Area rugs can bring personality into living rooms, and they are often more beneficial and versatile than wall-to-wall carpeting for many reasons:
- An area rug lets you showcase the beauty of your hardwood floors while keeping some softness underfoot.
- An area rug or two can help you define different spaces in your living room.
- An area rug is easier to remove for cleaning and maintenance.
- You can bring an area rug with you to your next home.
- You can relocate an area rug to another room within your home.
- Depending on the type of area rug, it can be more affordable than broadloom.
However, if you're going to choose an area rug or two in your living room, there are a few things about sizing, colors, and patterns that you need to keep in mind. The key is to have an area rug that is well-proportioned to the size of the room and harmonizes with the decor. Choosing the wrong area rug may make your living room look unfinished or filled with awkward contrasting colors and patterns. Here are tips on how to choose the best area rug for your living space.
Area Rug Size
Avoid choosing an area rug that is too small when decorating your living room. Area rugs come in the following standard sizes:
- 6 x 9 feet
- 8 x 10 feet
- 9 x 12 feet
- 10 x 14 feet
Of course you can always order a custom size for your living room if necessary. Whatever size you choose, the rule of thumb for area rug placement in a living room is this: There should be approximately 4 to 8 inches of bare floor bordering each side of an area rug. In addition, all the legs of your furniture should sit on the area rug. If this isn't possible, it's okay to have the front legs of major upholstered pieces on the rug and the back legs off. When the legs of sofas, chairs, and tables are not fully placed on an area rug, the room can look unfinished or unbalanced to the eye.
Color and Pattern
Flooring has a huge impact on the overall look of a living room. It helps to think about the following tips when choosing an area rug:
- Choosing a patterned area rug can be the perfect way to add color and interest to a room with neutral furniture and walls.
- A patterned area rug in a darker color can hide dirt and spills better than a solid area rug in a lighter color.
- A solid-colored area rug in a neutral color can blend in well with an eclectic room without taking away from the colorful and textured decor.
- For a vivid and colorful room, pull one or two colors from your decor and use them when choosing an area rug so the hues don't clash or fight with one another to create a visually cluttered space.
Material and Texture
Think about how you want the rug to feel underfoot and how much maintenance you're willing to put into your area rug. For example, you can find beautiful silk or leather area rugs for a luxurious look and feel, but they could prove tough to clean. Here are common materials and textures you'll find when looking for area rugs:
- Wool: A natural fiber, a wool area rug adds warmth and softness to the look and feel of a room. Wool can be stain-resistant, and the fiber is durable and resilient (bounces back after compression). A wool area rug can be pricey and needs professional cleaning.
- Sisal and jute: Natural materials, such as sisal or jute, are made from durable plant fibers that can be smooth and cool on the feet. (Sisal might be more durable but jute is softer on the feet.) Oftentimes, natural fiber area rugs are neutral in color though many are dyed with an overlay of pattern. Natural fibers need spot cleaning with minimal water.
- Cotton: Many flat woven area rugs are made from cotton, which gives a living room a soft and casual vibe. Cotton area rugs have a lighter feel and texture, making them ideal for summer living, and they can be washed in a machine, depending on the size.
- Synthetics (nylon and polyester): Nylon and polyester area rugs have very similar characteristics. A nylon area rug is more durable than polyester. But both come in all types of patterns, colors, they resist fading, staining, and both fibers are easy to clean and maintain.
- Viscose: This synthetic fiber, also known as rayon, can be manufactured to have the luster, look, and of silk or wool. It sounds perfect, and it's definitely affordable, but the fiber isn't as durable or stain-resistant as you might like for a living room with heavy traffic.
- Acrylic: If you choose a faux fur area rug or a synthetic hide, chances are it's made from acrylic fibers. For example, a faux sheepskin area rug may be a blend of acrylic and polyester. Acrylic is washable though faux fur rugs may need to be hand-washed, and it's also easy on the budget.
- Hides: You've likely seen pricey genuine cowhide area rugs that can make a statement in a living room. Hides are one of the more durable area rugs you can buy. They also resist mold, dust, and don't require high maintenance or many deep cleanings over the typically long life of a cowhide area rug.
Add interest or define your space even more by layering area rugs one on top of another. You can also layer an area rug on top of wall-to-wall carpet. Layering is a trick used in eclectic and boho decor to bring in more color and pattern. Use a seasonal area rug as a top layer over your main area rug so it's easy to change. For example, if you have a large sisal or jute area rug, layer it with a thick, fluffy faux fur area rug in the colder months. In warmer months, switch out the fur and layer a flatweave over the larger natural fiber rug to create a lighter look that's cooler on your feet.