Area Rugs: Tips for Selection and Placement
When I am staging a home for sale, area rugs serve many functions in a room:
- Defining the area, for example, a seating or dining area in a large room
- Adding pops of color to an otherwise neutral room
- Toning down a room that has strong and bright colored furniture
- Adding texture to a neutral colored space
When I am doing an interior redesign, in addition to the above, area rugs also:
- Provide comfort underfoot
- Provide physical warmth underfoot
- Absorb the sound in a room
Area rugs come in these common sizes:
- 5′ x 8′
- 6′ x 9′
- 8′ x 10′, 8′ x 11′
- 9′ x 12′
- 12′ x 15′
Here are some tips when buying an area rug:
- If you anticipate lots of traffic and wear and tear, select a patterned rug which will show stains less than a solid rug.
- Also, a wool rug is easier to clean than a non-wool rug.
- The shape of the rug should mirror the furniture or the room size. For example, a rectangular dining table should have a rectangular rug underneath. But a round dining table should have a round rug under it.
- In a very large room, you can have multiple area rugs, but make sure they complement and coordinate with each other. They don’t have to be identical, and ideally, we wouldn’t want them to be.
- The area rug should take up 2/3 to 3/4 of the floor space of an area with no furniture on the rug, for example, the foyer pictured below. Otherwise the rug will look lost. However, a small rug right in front of the entry door would be acceptable.
- Don’t cover the entire floor with an area rug – leave 9 to 12 inches of the floor around the edges of the rug exposed.
- While some designers feel that area rugs on a carpet are a no-no, others say it’s okay to do so.
- I prefer to start with the color of the sofa before choosing a rug to complement it. Others start with the rug first, and then choose the sofa.
- Don’t use busy rugs with large patterns with a sofa or bedding that has large patterns.
- Use non-skid pads when needed to prevent slips and accidents. The pad should be a few inches smaller than the rug.
- There’s always been a debate about furniture on and off the rug, but here is some guidance:
- At least the front legs of the furniture should be on the rug
- All of the furniture’s legs should be on the rug, ideally, if the rug is large enough.
- Avoid placing the rug so that the traffic pattern would have people walking with one foot on the rug and the other foot on the bare floor. And avoid placing the corner of a rug in front of a door as people may trip.
- In a dining room, make sure that the rug is large enough that, when a person is backing out of their chair, the back legs of the chair are still on the rug. You can use 24 inches from the edge of the table to the edge of the rug as a guide.
- Be aware that in rooms with direct sunlight and hardwood floors, the area rug will create an outline when the floor color changes as a result of the sunlight. Also, sunlight can fade a rug, particularly oriental rugs.
- Also be aware of electrical outlets and vents in floors as well as the placement of rugs near doors which may not clear the rug.
- In a bedroom, at least two sides of the bed should have the same amount of rug showing.
If you have any other tips about the purchase, placement or care of area rugs, please share them.
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