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How To Find The Best Area Rug For Your Home

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How To Find The Best Area Rug For Your Home

An area rug not only adds color and style, it also muffles sound; provides a soft, comfortable surface for kids to play on; covers slippery hard flooring; and adds extra insulation to a room. You might only think to lay area rugs over hard flooring like wood, tile or stone, but even if your room has carpet, a rug balances the décor with pattern and texture.

How Big Of A Rug Do You Need?

One of the most common decorating mistakes is using an area rug that is too small for its space.

Whole Room: If you are buying a large area rug to cover most of the floor surface in a room, choose a rug sized to leave 12 to 18 inches of bare flooring showing between the walls and the rug.

Dining Area: Your rug should be large enough so the entire table and all chairs rest on top of it, with at least 24 inches of rug extending from the table’s edge on all sides. This allows a diner to push their chair back comfortably without being half on the rug, half on the floor.

Living Room: You can use a rug large enough to cover most of the floor, or use smaller rugs to accentuate seating areas. If defining a seating area, any chair small enough to be easily moved should be entirely on the rug, as well as the coffee table or nearby side table. The rug doesn’t have to extend all the way under the couch, but should at least reach beyond the couch’s front feet. Your rug should anchor the seating area, not leave furniture drifting half on, half off the rug. Living room rugs can be square, rectangular, oval or even round, depending on the size of the room and configuration of the furniture.

Bedroom: If your rug is going all the way under your bed, it should be large enough to extend 12 to 18 inches out on either side. Or, use smaller rugs at the foot of the bed and on each side.

Runner: If you have a long hallway, a runner softens the appearance and prevents a subway or tunnel feeling. Your runner should leave at least 3 inches of floor showing on each side and be at least a foot shorter than the head and foot of the hall.

What Material Should You Choose?

Rugs can be made out of a wide variety of materials.

  • Wool: Wool is strong, soft and durable, and the most common material for quality area rugs. However, wool is prone to shedding  and can fade.
  • Cotton: Cotton is easy to clean, holds color well and is very soft. On the other hand, it’s not durable as wool.
  • Natural Fiber: Jute and sisal are common grass fibers used to make rugs. Both have a natural, casual beauty and are strong and durable. At the same time, both stain easily and are not easy to vacuum clean.
  • Nylon And Synthetics: Synthetic rugs generally cost less than natural fibers and can be very durable, stain-resistant and easy to clean.

What's Your Style?

Rugs come in every decorating style, so you will want to choose one that complements your overall decorating theme. There are no hard-and-fast rules for picking a style of rug; the right rug is the one that you love and that looks right in your room. Generally, if you want your rug to make a statement, you’ll want a brighter color or busier pattern. If you prefer the rug to be secondary to other furnishings, you’ll want something more subdued.

Traditional styles include Persian and Oriental rugs. The pattern is usually intricate, with borders around patterned sections. Vines, flowers, scrollwork and geometrics are all commonly used in the design. These work with most decorating styles, including formal, Asian, traditional and even contemporary.

Contemporary styles usually showcase bold geometric designs in neutral colors or solid, bright colors. If you want a very dramatic style, choose a rug with both bright color and bold design. This is the rug for a modern room.

Country styles include braided rugs and rag rugs. Other common motifs are animals, flowers, fruit and vegetables or images of farm or country life. Colors are usually neutral or moderate, but not overly bright. Use a country rug in a colonial, primitive, rustic, country or casual room.

Transitional style rugs are somewhere between traditional and contemporary, often combining an Oriental or Persian pattern with brighter colors. You can use a transitional design with any decorating style.

Novelty rugs include animal prints, sporting themes, children’s patterns and other designs that are not traditional area rug themes. These rugs are perfect for kid’s bedrooms, the den or entertainment room or anywhere you want a very whimsical touch.

What Else Do You Need To Know?

  • Though inexpensive area rugs abound, it’s worth it to pay more for a high-quality rug that will stand up to foot traffic and look good even after years of use.
  • If you are starting your decorating with a bare room, choose the area rug first. You can then use the design to match paint and upholstery colors.
  • A good pad underneath your rug not only keeps it in place and makes it feel cushier underfoot; it also extends the life of the rug.
  • Turn your area rugs every few months so they wear evenly.
  • Vacuum at least once per week to remove dirt or grit that can abrade the rug fibers.
  • Check the manufacturer’s recommendations before using a cleaner on your rug.

An area rug should never be a decorating afterthought. Let your floors add to the decor and comfort of your room by choosing the right size, the right material and the right style of rug.

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