Established 1997
 

Help and Advice Centre

Area Rugs: How to choose and place an area rug

Finding the perfect finishing touches for your home can be tricky, but you can never go wrong with a lovely area rug. These are ideal for defining specific zones, framing your furniture and adding a pop of colour to any room in your home.

To help you choose an area rug that is suitable for the rooms in your home, we’ll be sharing some of our top tips and tricks for picking and placing area rugs, as well as finding a style that suits your décor. We’ll cover:

  • What is an area rug?
  • What size area rug should you pick?
  • How to choose an area rug colour
  • What material should you go for?
  • Area rug inspiration:
  • Hallway
  • Living room
  • Kitchen
  • Bedroom 

What is an area rug?

An area rug is used as a functional piece in many homes, splitting the room or area up into different zones and grouping furniture together to define a space. They are commonly used in open-plan living areas to add definition to the room and clearly show the separate purposes of these zones. If you’re using one in your kitchen or living room, an area rug can also be used to secure your tables, chairs and sofas from slipping on wooden floors, especially if you use rug underlay to secure it.

As well as having a functional purpose, area rugs can also help to add beautiful decorative elements to your home. There are many styles of area rug available to purchase, so you can shop according to your existing décor, whether this means searching for an eye-catching design that’ll make a statement against neutral interiors, or vice versa.

These types of rug are incredibly popular in-home interiors as they tend to be a cheaper and more flexible alternative to wall-to-wall carpeting while still covering a large proportion of floor space. Plus, if you’ve got hard wood floors or tiling, area rugs can add warmth and a soft underfoot feel to your home.

What size area rug should you pick?

Before going shopping, you’ll need to consider what function you want your area rug to serve. If you want to add warmth, selecting a size that covers most of your floor will be best, and you’ll probably want to go for a large or extra-large area rug. If you want it to emphasise your furniture, you’ll need to make sure that your area rug is large enough to frame it. However, if your reason for getting an area rug is solely to add detail and decoration to your rooms, you can be a little more flexible in the size that you choose as it won’t necessarily need to be functional.

The standard sizes of area rugs can vary between manufacturers, but generally will follow similar guidelines to ours here at Rugs Direct. If you’re looking for more inspiration on sizes when working out how to place an area rug, check out our rug size guide.

How to choose an area rug colour

Once you’ve selected the size of area rug you think you’ll need for your space, choosing the right colour should be next on your priority list. There are so many different designs available, including solid and patterned styles, so think which is most suited to the space you’re going to be decorating.

To simplify the selection process, it’s worth asking yourself the following questions:

What do you want your area rug to add to the room?

Area rugs can be used to either make a statement or to provide some cohesion with the other accents in your room. For example, a grey area rug can complement neutral décor while an abstract-patterned one can be used as an eye-catching addition to your home.

Which part of your home is the area rug going in?

You’ll need to think carefully when choosing an area rug for a high traffic part of your home. For example, a cream rug might not be the best choice in a busy hallway so, you’ll need to be realistic about what colours are appropriate for certain areas. It may be a better idea to substitute lighter colours for darker shades in zones with a lot of foot traffic.

What type of flooring will you be placing your area on?

Area rugs work well on both carpet and wooden floors but, you can generally be more flexible if you’re working with the latter. This is because the natural tone of wood makes it easy to pair with other colours, and the same goes for stone flooring, too.

You can still place your area rug on carpet, but you’ll have to be careful not to create too many contrasts as this can make your décor look cluttered and disjointed. Additionally, it’s important to vary the texture when layering carpets. For example, area rugs work best over short-pile or looped carpets as there will be firm support between them. Avoid using area rugs on long-pile or shaggy carpets as these don’t have the correct support and may also look overwhelming.

What atmosphere do you want the room to have?

You can think about this in several ways, including whether you want the room to feel modern or rustic and traditional. Before picking a shade, it will help to pay attention to how that particular tone makes you feel and also what colour psychology says about it. For example, deep, rich colours can create an intimate space, whereas cool colours are good for creating a calm ambience in rooms with lots of natural light.

