The Complete Guide to Buying the Perfect Rug for Your Lifestyle

Fun & Fabulous

The Complete Guide to Buying the Perfect Rug for Your Lifestyle

Rugs are so much more than something we simply walk around on. We live on our rugs. We find comfort in our area rugs, and even pull inspiration from them for a room s design. The right area rug moves in the direction of your life.

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Photo: An area rug can liven up the mood and bring cohesiveness to a space.

More than a floor cover, a rug brings a room to life and can provide the creative spark you need to customize your home decor. Choosing an area rug becomes a reflection of both your personality and lifestyle. Since beautiful area rugs are plentiful, it can be an exciting mission to pick just the right rug for your home. One easy way to narrow down the many possibilities is to focus on not just your home’s style, but your lifestyle.

Whether your home is filled with active young children, your pets rule the roost or you commute to a home office across the living room, there’s a rug that suits your needs.

Meet the Experts

Jeff Lewis
Jeff Lewis/Photo via Eric Heimbold

The “Area Rug Look for Less”: Get the Celebrity Look While Staying Within Budget

Jeff Lewis can design a room for anyone—even the fabulous digs of celebrities, as witnessed by his selections for the magazine “House Beautiful —but what he really loves is creating beautiful designs that are available to everyone. His most recent endeavor is a new line of stylish area rugs.

“My goal and challenge with these rugs was to provide high-styled merchandise for everyone, not just the top one percent,” Lewis says of his line. “I’ve built a career in the higher-end market and have been in and shopped in the best stores in the country. I wanted to create a line of high-design rugs at affordable prices.”

Lewis is best known as the house flipper from Bravo TV’s “Flipping Out,” a popular renovation and design series. Through his company, Jeff Lewis Design, he uses his years of experience renovating homes and working as a designer to consult on projects across the country. His influence has moved beyond individual home and room design into creating lines of products like his area rugs and paint colors.

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Photo: A goal of Jeff Lewis’s new area rug lines is to give the look of a high-end celebrity home within a budget everyone can afford.

“I try not to make anything too bold or too specific in a room, which is why I tend to lean towards a neutral palette,” he says, a statement evidenced in the clean color palates of his rugs.  “I generally have a rule of three patterns or textures in a space. That seems to be the right balance.”

To get a celebrity look within your budget, Lewis suggests using area rugs as a focal point.
“You want a room to be cohesive and inviting—not overwhelming.  Adding a rug provides another layer of warmth and texture while helping to define and anchor the room,” he explains. “I am always amazed at how much warmer and inviting a room feels with a rug. Anyone can make a $2,000 rug.  I have found the trick in design is to create a well-styled look within a budget.”

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Photo: Adding pattern to a room’s neutral palate is a great way to create visual interest, as seen in this dark grey room with a patterned Jeff Lewis designed area rug.

When choosing an area rug, Lewis considers the size, the placement and how the rug will be used.
“Most of my clients have kids and/or pets, so I never recommend breaking the bank on a rug purchase.  This line is well constructed, resilient, and reasonably priced,” he said of his new design partnership with The Home Depot.

A rug is a family investment and Lewis understands it can be hard to figure out the right size rug and how to arrange your room.

Here are four of Jeff’s favorite area rug design tips:

  1. To figure out what size rug you need and how you will place it, use painters’ tape to outline the rug size on your floor. You can actually see what the rug will look like in the space, especially when you’re looking at larger sizes.
  2. Use the painters’ tape to help you see what works best for your furniture configuration on and around the rug.
  3. You will always have variables in how you place your furniture. It is okay for the back legs of your sofa or accent chairs to be off of the rug, if that’s what works best in your room.
  4. In a bedroom, float the rug off of the wall a few inches in front of your nightstands. If there is excess space for a rug at the foot of the bed, it’s a great place for a bench seat.

Choose a Rug That’s Customized for Your Lifestyle

Rug-Rats: Rugged Floor Rugs for Families with Young Children

From toddler toes to towering block cities to movie night, many of our happiest memories occur on our rugs. With plenty of traffic and heaps of playtime, both comfort and durability are key considerations in an area rug for a family.

