8 Dos and Don’ts for your Area Rugs


If you’re a bit hesitant about getting full carpet flooring, area rugs are a terrific alternative. They are easier to remove, clean and require less commitment because you can more quickly switch one out if you decide to redecorate or simply get bored with your old design. 

Apart from some benefits convenience-wise, there are two important roles area rugs play when it comes to your interior design: one – it enhances it; two – it helps define a space. 

Don’t go rushing out to buy yourself an area rug right at this moment. It takes time to select a rug that’ll work for your space and make you fall in love with it over and over again. Plus, there are some very important rules you need to remember first. 

Fret not, it’s not difficult. Just that these dos and don’ts can either make you love or hate the look your rug creates in a space. No sweat. 

8 Dos and Don’ts for your Area Rugs | CUBICOON

Here they are:

1. DO ensure furniture sits on your rug

Settle all your furniture pieces and seating first before deciding on your rug. The first rule of business for rugs is to see that it extends under all the big, key, statement pieces in your space. 

This point cannot be stressed enough – got to make it first on the list. 

Let’s take your living room for example: your furniture should all be able to sit on top of your rug. If your space is extra large, make sure at least the front legs of all the main upholstered pieces rest on the rug, the back legs can be off. However, the smaller pieces should wholly be on the rug with a little bit of extra space. Don’t let them sit on the edges. 

When it comes to your dining room, this point is even more crucial. The rug should be big enough to accommodate the table and all the chairs. To help you gauge the size, the chairs should still securely be on the rug even when pulled out – this will prevent the area from becoming a trip hazard.

8 Dos and Don’ts for your Area Rugs | CUBICOON

2. DON’T skimp on size

If there is one thing that matters when it comes to rugs, it’s size.

Rugs can be expensive. The bigger you go, the higher the price; so, it’s understandable to see some hesitance in buying large rugs. But, going big now will save you some regret and money from having to replace it later on. 

One common mistake in rug selection is getting one that is too small. Remember, what we said above – an important role of rugs is that it defines a space. A rug that is too small – or some people say ‘postage stamp’ size – will look out of proportion or dwarfed in a space. Worse yet, it may even make the space look smaller than it actually is. 

Ideally, your feet should settle comfortably on the rug when you’re sitting on a chair or couch in the living room (which goes back to the point #1). In the bedroom, when you decide to have a rug under your bed, it should be large and wide enough that you step down onto it when you get out of bed.

Quick tip: it’ll be better to go wider for bigger beds like a queen or king. 
8 Dos and Don’ts for your Area Rugs | CUBICOON

3. DO position rugs equally in a space

The furniture you decide to place on the rug will be the guide for your rug measurement and placement. Ideally, the rug should be centered on all these main pieces and an equal amount of floor space is left on all sides. 

For proper rug placements, you usually have to aim for symmetry.

There’s quite a bit of wiggle room here depending on the size of your space. But if you can’t reach that equal footing when adjusting your furniture and rug, then it means only one thing – the rug is the wrong size for that space. Unless… its an oddly-shaped rug or you want to put it an angle and layer it with another rug (check out point #7) – this could also be an option.

Here are some easy measurement guidelines for you: Eighteen inches is the most common space allotment per side but you can go anywhere between 8 to 24 inches. If you’re working with a smaller space, you can make it work with just eight inches but don’t go anywhere below that or that area might be a trip hazard or give the feeling of ‘falling out’.

8 Dos and Don’ts for your Area Rugs | CUBICOON

4. DON’T place your best rugs in danger

Getting a rug that perfectly fits your space and your overall interior theme has you feeling quite proud of this accomplishment. Naturally, it’ll be tempting to position your best rugs as the focal point of the house or space. 

Before you do that, think again.
8 Dos and Don’ts for your Area Rugs | CUBICOON

It’ll be best to avoid putting expensive rugs in the dining area where there is a high possibility of spills, food stains, moisture and water that could forever damage your lovely rug. Another case is if you have children or pets, you might want to keep this precious rug from common play areas and control what they do on the rug. 

Cleaning off some of the initial dirt and damage will be possible but constant exposure to these elements and excessive usage of cleaning agents and scrubbing will gradually destroy the rug’s design and material. Rugs that add a touch of luxury are usually made with more delicate materials that require equally delicate care.

So, avoid hazardous, high-traffic areas for your best rugs and make sure to do the next point. 
Baby spilling juice on an area rug in the living room

Photo source: The Ruggable Blog

5. DO research on what rugs are made of

Do not impulse buy rugs for your home. After you’ve pinpointed the area where your rug will live and its purpose for that space, do research on the most fitting material for your rug. Define whether it’s a more functional rug or one that adds a sense of luxury. 