What material should you go for?

There are many different types of fibres you can choose from for your area rug. Here, we’ll go over the pros and cons of each material

Fibre

Properties & Suitability

Acrylic

  • Hard-wearing and easy to clean, which is perfect for high traffic areas when selected in darker colours.
  • It mimics the look of wool with less shedding, and so is easier to care for.

Polypropylene

  • Hard-wearing and easy to care for and clean. Good for high traffic areas.
  • It’s a synthetic material, which are generally less soft than natural fibres, but you can buy super soft versions.

Viscose

  • Not particularly hard-wearing so isn’t very good for high traffic zones.
  • There are options to buy it mixed with wool for a sheen effect which is attractive so will look lovely in bedrooms where the footfall is lower.

Wool

  • Easy-clean and heat resistant so is brilliant to use near your fireplace in the lounge.
  • Wool rugs also have a luxuriously soft feel. They work especially well when placed underneath your bed, so your feet can be warm first thing in the morning.

Jute

  • Durable and suitable for high-traffic areas, despite being a natural fibre.
  • Easy to clean and has heat insulating properties which make it suitable for any room with wooden floors or big spaces that need a touch of warmth.

Sisal

  • Strong natural fibres, so is an incredibly hardwearing option.
  • The material must not get wet as it can stain or ruin the fibres, meaning sisal rugs can be tricky to clean.
  • More coarse feeling than other natural fibres, so is better suited to high traffic areas for decorative purposes than for comfort or warmth.

As well as looking into their properties, it’ll also be important to think about the following questions:

  • How long do you plan on having the rug for? If you’ve recently refurbished the space and are planning to add an area rug as a decorative element, you’re bound to want to pick a high-quality one that’ll last you till your next home makeover. However, if you’re frequently switching up your interiors, going for synthetic fibres like acrylic may be a better choice as they still look great but are a cheaper option.
  • What is your budget? Rug materials can differ in price with natural fibres typically being more expensive due to their quality and durability. If you’re just buying an area rug to create an attractive-looking floor space, synthetic options or less pricey natural fibres such as sisal and jute may be better suited to you. Alternatively, if you’re willing to invest in a super soft luxury area rug and can afford to spend a bit more, you should choose a natural option like wool.  

Area rug inspiration

An area rug can add extra detail to whatever part of your home you wish but, as each of your rooms has a different purpose, it’s important to think carefully about this. Whether you’re trying to find the perfect living room area rug, or one for your kitchen, we have tips to show you how to choose an area rug for any part of your home.

Hallway

The hallway is the first thing your guests will see when they enter your home, so adding an area rug can really help to make a great impression on your visitors. When selecting an area rug for your hallway, it’s best to choose an extra-large area rug that’s big enough to cover a majority of the floor but still allows parts of it to be seen on either side of the rug. So, before you set out to find the perfect design, make sure you measure your hallway’s length and width, so you have an idea of the space you’ve got to work with.

As your hallway is the main traffic point of your home, the rug you choose needs to be made from a durable material which will be able to handle plenty of footfall and is easy to clean — we have plenty of quality wool rugs that’ll be perfect for your busy hallway. Lighter colours will visibly gather dirt, dust and debris, so it’s wise to go with a darker patterned rug to help mask any of these stains or marks until you can get round to cleaning them.

Many people choose to keep their hallways relatively plain so, if this is the case for you, try adding a bolder rug to give your space some character — we stock a range of hallway runners in a selection of statement colours, so you can get inventive with your hallway decor. This will look great especially if the pattern has colours in it that match other decorative elements around your hall space. If you want to keep your hallway relatively simple, consider bringing in a neutral-coloured long pile area rug to add instant feelings of warmth and comfort to your home.