“Designing with kids in mind takes careful planning for durability, functionality and overall style,” says Erika Hollinshead Ward, a designer and family lifestyle expert with Erika Ward Interiors.

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Photo: A comfortable, soft rug can be the place where cherished family memories are made.

Even though an easy-to-clean rug tops parents’ wish lists, there is no need to sacrifice style.

“I truly believe you can design a home with careful consideration to a 3-year-old without your home feeling like a romper room. Style and kids do not have to be mutually exclusive,” says Ward. “With so many products on the market that cater to families, we now have much greater access to stylish finds than we did in the past.”

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Photo: An area rug in the family room not only brings in the visual design element to create a cohesive space, but it makes a comfy spot for children to spread out toys, for family game night or watching movies together.

Kerrie Kelly, ASID, author and interior designer at Kerrie Kelly Design Lab, agrees. “I have absolutely learned that children and the casual elegance we’re all looking for can go hand in hand,” says Kelly. “It’s all about strategic space planning and storage, functional fabrics and floors, and windows that work.”

Functional area rug options for young families include easy-to-clean rugs designed for indoor-outdoor use, synthetic rugs, and sheepskin or wool rugs, all in a low pile. A carpet’s thickness (often referred to as its “pile”) can affect how easy it is to clean. Flat, or low pile, carpets are easier to maintain. Ward advises against high pile rugs in rooms where food is consumed.

Ward adds that synthetic rugs are often the easiest to clean, along with sheepskin and New Zealand wool. “New Zealand wool contains lanolin that acts as both a moisture and dirt repellant. Animal hides offer luxurious texture and warmth in the cooler months.”

“Make it a colorful, patterned rug and you instantly have a range of direction for a room’s color palette,” says Ward. “I can’t think of a better way to temporarily hide a wine or spaghetti sauce stain. Of course, patterns work no matter the color palette. They add visual movement to any room and hold their own, even in a monochromatic room.”

An easy-to-clean rug doesn’t mean a cleaning-free rug. In fact, the best way to keep a family rug in good condition is frequent vacuuming to keep dirt from becoming embedded into the fibers. “For deep cleaning or problematic stains, I always seek the help of a professional to protect my investment,” advises Ward.

“In today’s rug market, with the technological advances in fiber choices and the advances in different fiber protectors (stain blockers and soil blockers), it is possible to turn many rugs into an ‘easy-to-clean’ rug,” says Lisa Wagner, NIRC Certified Rug Specialist and International Rug Care Trainer. Wagner is also the author of RugChick.com and co-owner of K. Blatchford’s San Diego Rug Cleaning & Repair.

“An area with a high risk of drink and food spills, or a place where art projects are commonly happening, may warrant a rug that strongly repels staining and one at a lower price point, because it may need replacing every several years. A synthetic fiber rug may be the perfect choice in that scenario,” she adds.

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Photo: This deep purple indoor-outdoor rug not only provides a pop of color, but the stain-resistant fibers are a soft, comfortable shag.

Wagner says that some rugs are more stain-resistant than others. This is because some fibers have dye sites that can accept dyes more easily than others.

Here are some considerations from Wagner on choosing the right textile for your family’s rug:

Wool: A wool rug may be on the floor for several years and rarely look dirty. These rugs have a natural repellency to moisture that allows for quick spill clean-up, and this can be dramatically improved with today’s wool-safe fiber protectors. Also, due to the cuticle layers of the wool strands, they have the best soil-hiding ability. Wool rugs must be washed, so the rugs need to leave the home for proper cleaning.

Nylon: This material often has stain-resistant fiber protectors applied at the mill, so it allows for easy spill clean-ups. Though it is possible to stain these fibers, the protector gives them a barrier to make that much less likely to happen.

Olefin/polypropylene: This is a solution-dyed plastic with no dye sites to accept food stains, so they are very difficult to stain and can be steam-cleaned by a carpet cleaning company. However, olefin does attract oils, so greasy and oily spills can be tough to clean up. A proper fiber protector can help to suspend those spills for an easier clean. Olefin fibers do tend to turn gray with soiling, so Wagner recommends frequent vacuuming.

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Photo: A grey rug, a popular color choice, can introduce pattern into a monochromatic room.

