5 Tips for Layering Area Rugs

A blue patterned rug layered on top of a hemp jute rug

The Spruce / Jason Donnelly

Rugs are a wonderful addition to rooms, and there are so many options. Area rugs can set the tone for an entire space and make or break a room. You can go from neutral to colorful or solids to patterns. And another trend—layering rugs. Layering is a great way to go, and it's not as tough as it seems.

Layering rugs is a great way to have fun with color, pattern, and texture. There are tons of ways to make this look work in your home, and it can solve a whole host of decorating problems. You can layer an area rug on top of wall-to-wall carpet or layer it over another existing area rug. Here are some ways to make this decorating technique work for you.

Define a Space

If you have a large seating area and have a problem with "floating furniture," layering rugs can help. Area rug rules state that there should be approximately 10 to 20 inches of bare floor between the edges of the area rug and the walls of the room and that all the pieces of furniture should be sitting on the rug, but if this composition isn't quite working for your space, and everything feels a little too big and spaced out, layering a smaller rug in the center of the room can help ground the area and give it definition. 

Rugs also allow you to play with the lines and angles of the room and draw the eye where you want it. You can angle a top rug on the bias or at a 45- to a 90-degree angle. Your larger base rug should be put down straight, aligned with the furniture. You can then take your smaller accent rug and change its orientation. Experiment with it and see if you like the look. Usually, putting the rug on a bias will call attention to the rug—so, think if this is your intention or you'd instead prefer that the eye focus elsewhere.


Layering rugs work best when your two rugs are two different sizes. One should be large and more dominant, and the others should be smaller and act as an accent. For example, a 9-inch by 12-inch rug would look great with a 6-inch by 9-inch rug layered on top. An easy rule of thumb: Make sure the top rug is at least 2/3 the size of the rug underneath.

Highlight an Area

Layering a small rug on top of a larger one can direct the eye to that specific area. So if you have a coffee table, bench, chest, or some other type of special piece you want to be highlighted, layering a rug is an excellent way to do it. It's also great for doing the opposite—drawing your attention away from an area. If you've got a piece of furniture or architectural element you want to mask, a small rug in another part of the room can pull the eye away from it. 

Area rug being used to highlight the coffee table area

The Spruce / Jason Donnelly

Consider Color

The main reason people like to layer rugs is that it gives them an opportunity to experiment with color. Some people find a colored carpet covering their entire floor to be too much, so layering allows for a neutral base with a smaller pop of color. For other people, a single rug doesn't offer enough color. Fortunately, there's no reason why you can't layer color on color. The key is to find colors that complement each other and the rest of the items in the room. Layer away to your heart's content.

A colorful patterned rug layered on top of a neutral rug

The Spruce / Jason Donnelly

Play With Pattern

Layering patterned rugs on top of each other is a little trickier than layering a patterned rug on a solid rug, but it's possible. When experimenting with this look try to use colors that are of the same intensity. For instance, don’t mix pastels with jewel tones.

Different patterns can often work together if in the same hue family. Also, think about tone-on-tone patterns. They can give a room depth and character without coming across as too bold. Ultimately when layering patterns, it's best to trust your eye and go with your gut. If you like the way it looks, then go with it.

Experiment With Texture

You don't need to use multiple colors and patterns to make this look work for your home—layering rugs that are different textures on top of each other is a fabulous way to add depth to a room. Consider a cowhide rug on top of a sisal rug, or a sheepskin on top of a jute rug, or anything soft on top of a flat weave—add interest in a more subtle but equally effective way.

A cowhide rug layered on top of a hemp jute rug

The Spruce / Jason Donnelly