Living Room Area Rugs

Your living room is the most sociable area in your home so it’s important that the décor is inviting to guests. It’s also necessary that you think about your lifestyle and what the exact purpose of the room is for to determine how to choose the perfect living room area rug.  For example, if you’ll be frequently entertaining in your lounge, choosing a large area rug for your living room that won’t be easily spoiled by spilt drinks or food stains is a must. Alternatively, if you have a lounge you only use for special occasions, you can afford to invest in something a little lighter in colour and plainer such as ivory, beige and grey.  

If you have lots of furniture in your living room, it might be best to avoid adding a very busy patterned living room area rug as this can make your space look overcrowded. Instead, opt for a plain or nearly plain rug to keep the main focus of the room on your beautiful sofas and armchairs. One great tip to ensure your rug fits seamlessly into the space is to have the front two legs of all pieces of furniture resting on the edge of the rug — just make sure large pieces of furniture like your sofa are shorter than the rug for this method to work.

Kitchen Area Rugs

Most people have laminate or tiles in their kitchen for an easy-clean option. And, while these are practical given the purpose of the space, it can sometimes mean the flooring is particularly cold underfoot, so adding a kitchen area rug can lend this space some warmth and comfort.

As your kitchen area rug will likely be subject to plenty of footfall from all members of your family, it’ll need to be durable. We recommend giving your kitchen a homely feel with a soft natural fibre rug underneath your dining table to keep your feet toasty warm while you tuck into your dinner. Just make sure that this is longer and wider than your dining table — you can learn more about this in our rug size guide. Typically, it’s wise to go with short pile rugs for kitchen areas as food crumbs are less likely to get stuck into the fibres, and it will be easier to clean.

When it comes to selecting a design, make sure you’re sticking with the same theme as the rest of your décor. For example, if you have a classic wooden kitchen, a traditional rug, such as a folk area rug, will slot seamlessly into the space. However, for more modern kitchens, matching your kitchen area rug to coloured integrated cabinetry will ensure you achieve a perfectly put-together interior look. We have plenty of modern rugs available so you’re sure to find one to complete your contemporary kitchen.

Bedroom Area Rugs

Comfort is key in your bedroom so create a cosy environment by laying down a bedroom area rug. Not only will this add warmth and comfort to your room, but it’ll also give you the opportunity for another decorative element.

One of the most popular ways to incorporate an area rug into your bedroom is to place the area rug under your bed. The style of area rug you choose is completely up to you and can depend on the vibe your room has, whether that means you pick a funky, plain or modern rug to complement it. In all cases, your rug should extend further than the bed: this will ensure you make a big visual impact. Plus, the more floor space it covers, the cosier your room will feel.

If your bedroom is big then you could even put a rug on both sides of the bed for a more classic and symmetrical look. But, be aware that you should leave at least five inches of your floor showing between the edge of the rug and your bed so that the space doesn’t look overcrowded.

You could even place a large area rug at the foot of your bed for an instant style boost. Just remember that if you have an ottoman at the end of your bed, the rug should be placed underneath the ottoman and extend further both in length and width.

In terms of design, we recommend opting for a bright funky rug to add a statement piece to your room or going with a muted tone flat weave rug for a more versatile aesthetic. If you have hardwood floors, layering a fluffy shaggy rug will add a luxurious touch and also keep your feet warm when you get out of bed in the morning — and with so many shaggy rug colours available, such as purple, red and multicoloured, there’s something to complement even the boldest of bedrooms. We have plenty of other rug shapes to choose from, including half-moon, square and round area rugs, so there will be something to suit your own personal space.

Whatever area rug you go for, here at Rugs Direct, we are sure to have plenty of affordable options for you. We are so confident in our great prices that we offer a price promise that ensures you’re refunded the difference if you find the same rug sold online for less! And, with free standard delivery available to the UK mainland, you’ll have your dream area rug in your home in no time.

For more rug inspiration or rug cleaning and care information, don’t forget to check out our help and advice centre. If you have any specific questions about our rugs, don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0330 113 4909 or send us an email at customerservice@rugsdirect.co.uk.