How to Easily Select an Area Rug for Your Home

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How to Easily Select an Area Rug for Your Home

I begin each interior design project working from the floor to the ceiling. Part of that initial phase includes not only selecting new flooring materials but also area rugs. Specifying the right rug is not only about choosing the best color or pattern but also about choosing the correct size for your room and the best material for your lifestyle.

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How to Size an Area Rug

There are a gazillion blogs and Pinterest boards out there about rug size. To save you some time, here is the summary: Get the largest size that will fit in your room. All furniture should sit on the rug, which keeps it off the wall and in a tight conversational configuration.

Here are the best area rug shapes and sizes for each room:

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How to Select the Best Type of Area Rug

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Area rugs normally come in eight different construction types:

HAND-KNOTTED: The most common hand-knotting traditions are Persian, Turkish and Tibetan. The rug begins with a background of vertical warp threads and weavers then uses individual knots of horizontal weft threads to create the design. If you are looking for an heirloom piece this is the best of the best. You can also expect to pay a premium for this labor intensive type of rug. 

  • HAND-LOOMED: This rug is created on a traditional loom. A vertical warp is created and then a shuttle is used to apply the weft. Loomed patterns may have a loop or cut pile surface texture with an appearance similar to hand-tufted rugs. Unlike hand-tufted rugs, these rugs do not require a backing. 

  • HAND-TUFTED: A canvas is stretched tightly over a frame and the design is drawn by hand onto the canvas. A tufting gun is then used to push yarn through the canvas to cover the entire surface area. Tufted rugs can have a cut or loop pile. After tufting, a latex backing with canvas is applied. 

  • HAND-HOOKED: A technique used in hand-tufted rugs to create a loop texture. 

  • HAND-WOVEN: Textures and patterns are created by weaving different yarns through a vertical warp. 

  • HAND-CRAFTED: A rug that is handmade using techniques such as piecing, stitching, die cutting, etc. Hand-crafted can describe hair-on-hide and leather rugs, cut felt rugs, embroidered rugs, etc. 

  • FLATWEAVE: Flatweave is often used to describe kilims and dhurries. A hand-woven construction that typically has no pile and is reversible. 

  • MACHINE-MADE: These rugs are constructed on large, automated looms. The designs are created by lifting the weft yarns to the surface. 

How to Choose the Best Fiber for Your Area Rug

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Fiber is no small element of an area rug. While you might balk at the hefty price tags, certain fibers will ensure that your rug looks beautiful - even after years of constant use. Depending on your lifestyle and household, you have different fiber options available to you, including the following:

  • WOOL: Wool rugs are an excellent choice for high traffic areas - living rooms and hallways - or spill-prone spaces. If you want a rug that is durable, long-lasting, and naturally stain resistant, you really can’t go wrong with a wool rug.

  • SILK: If you want a truly luxurious rug for your bedroom, pick a silk rug. Just remember they don’t do well with moisture, can be quite expensive, and are less sturdy than a wool rug.

  • COTTON: Cotton rugs are popular among my vegan clients, including flat weaves. They are machine-washable but require a rug pad to keep them from slipping around the room.

  • JUTE AND SISAL: Made of natural materials, jute and sisal rugs are a fun, casual look for a family room or breakfast nook. Keep in mind that jute is coarse and firm, which makes it uncomfortable underfoot. Sisal, however, has a smoother and finer surface.

  • POLYPROPYLENE:  Made from polymer fibers fabricated to look like wool, sisal, and other common rug fibers, these rugs are both durable and soft. They are designed for superior comfort and resilience, making them versatile and extremely easy to clean. For homes with children and pets, I highly recommend a polypropylene rug.

How to Choose Colors & Patterns for Your Area Rug

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As an interior designer, I get questions about what I have selected for my own home. When it comes to area rugs, here is the scoop:

I have a large living room, and my area rug is 9’6” x 13”. The front legs of my sofa and two chairs sit on the rug - just as they should. My polypropylene rug cleans up easily with a vacuum despite my having two dogs (a yellow lab and a black lab), one big husband, and two small grandchildren.

I picked a rug with a subtle cream and gray textured pattern. Since it is so easy to clean, I wasn’t limited to using a dark color palette. My household is active, messy, and full of life. I chose a rug that could keep up with our lifestyle and suggest that you do the same!


The Shoppe at KTJ Design Co., carries Loloi, Surya and Jaunty Rugs. We’ve researched high and low for the best rugs at the best price point, and we like these brands the best.

Need help selecting a rug and more?

Come to our workshop in September!

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Kathleen JennisonComment