Area rugs serve several wonderful purposes. They provide warmth under our bare feet, create another layer of design, tie a room together and absorb sound in spacious rooms.  Often thought of as art for the floor it can set the design scheme of the room allowing for wall color and accessories to play off it. Starting with the area rug to design a space can lead to a great adventure to find the right rug.  How can you find the right rug?  There are a few things to know that will help with your search.


As with any large purchase for the home, it is best to have a budget.  The cost of an area rug can run anywhere from a few dollars at a home discount store to several hundred at an antique dealer.  The key to knowing how much to spend largely depends on the purpose the rug servesConsider which room will house the rug.  A high traffic room will call for a high quality, often-pricier rug, than will a seldom-used space.  A rule of thumb used by designers suggests that the budget be equivalent to the budget for the sofa, but a sensible approach is to spend what you can and get the best quality you can afford for high traffic spaces.


The production method used to construct a rug can have a hefty influence on the price tag. The most labor intensive and therefore most expensive is a hand woven rug, which is constructed by hand tying the yarn.  A less expensive option is the tufted rug, which can be machine made or hand made, but in either case manufactured quickly and inexpensively.  Yarn loops through the backing either by hand or by a machine, and then cut to create the pile.  Wool, cotton, silk, coir, synthetic fibers, and grasses are common materials used.  For a rug that will last, look for good quality wool or silk rugs. Wool wears well and looks better with age.


Area rugs come in many size, the most common are 2×3, 4×6, 5×8, and 8×10.  Before you shop have the measurements of the room you want to place the carpet in. Start by measuring the size of the room, then measure the area where the rug will go. If you want most of the floor covered, leave 12” to 15” around the room.  For a rug in a dining room, you will want to have a rug big enough as to have the back legs of a chair resting on the rug with enough space to back the chair up without leaving the rug.  In the living room, the rug should be wide enough to have the coffee table centered on it.  In the hallway keep furniture off the rug.


The most common shapes are runners, rectangle, and round, octagonal, oval and square. Choosing the right shape comes down to scale and balance of the space. Less is more in entryways and other transitional spaces, while you will want a balanced look in larger spaces.  A large room would call for a large rug, perhaps in a rectangle or a wide oval, but do not skimp on the size in large room, nor buy a rug too big for a small space. It is good to note that most handmade rugs are rectangular.


There are many style options available suitable to all design schemes. One can pick from stripes, geometric patterns, florals, or tone-one tone patterns and even oriental designs. To pick the right one start by having a general idea of the look and feel you favor for the space and build from there.  A modern or contemporary look would do well with a tone on tone neutral, or pair a traditional look with an oriental pattern.  Florals and stripes are perfect for a casual look, while geometrics work well in an eclectic space.  Along with the many available styles are many colors from which to choose too.


Now that you have invested in an area rug, you will want to care for it properly and extend the life of your investment.  Avoid direct sunlight if possible, but should your rug be in direct sunlight, rotate it so it will fade evenly. Vacuum weekly to pick up the usual dust and dirt a home attracts and spot clean immediately if it encounters spills of coffee, soda or wine.  It is advisable to have your rugs cleaned at least once a year and inspected for loose fibers that need trimmed or repaired.  Some cotton rugs can be machine-washed, saving you the cost of a dry cleaner.

All in all, the most important consideration is that you love it every time you walk into the room.

Have you purchased an area rug recently?  If so, what factors went into your decision?