First, consider the pile height – basically referring to how thick the rug is. Tufted rugs have higher pile height because the yarns are left longer. Flat woven or kilim rugs (like those vintage, tribal or Persian rugs), on the other hand, have low pile height because there are no shaggy bits. 

Commonly, plush rugs are placed in bedrooms, reading nooks, or libraries where there is less traffic and to achieve that extra cozy feel. Thinner, short pile rugs that can weather more steps and spills are used in kitchens, dining and high traffic and play areas because they are more washable and easier to clean. Pet hair can be easily vacuumed from low pile rugs too, it’ll be near impossible on plush rugs. 

If you’re looking for durability, look for rugs with synthetic fibers, wool blends or natural fibers like sisal or jute. These are inexpensive and can handle a lot of wear and tear; although it might be challenging to clean a large spill. So, you’ll have to weigh your options and budget depending on the usage and place of your rug. 

8 Dos and Don’ts for your Area Rugs | CUBICOON

6. DON’T shy away from colors and pattern 

Going back to the earlier point – rugs enhance your design.

Rugs are a terrific option to give a bit of character, personality and playfulness to a space. Assess your space and design then decide whether your rug will complement the overall look and feel or give it a bit more oomph and pizzazz

While you should maintain cohesiveness and harmony in the design and color of your space, you don’t need to limit yourself and get too matchy-matchy. You can choose the same color palette but opt for rugs of different scales so they don’t compete with each other. 

There are different ways to choose a colored or patterned rug.

8 Dos and Don’ts for your Area Rugs | CUBICOON

If your room is colorful, go for a rug with a neutral tone or single color so it complements the space and brings out the color instead of competing with it. Soft, neutral-colored rugs can also tone down the space and prevent it from being overwhelming. On the other hand, if your room has a neutral palette, go for a brightly patterned or colored rug to give the space a boost. 

On the other hand, if you’re going towards the patterned rug route, it’ll be easier to place a rug with an all-around repeat pattern because of design consistency. But, if a rug with an asymmetrical design catches your eye, keep note of where the design is and where your furniture will sit.

One tip: have it near or under an airy or open-frame furniture so it doesn’t obscure the pattern. 
Geometric patterned rug of blue and gray that matches the coffee table

Photo source: Turnstone

7. DO try the layered rug look and feel

There are times when it’s hard to decide which home decor or design to go for. The same is true when it comes to rugs. So then, why not get both? Layering rugs is a trend that is going to stay, according to some experts. 

Since rugs can make or break the look and feel of a space, you really should look from the floor up. It might be challenging and intimidating at first but it’s all about trial and error (especially on the top rug). Besides, layering rugs makes it look like you know what you’re doing. 

Layered rugs in the living room

Photo source: Kathy Kuo Home

There are a few advantages of going for the layered-rug look. 

  • it’s the best opportunity to feature a rug you really like but may not be big enough for the space
  • it allows you to play with more patterns and colors
  • if a large rug has wonderful patterns or color but is too overwhelming, you can taper it down with a smaller neutral-colored rug on top or choose a smaller one with the patterns instead 
  • you can add more texture and depth to the space if you play with different materials
  • you don’t need to strictly adhere to centering its position with the furniture for the accent rug
  • they add so much extra coziness especially if you’re going for those with higher pile height
One very important note when layering rugs – size matters.

One should be large (the dominant rug), the other should be small (the accent rug). This way, they don’t compete with each other, and each is a focal point in itself. 

Next, you should layer on the bias. The large rug should be positioned straight and equal following your furniture – going back to points 1, 2 and 3. Then, the smaller one should be laid on the bias – meaning angled or skewed depending on what you want to feature and how your furniture is positioned. You’ll get the right positioning for the accent rug after a few tries. 

Layered rugs in the living room

Photo source: Cactus Creek

8. DON’T be afraid of going ‘beyond the rectangle’

As you start the rug-research-trial-and-error process, you’ll start to open your mind on rug design ideas that go beyond the classic rectangular shape and approach. 

There are some homes or spaces where the regular rectangle would not fit or would look awkward. In this case, shop for a round, oval or irregularly-shaped rug like a cowhide, faux sheepskin or faux fur sherpa. But like all else, it should be proportional to the space or furniture it will feather if you’re using it as the main or as an accent rug. 

Colorful round rug in the living room

Photo source: Apartment Therapy

These rugs can be used on their own or for layering. Round shaped rugs can soften an edgy space. While other irregularly-shaped rugs can be used as accent pieces that draw the eyes to the ground while complementing the entire design and adding interest to the room. 

Instead of just being something you lay on the floor, it becomes a piece of artwork or even the focal design point of the space. 

Irregularly-shaped rug in a corner sitting area

Photo source: Nordic Wall Canvas

You may also like

Leave a Comment