How to Choose a Rug for Your Room

Do you want to change the look of your living room?  A rug can be one of the most impactful parts of how a room looks.

How to choose a rug for any room

For years I used my mom’s hand me down oriental rug.  What could be better than a free rug?

When we moved into our new house I decided I wanted to get a rug of my own, at almost 50 it was time.  I learned a lot about rugs while doing my research and I thought some of these things might help you in your rug buying decisions.

1. Figure out what style of rug speaks to you

Research Rugs

Research is always my first step in any purchasing decision.  My downfall is often that I get stuck in a research loop.  I want to find the one perfect thing that checks all the boxes.  I think it’s important to set a deadline for yourself when you should stop researching and make a decision. I had a time deadline.  We invited people over and I didn’t want to have a bare floor. 

How do you research rugs? First, start by looking for photos of rooms that you love. Look at what is on the floor in these rooms. I like to create a Pinterest board and pin about 10 rooms I like. I also find photos of rugs that I love in blogs that I like to read. My design blogs for rug inspiration are YounghouseloveMaisondepax and Chrislovesjulia.   This is the fun part.

Decide on a Rug Material

As you start to look at the images you like you should see a trend. You will start to see more and more images that have a similar look. See what the rugs in these rooms have in common.

  • Material – Synthetic or Natural
  • Color Palette – Neutral or Colorful
  • Solid or Pattern

Synthetic or Natural

There are both synthetic and natural rugs that I really like.  Choosing which is right for you depends on your budget and how long you plan to use the rug.

Synthetic Rugs – There are thousands of synthetic rugs even in 9×12 size that are below $300.  These rugs are made from polypropylene (man made).  They are a great choice if you aren’t sure you want to keep your rug forever and you don’t want to spend a lot.  However, I was concerned about the rug off-gassing.  Does that sound nutty?  If you think so, read these articles:

Are Polypropylene Rugs Safe?  Toxins in Synthetic Rugs – I had no idea before reading this that rugs are treated with fire retardants and potentially even insecticide.

Healthy Carpet and Rug Tips – Even Martha Stewart writes about this, so it must be true.

I also read that synthetic rugs don’t wear as well in high-traffic areas and don’t last as long.

Natural Fiber Rugs – Natural rugs are made mainly from wool or cotton.  These rugs I can attest will last longer than you want to keep them.  I used my mom’s wool Karastan rug for 12 years and it looked like new.  The downside is that they are more pricey.  I decided for me that longevity was worth the investment.

Figure out the Color Palette

Neutral – I’ve seen so many photos of rooms with neutral rugs that I love.  There is one online with a warm creamy background color with faded grey diamond pattern that I’ve seen all over the internet.  Muted neutral rugs can lend themselves to almost any furniture. 

I was close to buying this rug until I noticed that almost all of my living room furniture is oatmeal linen colored.  The images I loved so much had darker leather or grey sofas and chairs.   The sea grass rug in my old living room is both natural fiber and neutral.  It has a black border that I have used in many rooms.

Colorful – Colorful rugs are a good way to add a pop of color to a room that is neutral.  I’ve found that the color and pattern tend to hide wear and even stains.  My nephew spilled blue gatorade on my oriental rug.  Even though I couldn’t get it out, no one can spot it.

Pattern or Solid

Solid – The disadvantage of solid rugs is that they can show stains more easily unless they are a natural fiber like seagrass or jute.  The nice thing about a solid rug is that it doesn’t make a huge design statement.  If you are uncertain, this can be a good choice because you can make more of a statement with another element in the room like curtains or artwork.

Pattern – This is really where the most variety comes in rug choices.  The are modern more geometric patterns, random patterns, medallion patterns and so many more.  It’s my theory that the pattern can help to disguise wear and dirt.  The type and size of the pattern should coordinate with the upholstery in your room.  By coordinate I don’t mean match, I mean that if you have a very large pattern on your curtains or sofa, you may find a smaller rug pattern more appealing.

2.) Determine the right size rug

In the reading I’ve done about rug size there seems to be a common theme – bigger is better.  If you buying a rug for your living room you should make sure that the legs of your furniture are on the rug.  In the photo above you can see that I didn’t have the furniture on the rug and it looks like the rug is floating.  A larger rug makes a room feel more cozy.

If you are buying a rug for your bedroom, try to get one large enough where the bed can sit on top of the rug and you can step out onto the rug.  Dining rooms, if you want a rug, should be large enough where all of the chairs sit on the rug and can scoot back a little and still be on the rug.

3.) Where to Shop For Your Rug

There are lots of great rugs to be found online.  Etsy is my favorite place because there are more unique rugs and even used/vintage rugs.  I found a small Persian rug on Etsy that shipped from Turkey in just a few days.  The seller LalaLandRugs had many good reviews and the rug was exactly as pictured.   If you “favorite” a rug on Etsy, you may find the seller reaches out with a coupon after a few days.  Of course there are also rugs at Target, Wayfair and Overstock in every size shape, pattern and material.  If yo have time to wait for the right one to be listed, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist have many inexpensive  rugs.

For larger size rugs with a pattern I prefer to see rug before I buy it.  In Dallas that’s easier because there are lots of stores like Pottery Barn, West Elm, Serena & Lilly and my favorite – Ballard Designs.  If you live in a smaller town, don’t despair, great rugs are everywhere.  Try searching for “rugs” + the name of your city.

4.) How to Get the Best Price

If you are buying a rug online there are still a few good ways to get a discount.  If you don’t get emails from the seller, sign up or subscribe.  They will often send out a discount offer for your first purchase.  Many larger websites allow you to “favorite” or “like” a product.  Second step, add that item to your cart but don’t buy it.  Most larger onine retailers have systems in place to email you and offer a discount if you finish the purchase.

If you are buying in person it’s simpler to get a discount.  Simply ask for a discount off the price.  This doesn’t work at the national chains, but it works like a charm at rug stores.  They often expect you to ask.  If you aren’t comfortable asking, which I’m not, just ask “What’s your best price?”.  This isn’t insulting and they may surprise you with an even lower number than you would have thrown out.  I advise that you don’t say a lot, just a simple question and then wait.


This might sound like a lot to consider, but rugs are an important part of a room.  They can dictate the feel of the room.  Do you want your room to feel cozy and warm or chic and sophisticated?  It’s important to think about the feel you are trying to accomplish.   Have your purchased a rug recently?  What made you choose the rug you brought home.

How to Choose the right rug for your room.

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  1. This is a really helpful blog post! So many people buy rugs without really considering the style, size, and material first. I bought a rug a few years ago and wish I would have done more research before purchasing it! It’s a fluffy dark gray rug that is so cozy, but it’s a little too big for our living room and it collects dog hair like a magnet! I have to get it cleaned twice a year by a professional rug cleaner just to keep it free from pet hair and stains. The next time I buy a rug, it will definitely be a more thoughtful decision!

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