this a high or low traffic area?
  • How large does the rug need to be?

Choosing the right size rug

This might be the most challenging part of the whole process. It’s so tempting to skimp on the square footage in order to save a few bucks, but a too-small rug in a big room looks like a postage stamp. A designer once told me to get the biggest size rug for a space that you can and it’s definitely better to go big instead of small. Obviously an area rug shouldn’t look like wall-to-wall carpeting, but you do want the rug to feel large enough for the furniture on top of it. Meaning that there should be enough rug that furniture can sit either mostly or completely on top with some overhang. Measure your space and be on the lookout for physical barriers the rug needs to avoid like heating vents, doorways, and anything else that you wouldn’t want a rug to cover.

picking your pile

So pile is a word used to describe the texture of the surface of a rug. You need to think about whether you want a high pile, think a shag style, or a low pile. A low pile is a smart choice in a room with a lot of traffic or if you’re particularly worried about pet and kid messes. Low pile rugs are much easier to keep clean. A high pile rug works best in a lower traffic room, like a bedroom. Plus, its plush texture will feel amazing when you get out of bed in the morning. While they’re harder to keep clean, they do hide wear and tear a little better than a lower pile rug. Something to keep in mind if you’re looking into getting a woven rug; try to avoid a loose weave especially if you have pets. Their nails can easily get caught and create a ton of pulls (I learned this the hard way). Any cut pile style will hold up better to paws and should be more resistant to pulling.

Design by k interiors

think about sustainability

If you want to make a sustainable rug purchase you’re going to want to keep how and what a rug is made of in mind. Look for rugs made with natural fibers like wool, organic cotton, jute, seagrass, sisal, and coir. Unfortunately, a huge percentage of rugs are made with synthetic fibers or are treated with chemicals that will release VOCs even after they’re in your home. Look for independent verifications to ensure that the rug you’re purchasing holds up to the environmental and health standards that are important to you. Vintage rugs are always an amazing and sustainable option too. Check out Jess’s post for some of her favorite places to shop for rugs and rug pads.

picking the right color or pattern

It’s all about balance! If everything else in your room is really neutral maybe a colorful patterned rug is a way to introduce some new hues into it. Or if you’ve really committed to a neutral palette, a rug can be a great way to add texture to the space. If you’re struggling to design a room, a beautiful rug could be just the right starting place for choosing a color palette to pull colors for furniture or accessories from.

What questions do you have about finding the perfect carpet? Let us know in the comments so we can try to help!

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  1. Rachel wrote:

    Deciding on rugs has always been a difficulty of mine. Size, shape, pattern – there are always so many amazing decisions. I still need to get one for my bedroom but will definitely be going the sustainable route!


    2.27.20 | Reply
  2. Lynn wrote:

    Jess, I just ordered another rug from Wayfair. I have the one that used to be in your living room with the blue suede couch. I just got one for the dining room bring in a bit of rose, blue and gray on sale. My little dog occasionally hits the rug or nearby when she moves on the wee wee pad as she goes. Boy I’m sorry I ever used them. The rains here in Florida with ShihTzu hairy white feet makes a dirty pup lol. Can’t wait to see my new rug colors. I loved the Georgia Geometric rug but it was so much more money.

    3.5.20 | Reply
  3. Kathleen wrote:

    Rugs really are a game changer. Aside from being functional and keeping your feet warm during cold weather, they are the perfect decor piece that can make your room complete. Rooms in our home without rugs just look so bare and empty.

    8.25.20 | Reply
  4. Angela wrote:

    I am looking to find the nightstands in the first photo. Anyway you can point me I. That direction? Thanks so much. Angela

    6.12.21 | Reply
    • Atlantic wrote:

      Me too! Did you find out where they are from? Thank you!

      10.14.21 | Reply

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