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How to Choose the Perfect Living Room Rug
That perfect living room rug!!! They can be that one amazing thing that pulls your whole design together, but they’re so dang hard to pick out sometimes! If you find yourself totally stumped by the huge world of rug options out there, I totally get it. Not only are there so many to choose from, but how do you decide what size you need? How do you know what material to choose? Does the rug need to be touching all the furniture in the room?! There are a lot of questions involved.
But don’t despair! I’ve bought what feels like a million rugs over the years for my clients, my HGTV shows, and myself. I’m a chronic over-orderer and then returner so I can test things out. So, yeah. I have this all figured out now, phew! My Built Custom Homes Team made a little Q&A for me to help me organize all my rug-buying thoughts, and I’m hoping it helps you pick the right rug for your living room.
How to Choose the Perfect Living Room Rug
1. What’s the first thing you need to consider when you’re looking to buy a living room rug?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you gotta measure! So before you even think about buying a rug, you need to buy a measuring tape. This 26-foot tape measure is my favorite. Once your tape measure arrives, measure your room and measure your couch. You want your rug to sit under the couch and be out of the walkway in a small room. If the room is huge and feels really empty and open, you can get a rug that’s large enough to cover the walkway and have all furniture in the room with at least two legs on the rug. For example, in Hazel’s nursery I wanted the room to feel cozy, so I used a giant rug that covered the entire floor. The couch and a layered rug (more on that in a second) sit on one side of the room, while her crib is on the other, but all furniture in the room has at least two legs on the rug! The other option, like my living room in my #CaliCapeCod, is to use a smaller rug and keep the walkway open.
2. Why is size important?
Almost more important than the actual rug, is getting the size of the rug right. Too small, it’s going to look silly and dinky. Too big and it will overpower the room. My best advice: go online (Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz) and find a room that has a similar setup to yours and a rug size that looks right to you. Then tape out different rug sizes in your own living room until you figure out what size will look proportionate to the photo you found. OR, if you’re more visual like me, order 3 different sizes and try them, returning the 2 that don’t work. This is a lot more schlepping; poor Brett has put down and picked up SO MANY rugs in his day, but it’s the best way to KNOW how it will look in your space. Of course, this only works for rugs with free shipping.
3. What are the best kinds of materials for high-traffic areas?
I love jute. I use jute rugs EVERYWHERE. There’s also rag rugs that I love for high-traffic areas. For the most part, I never spend a lot of money on rugs. I like to buy the less expensive options and pass them on after a few years. In my house, with dogs and kids, friends, coffee, red wine, sushi on the coffee table (yes we eat in our living room ALL THE TIME), it just works better than having the rugs professionally cleaned over and over. We do get them cleaned, but I worry about them staining less if I know I can afford another one if need be. If you’re unsure of the rug’s texture just by just looking at a computer screen, some retailers sell rug samples so you can feel the real thing before you buy.
4. What rug material should you avoid in a living room area?
I know, I know, those shag rugs saved on your ‘gram are calling your name. Well I’m here to tell you THEY SUCK. Ha! I can’t tell you how many awesome shaggy rugs I’ve purchased, installed under heavy furniture, only to remove them a week (sometimes 3 days) later and return them. The problem? They shed. They shed so much it’s like having another dog in the house. The Roomba gets stuck on it.
5. What if you don’t have a very big budget for rug-buying? Any cost-saving tricks?
I have a rug secret that might not be so secretive if you follow my work closely. But I’ll lay it on ya: I’m a big fan of layering rugs! Like… most of the rugs I style are layered. Not only does layering rugs add more texture and interest to a space, but it also can be a way to stretch a pretty, smaller rug further. Let’s say you LOVE kilim rugs, but you can’t pay that kilim price tag for a rug that covers your whole space. Buy an inexpensive jute rug (one of my faves is from Amazon!) as your bottom layer that covers the space. Then layer your pretty kilim rug on top – maybe the smaller size rug’s price is in your budget. And voila! You still get that kilim style, but your room doesn’t look like it has a dinky rug in it because it’s anchored with the larger jute rug. I’m telling you, once you start layering rugs, you won’t want to stop. And yes, you can thank me later 😉
6. Are rug pads really necessary?
I’m going to be honest, I switch out rugs a lot in my house, so I don’t usually use rug pads in my own home. But I do for a lot of my clients. Why? They can help keep the rug from slipping, especially if the rug slips around on a particular type of flooring. Rug pads can also help extend the life of the rug, if you don’t intend to swap it out for a new one anytime soon. And if you have kiddos, they’re a really good idea because they provide that much more cushion between the rug and the floor. I’ve also found carpet tape to be really handy for rugs that have corners that just won’t lay flat. And if you have a pet who sheds a lot, a rug lint roller comes in clutch!
7. What are your favorite places to buy rugs?
8. If you have two rugs in the same space – i.e. you can see another rug from the living room – what is your protocol for this? Do you have them match, or same color family?
I like to have one neutral and one patterned. Otherwise yes, they need to feel cohesive.
Shop My Picks for Living Room Rugs
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