Expert Rug Care Tips

Parents with young children will get the most out of their area rug by following these expert tips from Lisa Wagner, NIRC Certified Rug Specialist and International Rug Care Trainer.

Vacuum: Invest in a very good vacuum cleaner that is easy to handle. The more often you use it, the longer you can wait between washings of a natural fiber rug or steam cleanings of a synthetic fiber rug.

Clean Spots: Get to spills quickly so that you can stop the damage. Since rugs usually don’t come with care instructions, ask your local rug cleaner for the best way to tackle stains on your particular rug, based on the fiber type and rug construction.

Tackle Spills: For spills on rugs treated with a fiber protector, the best remedy is to blot up the spill, do a little bit of rinsing (while taking care to not get the area too wet) and then lay a folded cotton towel over and under the area with weight placed on it to help wick moisture out. Again, consult your local rug cleaner for tips specific to your rug type.

Pug Rugs: For Homes Where Pets Rule the Roost

Designing a room with your pets in mind means you can still happily highlight patterns that you love.

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Photo: A patterned, low-pile rug is easy to clean, so it works well for homes with pets. Low-pile rugs appear flat rather than fluffy and have a tightly woven look.

When it comes to pets, “Embrace bolder, richer colors and patterns that help you hide stains and general wear and tear,” advises interior designer Kerrie Kelly. “Patterns are forgiving. Should you pull a yarn out or get a stain that’s not easy to remove, a pattern will provide some visual forgiveness.”

Take advantage of performance and patterned fabrics made of 100 percent polyester, and look for stain-resistant versions of carpets or indoor/outdoor rugs, she adds. Hard surfaces with area rugs are a great long-term design decision.

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Photo: Hard surfaces combined with area rugs create an easy-to-clean but beautiful home.

“When those rugs are worn, they’re that much simpler to replace,” says Kelly. “Take that strategy to the next level by bringing outdoor area rugs indoors. They come in such great patterns and colors, and they just can’t be beat in terms of durability and ease of maintenance. A low-pile rug can be hosed off and won’t hold on to dirt and scents.”

Keep in mind that with pets, it isn’t always about visible stains.

“Even when stains are not visible on these rugs, there are often contaminants in the interior foundation fibers,” says Lisa Wagner. “If there are pets in the house (and possibly accidents on the rug) then soaking and washing the rug will be the only way to remove the urine completely—and the lingering odor. Thankfully, these rugs are inexpensive, so when the situation gets bad, the decision is usually to simply replace the rug.”

Kelly, the owner of a yellow lab named Honey, shares her favorite pet-owner to pet-owner tip: She believes that there should be a place for everyone. “Make sure there’s a pet bed in every room. It helps to keep them off the furniture—which will be getting enough wear and tear from the kids.”

Homework: Work from Home in Comfort

The more we enjoy a room, the more time we want to spend there.

Creating a comfortable and appealing home office means being more productive. You can really start to make your home office space work for you by focusing on making it visually appealing.

“Choosing a rug is a big decision. It can be the focal point of the room and helps to pull all the other elements together. When designing an office, start with the rug and then build around that,” says Sarah Fishburne, Director of Trend and Design at The Home Depot.

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Photo: An area rug warms up a home office and makes it a comfortable place to spend each day.

Create an office space that matches both your personality and the functionality that your work demands. A rug can help set the mood, muffle sound and create the comfort needed to focus on work.
“Different people like different things. Some will feel energized by bold color and pattern, while others need a softer look to feel focused,” Fishburne says of letting your personality guide you toward the right rug for your office. Working all day in your home office creates a lot of traffic from both feet and chair wheels. Adding an area rug in the spots that see heavy traffic protects hardwoods from the damage of office chair wheels. An area rug also protects carpeted flooring while adding interest.

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Photo: This rug hits all three goals of a home office rug. It adds visual interest to the decor, comfort to the room and protects the beautiful hardwood from chair wheels. The rug’s placement allows the chair to move freely between the desk and credenza.

Ideally, choose a rug large enough that both your desk and chair will fit on the rug. Allow for enough room so that when move your chair out from under the desk, all four legs or wheels still have plenty of room on the rug. Too small a rug may mean your wheels slip off as you roll backward, which could make your chair unsteady and difficult to maneuver.

