When buying area rugs, it’s tempting to jump into looking at colors and styles. But … by taking the time to consider the practical issues, you can find just the right area rugs for your lifestyle and home requirements. Before you get into design choices, it pays to consider factors such as size, materials and price point.
Size Matters When Buying Area Rugs
The size rug you choose will vary depending upon its location and use. Here are some recommendations:
- Dining rooms – To determine the minimum size for a dining room rug, measure your dining table and select a rug at least four feet longer and wider than your dining table, so there are two feet extra per side. This ensures that people can push their chairs back without sliding off the rug.
- Living room – A smaller rug can sit at the front of the sofa and chairs, positioned under the coffee table. This choice adds color and personality while providing a nice cushioned place for you and your guests to rest their feet. If your goal is to create an island of warmth using color or texture, you may want a rug large enough that the entire conversation grouping will fit on it. Try to avoid using a size that places your furniture half off and half on the rug.
- Bedrooms – Rug sizes in bedrooms can be more flexible, ranging from small enough for your feet when getting out of bed … to a full-room rug that reaches almost to the walls. Mid-sized rugs work well on a diagonal, with one corner projecting to the side and the other at the foot of the bed.
- General – For larger rugs in any room, you want to leave six to seven inches between the edge of the rug and the baseboards, so the rug feels in proportion with the room.
There is no one best material when buying area rugs. Instead, consider the needs of your space and lifestyle to choose the rug material that will work best in your home. Here are some factors to keep in mind when investigating rug options.
- Traffic level: The rug in your bedroom that is only walked on by you in socks or bare feet can be more delicate than the one in your family room that everyone walks across to get to the kitchen. The first one can be made of something like silk with its gentle sheen and soft feel underfoot. Wool or nylon are better choices for rugs with a lot of feet hitting them every day.
- Water and stain resistance: Will the rug sit under your dining table or a room that involves a lot of snacking? Do you have one or more pets? If you answer yes, stain resistance becomes an important goal. Wool and Nylon can handle this kind of abuse and still look great. Many of the natural fiber rugs such as sisal and jute can't recover from stains. And while wool is great in a stain-prone environment, it will absorb and hold water in a damp area.
- Long-term durability: Most of the hand-knotted Oriental or Turkish rugs will hold up for generations. If you want a rug that will become an heirloom, consider wool. If your goal is a nice rug for a few years or one that temporarily brings in a trendy color, nylon or cotton are good choices.
- Nice bare-foot feel: Wool, cotton and silk are good material choices for this goal. Avoid the natural fibers except seagrass. They are too rough for bare feet.
- Customization of color and pattern: Many wool rug manufacturers can produce rugs to your specific color requirements in a variety of patterns and styles. There can be literally hundreds of color choices. If you plan on buying an area rug in an unusual combination of colors, this can be a great option. Of course this kind of rug is costly. With a little effort, you can probably find a ready-made rug that meets your color and style goals.
- Cost: What kind of budget do you have for your rug purchase? If it is limited, consider nylon and cotton, which give you many types of attractive rugs at a reasonable price.
- CAUTION: Be wary of inexpensive wool rugs. Often these imports are backed in a fabric that is glued with a latex-based product that develops a strong smell once damp. And this smell will not dissipate over time. Check the back of any rug you’re considering and if it has a woven backing, walk away.
Determine Your Goals When Buying Area Rugs
You might want to consider issues other than your pocketbook when deciding how much to spend on a particular area rug. Here are some factors to help you calculate the right price for you.
- Is this rug a temporary solution or an investment? If you plan to replace it in a few years, then spend no more than you need to for the basic look you want.
- Are you going to change the flooring? A rug that looks great on cream-colored tile may not be the right choice at all on the dark wood flooring you plan to install in the future. Wait for your final flooring choice before buying an investment rug.
- Will the rug be a focal point or a background element? You’re going to want to spend a bit more to find the right rug to draw the eye in a room. One that will serve as a background player can be more basic.
- What is your overall furniture budget for the room? Comfortable, stylish and durable seating should be front-and-center in your budget. You may find that you're better off buying an area rug later if your budget needs the delay.
Once you answer these questions, you will be well on your way to selecting an area rug that meets your needs. For more information on rug materials, care and the advantages rugs provide in your home, check out the Carpet and Rug Institute. You may also enjoy reading our blog, “Falling in Love with Geometric Rugs.”
Photo credit: Feizy Rugs