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“Do’s” and “Don’ts” When Selecting an Area Rug

Sep 08, 2021

A couple sitting on a sofa with an area rug below their feet

A piece of artwork … for the floor? That’s what the right area rug for your home could become. They’re big, beautiful, come in lots of different colors and patterns, and can be as bold or as subtle as you’d prefer. And it could be the pièce de résistance that ties your room design together.

But unlike artwork, it’s not going to be simply gazed upon — rather, it’s going to be stepped on. So if it’s in a popular area of the house, you’ll want it to be able to withstand the daily family foot traffic (kids, dogs and all alike).

It’s no wonder then that shopping for one comes with its fair share of considerations and can even be a bit daunting. So here are some things you’ll want to do (and some you’ll want to avoid) to make sure the area rug you purchase will be just right for your living space.

Getting the Perfect Size

The first rule of thumb before shopping for any large piece of home furnishings: Measure, measure, measure. An area rug is intended to cover a large space in your home, like a living room or a bedroom. Here’s how to determine the right-sized rug, as if it were made just for you:

Don’t: Select a rug that is too small for the space. An area rug should accentuate the space, make it feel even bigger, and help tie the area together. A rug that is too small will make the room feel fragmented; you want to draw the eye to it for its beauty, not because it looks like it doesn’t belong.

Do: Shop for an area rug that’s expansive and covers a majority of the space. There should be roughly 10 to 20 inches of bare floor space from the edges of the rug to the walls of the room. ] When in doubt or choosing between two different sizes, it’s best to go with the larger size. You’ll also want to make sure the rug is centered in the room.

Carefully Consider the Color

Now it’s time to think about the key design consideration: which color (or colors) will fit the existing aesthetic of the room.

Don’t: The color of your area rug is one you’ll see every day, so don’t go with a color that bothers you or stands out for the wrong reasons. Also, don’t pick a color just because “everyone else” likes it. A rug is going in your home and should set the tone for you and your vision for a space.

Do: Choose wisely. Remember, it’s always about balance. Like with most interior decorating projects, consider:

●    What colors you enjoy being surrounded by

●    The existing color scheme created by the furnishings already in the room

●    How the different colors will work together or against each other

For instance, if your space is already colorful, it’s best to go for a rug with neutral tones or a single color — colors that clash create a chaotic element into your room that you’ll not only see, but feel (because, feng shui). On the other hand, if your furnishings are softer and not as bold, consider using your new area rug to play up a bright pop of color.

Pick the Perfect Pattern

The presence of a pattern in your area rug gives you another opportunity to bring your personal interior style to life. Like color, selecting the right pattern for the room is all about balance. In fact, you’ll want to think about pattern and color simultaneously, as the two often go hand in hand when creating a certain effect.

Don’t: Make your room decor feel overcrowded or chaotic with too many patterns that compete against each other. However, you don’t have to avoid patterns altogether and have a space that’s devoid of personality or flair.

Do: Lean into patterns to bring your room to life — but read the room first. For patterned furniture or walls, a solid rug might be your best bet to create the right balance, whereas solid and subdued furniture and walls could use a pattern pop to offset their simple nature.

Put Thought Into Pile

The pile of a rug — which describes the density of the fibers — is something else you’ll want to take into account. “Low-pile” (flat-fiber) rugs are denser, whereas “high-pile” (which feature shaggy fibers) are less dense. There are both aesthetic and functional pros and cons to each option, depending on your personal needs.

Don’t: Don’t place more importance on a rug’s style that you fail to consider its functionality. Low-pile rugs can be sturdier and more affordable compared to high-pile rugs. On the other hand, don’t assume that a thick pile equates to better quality. Shop, compare, and ask questions.

Do: Consider what kind of foot traffic the room gets where the area rug will live. A room that sees more action, people and foot traffic will benefit from a low- or medium-pile rug that is also stain-resistant; it can handle more wear and tear and it will be easier to clean.

Don’t Let Area Rug Prices Floor You. Do Use Acima.

If you’ve done any looking around, you’ve probably discovered that well-made area rugs can be expensive. Naturally, the larger the rug and the better the quality, the more it will cost you. That’s why it’s important to be in the right mindset when choosing a rug — and to know that you have options when it comes to paying for it.

Don’t: Spend more than you need to all at one time or rely on credit just to get the area rug you’ve got your eye on. At the same time, you don’t have to wait to get it until you have money saved up.

Do: Consider your area rug to be an investment, not a huge expense. And use a lease-to-own* alternative, like Acima, to get the area rug that’s right for you via small lease renewal payments that are right for you, too. When you’re ready, shop area rugs with our name-brand retailers — where Acima will not only help get your floors covered, but also provide you with an affordable lease-to-own agreement.


1. How to Choose the Right Area Rug” – The Spruce, March 18, 2021

2. “Rug Pile: 5 Things You Need to Know” – One Kings Lane