When figuring your rug size, also take into consideration the spaces you will roll to on a daily basis. If you need to access file cabinets or a credenza, make sure the edge of your rug reaches to at least under the front edge of those pieces, or further, so you can safely reach them.

Ideas to Floor You: Not all office chair castors and wheels are the same. On many chairs, you can switch out your castors for ones designed for use on rugs.

Stylish Rugs for Your Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

Natural floor coverings are a stylish step in the right direction for an environmentally conscious homeowner.

“Natural and green interiors are becoming an everyday thing right now,” says Jen Visosky, owner of Grace Home Design.

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Photo: Nature is a driving force for this room designed by Jen Visosky. Natural materials, from rugs to fabrics to finishes, are a way to merge the outdoors with the interior. / Image via Gibeon Photography

Visosky sees nature as a driving force in her designs in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “Because we live in a place where the emphasis is on the outdoors, it’s fitting to use natural materials, finishes and other ways to create a seamless connection between the indoors and out.”

There are plenty of natural choices in rug materials to complement a green lifestyle. From soft and luxurious wool to cotton, woven seagrass, and jute plant fibers or sisal (which comes from the agave plant), there are natural and fashionable rugs for every room and style. Cowhide is another popular element that has come into play in floor coverings.

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Photo: Consider a natural jute rug for an eco-friendly green lifestyle.

If your lifestyle includes young children and pets but you want to stay as green as possible, good choices for heavy wear include wool, hemp, sisal, jute and seagrass. Visosky suggests adding padding made of recycled materials, such as cotton.

“So many companies are dedicated to sustainable materials and practices these days, and most high-end rug manufacturers are making very concerted efforts to ensure their manufacturing practices are good for their workers and the Earth,” says Visosky.

Ideas to Floor You: The natural lanolin coating of wool helps organically stop stains and dirt from entering the rug fibers.

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Photo: Cowhide rugs are a natural choice for a floor covering. Natural cowhides come in light, medium or dark brindle and are naturally fade resistant.
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Photo: This smoke grey area rug, great for indoors or out, is part of a great green trend, as it is made from 100 percent recycled water bottles. Needle punch rugs made from 100 percent recycled materials are another great green choice, as well as rubber doormats made from recycled tires.

Check Out These Tips for Your Lifestyle

No matter the lifestyle, there’s a rug for you:

  • Outdoor enthusiasts
  • Food lovers
  • Sports fans
  • Avid readers
  • Music enthusiasts
  • Newlyweds
  • RVers
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Photo for Outdoor Enthusiasts: If you love to be outdoors, bring out the comfort of the indoors. Create a living room outside by using an all-weather patio rug to anchor your space and cushion your feet.
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Photo for Food Lovers: Trying out the latest recipe doesn’t need to be trying on your feet. Adding an anti-fatigue mat to your kitchen relieves back, leg and foot discomfort through a multilayer cushioning system.
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Photo Sports Fans: Sports fans can bring the team colors front and center with a team logo area rug. This adaptable runner rug would look great in front of your entertainment center, fireplace or front door, or use it in front of the sofa where you cheer on your team.

Change of Season – Change of Rugs

Rugs are a terrific starting point for a seasonal change in decor. Because they are such a visual focal point in room design, swapping out one rug for another creates a dramatic change in your room.

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Photo: A natural-colored sisal rug sets a cool and relaxed tone in this living room. To change up the room for fall and winter, switch to a cozy, deep pile rug in a warm color. Complete the transformation by replacing the ocean-colored accent pillows with richer colors.

One of the newest design trends is to layer rugs. One rug can go over another, or even over wall-to-wall carpet to add interest or define a space. Changing out a rug is important for adding texture and providing additional comfort and warmth for the cool months when we spend more time indoors, says Erika Ward.

“Natural fiber rugs like sisal, jute or seagrass are great summer rugs,” she explains. “When winter comes, I love to just add a small, softer rug right on top. Layered rugs add so much interest to a space and even more softness underfoot.”

