Tips for Using Area Rugs Over Carpet

area rug used over a carpet

The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi

Is it okay to put an area rug on carpet? According to designers, this is totally feasible. The key is to ensure that you pay close attention to factors such as rug material and size and purchase a rug pad to go with your accent rug. Here are a few key tips to consider to properly lay a rug over carpet.

Can You Put an Area Rug on Carpet?

Rugs can be layered on carpet to achieve a number of results in a short span of time.

"If the carpet is low profile and needs a pop of color or texture, a layered rug can be a great option, as long as it doesn't create a tripping hazard," explains Nadia Watts, the founder of Nadia Watts Interior Design.

Adding a rug to carpet is an excellent way to infuse more personality into a space such as a rental property with builder grade carpet that cannot be removed or to achieve the feeling of an upgrade without spending much money. Plus, a layered look is also comforting and peaceful.

"Rugs can instantly bring an eclectic and cozy style to your space," Watts adds.

Additionally, laying down a rug may help extend the life of the carpet underneath it and hide unsightly marks or stains, Watts says.


If your carpeting has unsightly stains, covering it with an area rug is a simple, budget-friendly solution, Watts says.

The rules for choosing an area rug to use over broadloom pertain to thickness in particular.

"Hides, kilims, and dhurries all look great layered on carpet because of their low profile," Watts says. "You don't want to layer a rug on carpet that is too thick or textured; try to stick with natural materials and lower profiles," she advises.

Trisha Knight, the co-founder of design firm Knight Varga agrees. Varga says that the bottom carpet should always be heavier in weight and texture than the rug placed on top of it.

"The top rug becomes a feature framed by the bottom rug," she explains. "We will often do this with a natural woven rug on the bottom and a light vintage inspired rug or natural shag on top."

On this note, you will also want to avoid mixing patterns when layering rugs. Ideally, Knight says, your top rug is patterned and your carpet is solid in color.

What Is Broadloom?

Broadloom refers to woven, wall-to-wall carpeting, which is commonly seen in bedrooms, living rooms, and basements.

Size Matters

It's important to ensure that the size of rug you select complements the scale of the room you are designing. Rugs that are too small will look awkward and out of place. A common piece of guidance when styling around area rugs is that four—if not two—legs of a main piece of furniture should touch the rug.

It is also advisable to keep floor space (in this case, carpet space) between six and 24 inches open around the sides of the area rug. Keep in mind that even if the room you're decorating is on the smaller side, you will still want to use an appropriately sized rug for the space. In fact, a rug that's on the more expansive side can even work to your advantage.

"A large area rug will make a room feel bigger," Knight says.

rug layered over carpet in bedroom

Nadia Watts Interior Design

Anchor the Rug

Why is anchoring a rug so key? A concern with laying a rug over carpet is that it will have a tendency to shift if not anchored in place. A properly anchored rug can prevent unwanted ripples and tripping. One way to anchor a rug in a space is to use furniture as your guide, such as by placing it under a bed or sofa. Watts also advises using a rug pad when placing an area rug over carpet, just as one would when working with a hardwood floor.

"Rugs will add friction to your flooring—no matter what's underneath—so use a pad to protect and prolong the life of the carpet," Watts says.

patterned rug layered over carpet in bedroom

Amy Leferink at Interior Impressions

Rugs Over Carpet: A Yes, If You Wish

Designers say that rugs can certainly be layered over carpet if they are low profile and properly sized in relation to the room in question. Ultimately, though, it is your decision whether to place a rug over carpet in your own home. If you don't appreciate the look, by no means do you have to engage in layering. Your space should reflect your personal style and design choices.

  • Is it weird to put a rug pad on carpet?

    No. Designers advise placing a rug pad beneath an area rug no matter what surface it sits on.

  • Do you need a rug pad on carpet?

    Yes. Designers advise purchasing a rug pad to place beneath an area rug that sits on carpet.

  • How can I cover my carpet without removing it?

    Placing an area rug over carpet is a simple, affordable way to camouflage wall-to-wall carpeting that does not appeal to your personal style or is in less than ideal condition.

  • Can you put an accent rug on carpet?

    Yes. Designers say that this is feasible as long as you select a low-profile rug to layer over your carpeting.