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November 28, 2017 > Shopping for an area rug? Consider these tips before you buy

Shopping for an area rug? Consider these tips before you buy

By Anna Jacoby

Area rugs can be both beautiful and practical in your room. From an interior design standpoint, rugs support the color scheme and style of the room, and can be the perfect starting point for selecting paint and furnishings. Rugs can help define separate areas in a space, and can also serve as a stunning focal point in a room. From a practical standpoint, rugs add warmth to a cool floor, help reduce noise, and provide a comfortable place for kids to play. With the enormous selection of rugs available, however, choosing the right one can be daunting. Here are a few tips to consider when choosing an area rug.

Decide how much you would like your rug to stand out in your room. Will the rug be a focal point, functioning like artwork? If so, then choose a rug with a beautiful design or motif. If your design style leans more Òtraditional,Ó for example, you might choose a rug with a center medallion (consider using a glass coffee table in this scenario so you donÕt cover up the beautiful design). For more contemporary styling, select an abstract, or a geometric design. If you select an area rug with a large and busy pattern, keep the other fabrics in the room simple. For example, choose a sofa in a solid color and chairs in a subtle stripe or textured pattern. If youÕd rather call attention to other features in the room, such as that gorgeous oil painting or your new red sofa, select a rug with a muted pattern or solid color.

I generally donÕt recommend rugs under dining tables (this is the mom in me talking now, rather than the interior designerÑ I donÕt like the idea of cleaning food stains out of rugs on a regular basis) but if you do want a rug, make sure it is large enough to accommodate both the table and the chairs with people sitting in them. A rule of thumb is to add about 36Ó to the length and width of the table. This will give enough room for diners to comfortably move their chairs in and out. China cabinets and buffets should sit on the floor, not the area rug.

A rug under a coffee table looks best if the rug is at least the same length as the sofa. An area rug measuring at least 6Õ x 8Õ or 5Õ x 7Õ is usually a good size in front of a sofa. Larger is usually better, so if you are in doubt, go a size larger than you think you need, rather than smaller.

If your living room chairs are heavy enough (such as a large arm chair or recliner), you can put just the front two chair legs on the rug. If the chair will be wobbly this way, pick a rug large enough for the chairs to be all the way on the rug, or leave the chairs off entirely. Sofas are heavy enough that they can be partially on and off the rug.

I like to put large area rugs under beds. Aim for a rug large enough so you have at least 24-36 inches on each side of your bed, so your feet have a warm landing spot in the morning.

If standard-size rugs are not quite right in your space, remember that almost any wall-to-wall carpet can be cut and bound to create the exact size you need. I do this a lot in my designs. Another option is to use carpet tiles from a company like Flor; each carpet tile square is 19Ó x 19Ó so you can create unique rugs in just about any size you want. (For more information visit

DonÕt forget about safety. Area rugs on top of wall-to-wall carpeting can create a tripping hazard, so make sure you use a rug pad made for this purpose. Look for a rug grip that has adhesive on both sides, which will help stick the rug to the carpet. There are also rug pads made specifically for rugs placed on bare floors. Using a rug pad will protect the floors from scratches, as well as keep the rug in place.

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