Sarah Fishburne suggests laying a rug across hard floors to warm a room in the winter. “To really switch things up, paint an accent wall or a piece of furniture for a seasonal pop of color.” Other easy do-it-yourself seasonal changes suggested by Fishburne include changing accent pillows and choosing floral patterns.

Switching out area rugs to reflect the change in seasons means storing away a rug or two. Before you put away a rug, make sure to vacuum it well. As you do so, examine the rug for any spots or stains. They are best treated when you find them, rather than being allowed to linger.

To store your rug, be sure to roll rather than fold it, as folding may leave permanent creases in the rug. Roll it inward so that when finished, the rug backing is facing outward. This way, the rug’s backing will provide the fibers some protection from dust and soil.

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Photo: As you change your rug for the seasons, roll the rug with the backing of the rug facing outward to offer some protection from dust.

Tucking away a rolled area rug and keeping it out of sight in your home isn’t as tricky as you may think. A couple of good options include placing it under a bed, hiding it under the hanging clothes along the floor of a closet, or keeping it in a storage area, such as under the stairs. One surprising hidden spot is behind a sofa placed against a wall. Since you don’t want your sofa to rub the wall, having it out a few inches due to a hidden carpet roll can be a perfect solution.

There are a couple of other storage considerations:

DO place your rolled rug in an area that is climate controlled. You’ll want to avoid the excessive heat of an attic and the moisture of a basement or garage.

DON’T be tempted to stand your rolled rug for storage, as it may sag on its own weight and bend the end of the roll beyond recovery.

Ideas to Floor You: Wrapping your rolled rug in brown craft paper will help keep it dust free when being stored. Unlike plastic, paper “breathes,” allowing air flow that helps prevent odors.

Look What’s Trending: Euro-Style Rugs

Traditional elegance graces today’s modern homes through Euro-style rugs. The history of Europe can be found in its rugs, telling a story of culture and lifestyle. These rugs capture foliage, art and architecture in their details.

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Photo: A grey rug, a popular color choice, can introduce pattern into a monochromatic room. Image via The Home Depot

Versatile Euro rugs are elegant, incredibly soft and provide authenticity to a space. Their size and scale anchors a room and pairs beautifully with modern, transitional or traditional styling, says Kerrie Kelly. These elegant, versatile rugs have been popular for centuries with good reason—they feel as sumptuous as they look. Luxuriously soft underfoot, European rugs make a wonderful choice for bedrooms and living or sitting rooms.

“My favorite look is to pair modern abstract artwork with an antique rug and neutral wall color. The rug’s classic vibe and softness provides warmth to what could be an otherwise sleek space,” Kelly says, adding that these rugs are also effective in a casual setting. “The muted rug style can be so soothing, complementing organic elements, linen fabrics, neutral tones and rustic woods.”

Patterned rugs, such as Euro-style area rugs, are terrific choices for busy families and those with pets. These lifestyles can find the forgiving look they need in European rugs, which often feature a central medallion or star surrounded by geometric floral motifs, or an all-over pattern of small medallions, vines or leaves.

Ideas to Floor You: A Euro-style rug is not only soft underfoot, but is the perfect choice to visually warm up a sleek space.

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European style rug. Image via The Home Depot
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European style rug. Image via The Home Depot

Center Stage: Rugs Anchor Your Room Renovation

No matter if you are planning a mini-facelift of your favorite room or an entire overhaul, start your dream look with a rug in mind. After all, the experts do!

“Often we will start with the rug as the foundation for choosing the rest of the colors and furnishings,” says Jen Visosky. “For example, by replacing a beige carpet with a bright, modern rug, you have already upped the personality factor.”

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Photo: The rich purples and geometric patterns in this area rug becomes an easy inspiration piece for choosing bedding and art.

When your rug is a bold color, a much-loved heirloom or a souvenir from a fabulous trip, you can build your room around it, Visosky says. “Color, pattern, playful pieces… these are all essential to making you feel something when you walk into a room. Living in a home surrounded by things you love does wonders for creativity and inspiration.”

Sarah Fishburne adds, “Start by selecting the rug, which sets the tone for the rest of the room. Once that’s decided, it’s easier to pull together coordinating paint, pillows, drapery or even a new piece of furniture. You need to think about the function of the room and your style preferences.”

