5 Ways You're Shopping for Rugs All Wrong, According to Experts

jessica nelson design

Jessica Nelson Design

Rugs add so much warmth, character, and comfort to every room of the home. The right rug can truly transform a space and remain a fixture for many years if selected properly. As designer Danielle Chiprut notes, "There are few pieces in a home that have the power to tie a room together quite like a rug. Rugs make a room feel warm, inviting, and can really set the tone for the space. They also help define zones throughout your home."

However, while shopping for a rug is just as common as selecting a sheet set or picking out a pair of curtains, there are a handful of key elements to keep in mind before making a purchase. We spoke with five designers who weighed in on the main mistakes that consumers make when rug shopping so that you can avoid such errors.

Meet the Expert

1. Not Weighing Cost Versus Quality

Rugs can truly run anywhere from $25 and $25,000, making any search an expansive one. "Budget is always such a huge deciding factor when it comes to rugs, because prices can vary tremendously," designer Madison Lussier explains. However, she notes, being hesitant to invest a little more up front may end up costing consumers more down the line. "That less expensive rug made out of viscose will not be looking so good in a year, compared to that hand-knotted wool rug that you may never need to replace!" So don't be afraid to splurge a responsible amount if it means that the piece you choose will stand the test of time.

rugs layered in living room

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2. Forgetting to Purchase a Rug Pad

Yes, it's one more item to add to your shopping list, but a rug pad is a critical buy indeed, designer Jennifer Ma states. "Purchasing a rug pad may seem like an unnecessary luxury; however, it makes a world of difference on the comfort and the way the rug feels when stepped on," she explains. And the decision to incorporate one into your space is about more than just making your feet nice and happy, Ma adds. "Not only do rug pads provide additional comfort but they prevent slippage, too."

colorful rug under dining room table

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3. Underestimating Size

Bigger equals better when it comes to rugs. After all, a room where the rug is too small or positioned improperly makes the whole design just looks a bit off. "The biggest mistake people make when purchasing rugs is to buy something too small for the space," designer Michelle Gage explains. There's no need to wing it on measurements when you can do some key research ahead of time. "There are plenty of guides on the web to show you the best scale," Gage notes. And while pricing can increase significantly with each size increment, you'll thank yourself later if you just go for the option that will make your room look the best. As Gage puts it, "Don’t skimp out by buying something smaller just to save a few bucks." Even the prettiest of pieces won't be a saving grace if they aren't the right size. "A rug that is too tiny will make your space feel off balance and even the most beautiful rug will become an eyesore," Chiprut adds.

large white rug in living room

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4. Not Considering Your Lifestyle

Your family's lifestyle—and the amount of use a rug will see—should influence your purchasing decisions, designer Kelsey Haywood notes. If you're outfitting a high-traffic area, Haywood suggests avoiding any rug made from viscose. "It’s far too delicate of a fiber," she comments. "Try instead 100 percent wool, nylon, or another synthetic fiber."

rug under dining table

@home.and.spirit / Instagram

5. Not Buying a Rug Soon Enough

Buying a rug early on in a project rather than further down the line is of the utmost importance, designer Julia Miller says. "One common mistake is underestimating the impact of the rug and waiting to choose it," she notes. "We often choose rugs first and use them for the foundation of building a space. They offer so much texture and color. In all our projects, we always start thinking about the rug first!"