How to Buy an Area Rug

An area rug is one of the best accessories a room can have.  A well-chosen area rug can set the style and color scheme for  your room. It can be overwhelming trying to find the right rug for your space. I have a few tips that will help make the process a bit easier.

Determining the Size

The first consideration is the size of the room and which rug size you should purchase.  One rule is the bigger the room the bigger the area rug. Rug sizes range from 3×5 all the way up to 12×15. Start by measuring the space the rug will be in and determining if you will float your furniture or if it will be against a wall. Believe it or not that little bit of info will make a difference in the size you select.

Let’s look at buying a rug for a living room as an example.  If you plan to float the furniture, where the furniture is not against the wall, you will want a bigger rug. All of the furniture legs will need be on the rug. If furniture is against the wall, the rug can be a little smaller with only the front legs of the furniture on the rug. You will want to avoid a rug that only fits under the coffee table or doesn’t cover a reasonable area. It’s just too small for the room.

Floating Furniture in the Room 


Furniture against the Wall

Don’t do this! 


Selecting a rug for dining room will require other considerations. If your table is round, you will want to buy a round rug that will let all of the chairs fit nicely on the rug when pulled out for sitting. A rectangular table will also require a rug with enough room for the chair legs to be on the rug. A good way to remember this is to select a rug a that is no less than 24 inches wider than the chairs and table. Ideally, you want 36 inches beyond the edges of the table & chairs. This point is important for safety. If you opt for something smaller, you risk the chair getting caught on the rug edge.

Round Table 

Rectangular Table


Area rugs are made of many different materials, from jute to cotton to wool and recycled bottles.  (Yes, Berber is made form recycled plastic.) When deciding on which material to get, you may want to factor in durability, especially if the rug will be in a high traffic area.  Two of the best natural materials for high traffic areas are cotton and wool. Wool may be a little harder on the budget but there are synthetic options, such as polypropylene, that will work and are more budget friendly.


Area rugs can be very expensive or rather inexpensive. A lot of it depends on the materials used to make the rug. The rule of thumb when buying a rug is to best quality your budget will allow for. A bulk of your budget should be spent on furnishings and a portion of it spent on the rug.  You don’t want to skimp on the area rug, but it does not have to be the single most expensive item in the room.  You want it to be the best quality you can afford as it will see a lot of wear and tear over the years and you want it to hold up over time.  Hand tied rugs will be more expensive where as machine woven will be a bit easier on the budget.


Taking proper care of your area rug will help it last for years to come. Caring for your rug will vary depending on the size and material.  Treat larger area rugs similar to wall-to-wall carpeting, with regular vacuuming.  To keep them from wearing unevenly, turn them yearly.  Deep clean your rug on an annual basis too.  Smaller rugs are a bit easier to care for with some cotton rugs being machine washable on a delicate cycle.  Check the suggested care and follow the recommendations regardless what size or material you buy. If an antique rug is in your budget, be sure to get a lot of information on the fiber content so you understand the care required.  After all, you are making an investment.

Before you go shopping, know your budget, the size of the room and the traffic patterns. Knowing these key things will help you to pick the right area rug for your space, saving you at least a few headaches.