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September 17, 2013

5 Tips for Selecting the Perfect Area Rug – and 1 Thing to Avoid

by Kim

Monarch-Area Rug.jpg

Once upon a time, upscale homes often had luxurious wall-to-wall carpet throughout, with vinyl or wood confined to the kitchen. These days, both builders and homeowners prefer the ease and beauty of wood or stone floors. When carpeting makes an appearance, it’s limited to the bedrooms. If you love the warmth and softness of carpet, or you crave a splash of extra color or pattern in a room, an area rug is the perfect solution. Often overlooked, your floor is a key element in creating interior design. Often, designers will choose the rug before they choose the paint color or accessories.

Cozy, inviting, decorative and easy to use, area rugs are hot decorating accessories that serve many purposes. These rugs can:

  • Provide softness, cushioning and warmth underfoot;
  • Help define a seating area or “room” within a large, open floor plan;
  • Add color, texture or pattern to a room’s décor;
  • Create a focal point for your room;
  • Balance or anchor the space;
  • Let you change the look of a room in a matter of minutes;
  • Allow you to add a current on-trend item (such as a black and white chevron pattern or an animal print) to your room without making a long-term commitment.

SSource: Shaw Floors via Pinterest

Have no idea where to start when it comes to picking an area rug? Keep these tips in mind: 

Size matters

You want your area rug to be big enough to cover the space, but still leave room for flooring around the edges. Be sure the rug is large enough for the furniture to sit on.  This means that, at the minimum, the rug extends beyond the coffee table and under the first set of sofa or chair legs. When it comes to area rugs, bigger is usually better: a good rule of thumb is to allow 8 to 18 inches on all sides.

Room for dining

If you’re using an area rug in the dining room, be sure it extends far enough that chairs don’t fall off the edge when they’re pulled out. This usually means that the rug must extend 24” from the edge of the dining table. In addition, your chosen rug should mimic the shape of the table. If you have a square table, you should avoid a round area rug. 

What direction are you going? 

Be aware of one-directional patterns. Ask yourself: will it look upside down when you enter the room?  

Balanced patterns

Balance the scale of the rug’s pattern with other patterns in the room – use a large pattern if you have smaller patterns in your upholstery and other fabrics, and vice versa.

Pattern faux pas

Source: HGTV via Pinterest

Avoid patterns with an ornate center. Will the coffee table cover up the rug’s focal point?  Consider an off-center pattern, or a pattern that is consistent throughout the rug. 

Custom Considerations 

If you need a very large or odd-sized rug, consider having a custom-bound rug made from broadloom carpet. Visit your local carpet store and choose a carpet that fits your needs – you will find a wide array of shags, geometrics and tonal plushes – and arrange to have the edges finished. 

Voila, you have a custom-fit area rug for your space!


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Kim is a window treatment and drapery certified designer helping clients in Ottawa and surrounding Ontario communities find the perfect window treatments for their homes. She has more than 14 years of experience in interior design and window coverings.

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