In the realm of home decor, there’s a lot to be said for personal preference. While the idea that a room should be an extension of oneself is bandied about as often as design terms like “minimalism” or “timeless”, it doesn’t mean that anything goes. Take the area rug for example; a decor staple that’s so versatile it works in just about any room in the home.
Available in a smorgasbord of sizes, colours, and fabrics, area rugs can absolutely help you achieve the right look, consider some of these hard and fast rules before you buy.
When shopping for an area rug, many dive right into the visual impact it will have on the room, or how it will look with the other room elements. While these are very important considerations — perhaps even the most important — you should definitely consider the size of the rug first.
As a general rule of thumb, leave about 18 inches of exposed floor space around the rug. Leaving less space could make the room feel smaller, while incorporating an undersized rug could make the room appear disjointed and ill conceived.
Different Strokes for Different Rooms
Different rooms also have different considerations when it comes to sizing. For example, when choosing an area rug to use in your dining room, it should be large enough that the dining table and dining chairs, even when pulled out, remain on the material .
In living rooms, on the other hand, you can get away with having some, or even all living room furniture legs off the rug, depending on whether you’re looking to make a bold colour statement - often achieved with a 5’ x 8’ rug - or “pull in” a group of pieces on an expansive 9’ x 12’ rug.
Know the Different Sizes and Styles that are Available
Since there are so many different options available, it’s important to be armed with the right information before you begin the shopping process. While your first step will undoubtedly be taking room measurements, you should be aware of the typical rug sizes that are available:
In addition to these sizes, you should also be well-versed in the most common styles of area rugs you’re likely come across. Depending on the look and feel of the room in question, one of the following styles may fit the bill (once you’ve decided on a particular style, it’d be a good idea to find out which retailer has a good selection to choose from):
No matter what size you choose, make sure that you can easily center it within the room itself and balance it with the other furnishings. Asymmetry is an important pillar of interior design, but it doesn’t translate well to area rug placement. While this may seem like a no brainer, many homeowners fail to properly center their area rugs.
Don’t Steer Clear of Fun Patterns and Colours
Just because an area rug will likely lay at least partially covered doesn’t mean you need to choose an option that lacks in whimsy and playfulness. Look towards bold colours and patterns to give your room a much needed punch. The nice thing about taking a chance on an avant-garde area rug is that you aren’t obligated to keep it around any longer that you want to. There are many stylish and affordable options available and, as far as home furnishings go, area rugs are pretty darn easy to switch out.
Consider Your Lifestyle When Settling on a Fabric
Each fabric comes with its own virtues, but they might not be appropriate for your particular lifestyle. For example, berber carpets are among the easiest indoor fabrics to keep clean. They’re tough and stand up well to foot traffic, children, and pets. Wool is another robust material that bounces back quickly from been soiled.
Polypropylene carpets, while known for their stain resistance qualities, tend to lose their lustre more quickly and aren’t well suited to abrasion (wearing your outdoor shoes throughout your home is a great way to expedite the degradation of synthetic fibers!).
Don’t Forget About Walkways
Narrow hallways are seldom a home’s focal point, but that doesn’t mean that these spaces can’t benefit from the placement of the right area rug. Like any other area rug in any other room, consideration must be given to size as well as palette and material. In hallways, you’ll want to ensure that 8-12 inches of open floor space on either side.
What’s the Difference Between an Indoor and Outdoor Area Rug?
Aside from the fact that outdoor rugs tend to be made exclusively of synthetic material designed to hold up in an outdoor environment, outdoor area rugs are incredibly resistant to moisture, stains, and fading. Because it’s expected they will see more dirt during their lifetime, outdoor rugs tend to require a little bit less elbow grease to keep them clean.
One important distinction between the two is that depending on the room, outdoor rugs can be placed indoors and will do well in high traffic areas like your main entrance; placing an indoor rug outside, however, is not advisable.
As innocuous as they may appear, area rugs play an important if not overlooked role in the style of your home. Fortunately, after consulting this guide, you should now have a better idea of how to broach the complex topic of choosing and using an area rug.