Visosky notes, “I see the rug in a room like a really great pair of shoes for an outfit. It can completely transform a space.”

Ideas to Floor You: In an open-concept home, an area rug is the perfect way to designate an open space as a particular “room,” such as adding a rug under your table and chairs to create a dining room.

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Photo: In these before and after photos of a room renovation, you can see the furniture and lighting choices made with a bright rug as the modern inspiration.

Size It Up: Selecting the Right Rug Size and Shape for Your Room

Plan Your Rug Purchase with Expert Advice in Mind

There’s good news when you are dreaming of a new look for a room. More than one size rug—and more than one shape—will work in a room. This means you are not limited to a certain set of rules for choosing your rug. However, there are a few pieces of good advice that can help you make the wisest decision.

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Photo: A round rug is just the softening change needed in a square space with sharp angles evident in windows, bookcases and paneling.

Choose bigger rather than smaller, says Jen Visosky. “One of the biggest mistakes I often see is buying the wrong size rug. If a rug is too small for the room, it will drastically shrink the room, making it look mismatched and busy,” she explains. When considering how big a rug you need and measuring your room, Visosky’s best hint is to remember to allow for access to floor vents and outlets.

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Photo: This room design, by Jen Visosky of Grace Home Design, is anchored by the rich, navy rug. Visosky recommends letting the furniture layout guide you when determining the best rug size for the space./ Image via Carrie Patterson Photography

“The furniture layout and foot traffic will help determine the best sizes for the space,” she says. “For instance, you may want all furniture to rest on top and really fill the space, or you may opt for the coffee table to be anchored by the rug.”

“Ideally, all of the furniture should fit on a room-sized rug,” says Erika Ward. “It’s OK for the back legs of the sofa to be on the floor, but the front legs should have a good bit of space on the rug, or else it looks too small.”

In dining rooms, says Ward, the rug should still be large enough for you to get up from a chair without the legs extending off the rug.

“Most rooms accommodate rectangular sized rugs. However, if there is a space with lots of hard angles, then a round or oval rug may work better to help soften the lines of a room,” Ward says.

Visosky adds, “I personally love filling the room when appropriate. Don’t forget about traffic spaces! They can be a lovely space to add vintage runners of atypical sizes. Balancing size and shape can greatly affect how the space feels.”

Rug Placement Suggestions:

Living Room

  • Place a smaller rug in front of the sofa and anchor it with all four legs of the coffee table.
  • Place a larger rug in the center of the room and anchor it with the front legs of your couch and chairs.
  • Use a room-size area rug, allowing for the same margin of flooring to show around the entire edge of the room. This allows you to place all of your furniture legs on the rug.

Dining Room

  • No matter which shape rug you settle on, be sure that the size allows you to pull out each chair comfortably and still remain on the rug.

Bedroom

  • Place a large rug in position so that all four legs of the bed are on the rug and that there are at least 24 inches of rug visible on the sides of the bed.
  • Place a smaller rug in position so that the back two legs of the bed are on part of the rug and the remainder of the rug extends beyond the end of the bed.
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Photo: Rugs can be placed under all four legs of the bed or under just the back to legs in order to maximize the area of the floor covered by the rug.
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Photo: When selecting the right size rug for under your dining room table, allow for enough room that chairs can be comfortably pulled back from the table and still remain on the rug.
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Photo: Anchoring your rug in place with the front feet of your couch and chairs is a great way to tie your conversation area together in a cohesive way.

 A great rule of thumb for placing your new area rug is to think of it as the glue that holds all the elements of your design together. Place your rug so that it touches at least the front legs of your furniture, or all the legs, if it’s big enough.

As you consider your rug placement, keep comfort in mind. You not only want to enjoy the beauty of the rug with your eyes, but with your feet, too. Make sure to place your rug where you can maximize the enjoyment as you step out of bed in the morning or as you curl up on the sofa at night.

Whether you’re a dog lover, an active outdoor family or an eco-maven, take the time to research and find the perfect area rug to complete your home!

You can research Home Depot’s wide selection of rugs, including many indoor-outdoor rugs, on the company’s website.

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