How To Decorate with Rugs

Rugs have been a staple throughout millennia. They’re used for practical reasons, such as coverage for heavy traffic areas and cold hardwood or tile floors, but they’re also used as signature pieces or decor enhancements. There’s a rug for every decorating style. All you need to do is find the one that fits yours.

Start with the Rug

If you’re decorating a new house (or giving your home a makeover) and you want to incorporate a signature rug, start with the rug. It’s how professional designers do it. If you wait to get the rug until after you’ve painted and decorated the walls, put up the curtains, bought the furniture, and selected patterned throw pillows, it’s going to be difficult to find a signature rug that ties it all together. It’s much easier to select the rug first and then design the rest of the room around it.

Choose the Right Shape and Size

It’s important to make sure that the rug corresponds with the furniture and room shapes—a round rug for a round table, a rectangular rug for a rectangular table or room, a round or hexagonal rug for a square table, a square or rectangular rug for a living room grouping, and so on. Ideally, all edges of an area rug should be at least 18 inches from the wall. For a dining room, the rug should be at least two feet larger than the table so that the back legs of the chairs can stay on the rug. In a bedroom, you can opt to have the entire bed and flanking nightstands, or just half of the bed, on a large area rug. Ideally, there should be enough rug around the bed to provide a soft landing space for your feet and show off some of the rug.

Place the Furniture Correctly

Designers often recommend placing the front two legs of a chair or sofa on a rug. However, if you’re using the rug to set off a certain area of the room, you can place the entire seating arrangement on it (with all furniture legs on the rug). You can also opt for a small rug in the center of your furniture. In this case, you will want to select a rug that is a similar length as your couch and keep all of your furniture close to the rug. Just make sure the room doesn’t look unbalanced or cluttered.

Use a Rug Pad

Rugs can slip and slide, and rug tape can ruin the floor below it. So invest in a solid rug pad to stabilize your area rug and prevent accidents. Your husband, kids, and pets will appreciate the foresight.

Dress Up a Dull Room

Normally, we think of rugs covering hardwood, tile, or laminate floors, but rugs can also be used to dress up carpets and create layers on top of larger rugs. This is a great trick when you want to save a little on that expensive Persian rug (smaller sizes cost less) or when you don’t want to commit to strong patterns or bold colors on your walls or floors, but you still want color and personality in the room.

Get a Bargain

Shop sites like eBay, Etsy, Overstock, and RugsUSA to find incredible deals on rugs and interesting patterns and designs in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Flea markets and thrift stores are also great places to spot unique and interesting bargain rugs. And of course, there are department stores like Target and Ross that offer some delightful rug options.

Keep It Clean

Rugs are not only a great decorating piece, but it’s important to keep them clean too. A noticeably dirty rug ruins its effect. Throughout the year, you can vacuum most rugs to remove dirt and spot-clean noticeable stains. Some rugs (smaller ones) can even be thrown in the washer. For larger rugs, an annual professional rug cleaning will do the trick.

Rugs are versatile decorating pieces, and every home should have a few of them. They make it easy to create warmth, personality, unity in a room, or even a conversation piece.