Bedroom with area rug

Almost any room in a home can accommodate an area rug, but it's more than just color and pattern that you need to consider. When looking at rugs, it's important to consider your lifestyle, space and family dynamics as well.

Info to consider before purchasing a rug

These tips will help you determine which is best for you and your home.

Common rooms for area rugs

Decorator's tip: If you are limited on floor space in your master bedroom, center a rug under the bottom half of your bed so it covers the sides and bottom area surrounding your bed.
  • The nursery: A nursery rug can add to the decor of the room, cushion a parent's tired feet while rocking and walking a sleepy baby and provide a safe place for baby to play while on the floor. If your nursery has hard floors, consider a larger rug with a nonslip backing or pad to not only keep a crawling baby safe, but to keep the room warm and free from unwanted noises and echos.
  • The living room and family room: It's important to select a rug for a living and family room based on how much foot traffic these rooms get. The more durable, the better!
  • The dining room: While rugs under dining room tables look nice, it's essential to place the right area rug in a dining room. Look for rugs that are easy to clean, repel stains and have darker colors or patterns.
  • The master bedroom: If you have a large master bedroom, you can easily fill floor space — and complete the room decor — with a practical and complementary rug.

What to look for when buying an area rug

Before you make a big rug purchase, look at the style, colors, decor and size of the room; the amount of foot traffic in the space; and the rug's fibers. These tips will help you determine which rug style, size and color is best for you.


  • When measuring to cover a large or entire floor area, measure at least 12 to 24 inches from the wall and baseboards.
  • Consider different rug shapes and textures to change the look and feel of a room.
  • Purchase a rug with a pattern to brighten up a plain room.
  • Secure a nonslip pad or strips under a rug on hardwood, tile or laminate flooring.
  • Use an indoor/outdoor rug in sunrooms and mudrooms.
  • Measure your dining room table and the length of the chairs when pulled out to obtain the proper size rug for under a table and chairs.
  • Purchase a rug meant for high traffic areas (hallways and entryways) to reduce wear and staining on permanent flooring.
  • If you have children and/or pets, consider stain-resistant rugs.


  • Don't buy a rug too big for your room. A rug that extends all the way to the wall can look out of place and become damaged over time.
  • Avoid high-pile rugs in dining rooms, especially if you have young children or pets.
  • Don't place an indoor rug in an outdoor area. There are specific rugs made for outside conditions.
  • Don't be afraid to add some color and patterns to a room.

Picking the right rug color for your home

Decorator's tip: Make a vision board or Pinterest board with your ideas to map out the colors, patterns, textures and furniture pieces in your room. A visual layout can help you decide, especially if you're having a hard time choosing between multiple rug options.

Unless you are planning to redecorate the entire room, you'll want to consider your key elements in the space by looking at the three main colors of the room. While the rug doesn't need to match the colors or the room perfectly, a patterned rug should complement at least two to three of the main colors. For a simple look, or to complement a room with many patterns already incorporated in the decor, consider purchasing a single-colored or framed-style rug.

Designing around an area rug >>

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Tags: rugs

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Comments on "How to choose the perfect rug for your living space"

Christina Holt August 22, 2012 | 9:03 AM

So glad these tips and ideas were helpful! Enjoy decorating!

Katie August 20, 2012 | 11:00 AM

Excellent article on choosing the right rugs for your living space! There are many important things to consider before buying a rug for your home or apartment, and you covered most of them in this article. When it comes to selecting a rug color, I like the tip about considering the three main colors in a room and choosing a rug that complements two of them. This is an easy rule to remember and will help me when I eventually go shopping for my next rug.

Emma August 15, 2012 | 11:17 AM

These tips are really helpful! I am decorating my new apartment and am definitely considering adding a rug to the room so I found this article super helpful! I love the tip about adding a rug in the master bedroom and have it overlap with the bed. It would look perfect in my place!

Tina August 15, 2012 | 8:23 AM

This was a great read. I'm always trying to add to my house but never know what to do. I like the idea of rugs. They really can open the space up and they add so much to the room. Choosing a color is always the hardest part for me! Rugs aren't cheap, so you want to make sure it's a color you can live with for awhile!

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