8 Area Rug Do's and Don'ts

Important Rules for Decorating with Area Rugs

Living room with large patterned area rug
Studio McGee

Area rugs are a terrific alternative to wall-to-wall carpet, namely because they're easier to remove and clean. They're also less of a commitment because they're easy to switch if you ever get bored or want to redecorate. But when it comes to using area rugs in your home there are some important rules to remember. Before buying, check out these area rug do's and don't.

DO make sure that area rugs extend under all the key pieces of furniture.

In a living room all of the furniture should be on top. If this simply isn't possible, it's ok to have the front legs of major upholstered pieces on the rug and the back legs off, but all the legs of smaller pieces should be on the rug. In a dining room the rug should be large enough that when the chairs are pulled out from the table they are still on the rug.

DON'T skimp on size. The number one mistake people make when decorating with area rugs is getting ones that are too small.

DO leave the same amount of floor space on all sides of your rug, ideally anywhere from bout 8" to 24". 18" is a common amount, but in a smaller space you can get away with as little as 8". Basically, you want the rug centered in the room.

DON'T go too small in the bedroom. The rug should be large enough to extend beyond the sides of the bed at least 12" for a twin or double bed, and at least 18" for a Queen or King.

You can go bigger, but these numbers should be the approximate minimums.

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DO fully cover heavily trafficked areas. When people are walking they shouldn't have one foot on the rug and one foot off.

DON'T be afraid of color and pattern. Area rugs are a great way to inject playfulness and fun. There are many inexpensive options available so if you decide you don't like it after a couple of years it's easy to change.
 

DO check the cleaning instructions before you buy. Sisal, jute and other natural fiber rugs are inexpensive but they can't be cleaned so you might have to replace them if there's a big spill.

Weigh your budget and your options before buying.


DON'T put an expensive area rug in an area where there are likely to be spills and accidents. Even though they're easier to clean than broadloom, it can still be difficult to remove stains from rugs.

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