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All About Area Rugs

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Area rugs are an important element of a well designed room. Not only do they add warmth underfoot, but the anchor and define an area as well as adding colour, texture and pattern to the room. I often consider the area rug the largest piece of artwork in the room and will use it as the inspiration for the whole design concept for the room! Let's take a closer look at what you will need to know when selecting the right area rug for your room.

Know How To Selecting The Size

Common questions I hear are: Where do I take my area rug to? The front of the furniture? Behind it? How large should the rug be?

If you are using an area rug for the whole room then a good rule of thumb for selecting the right size is to leave at between 8 to 10 inches of floor exposed around the perimeter of your area rug. You can go as high as 10" to 20" without the rug looking too small for the area. Centre the rug in the room and have the same distance from the walls on all sides.

Another way that you may be using an area rug is to define a space i.e. conversation area in a living room. For this option there are three different looks to choose from.

A common mistake to make with area rugs is to purchase one that is too small so best to err on the larger size so that things do not look to skimpy. One or two more feet of floor coverage can mean the difference between a room that feels haphazardly put together and a space that feels thoughtfully designed and tailored to the layout. An area rug should fit under all of the key furniture pieces in a room. It this isn’t possible, you should be able to fit at least the front legs of major upholstered pieces on the rug (the back legs can be off). But all the legs of smaller pieces should be on the rug whenever possible.

If you have a large room, divide up the conversation areas and use a different rug for each area. They don not have to match but should compliment each other through color or pattern. Select rugs of different shapes and sizes will create more interest and contrast. Using two rugs of the same size may divide the room in half. Octagonal or circular rugs add a unique touch to a room, and runners are great for hallways and other narrow or high traffic areas.

Know Where to Place The Area Rug

Living or Family Room

1) Place furniture in front of rug 2) Place front legs of furniture on rug 3) Place all four legs of furniture on rug

A typical, living area rugs are 5' x 8', 8' x10', or 9' x12' feet.

In a living room or family room, a rug should be centered under your coffee table if one is being used. Living room seating is then positioned in a number of ways: with four legs on the rug, with four legs off of the rug, or with only the front two legs on the rug. For good design keep things uniform, so if only the front legs of your sofa rest on the area rug, the same should go for the armchair, too.


Hardwood floors are a huge trend now but it is always nice to give your feet a soft surface to land on every morning. Choosing an area rug that extends 18 to 24 inches beyond each side of the bed will allow adequate space for this. I have also used runners at the beside as well. If your bed is flanked by nightstands, measure the distance from outer edge to edge of both nightstands, and use this width as your guide. When determining the length of the rug, account for any furniture (like a bench or pair of ottomans) at the foot of the bed: All four legs of the piece should either fit on or off the rug.

Dining Room

Always choose a rug that’s larger than the size of your table. To prevent chairs from rocking on an uneven surface the area rug under your dining table should be big enough to account for the distance that dining chairs get pushed back from the table when people sit or stand. To find the ideal size, add 36 inches to both the length and width of your table (or 36 inches to the diameter if it’s round).

Know Your Types Of Weaves

Power Loomed

Featuring intricate designs constructed through thousands of reels, these rugs are highly durable, and resistant to wear and tear.

Hand Woven

This traditional method of weaving produces flat, versatile rugs with intricate details.

 Hand Tufted

Using a tufting tool, this technique allows skilled craftsmen to create curved patterns with different heights and densities.

Hand Knotted

Highly specialized artisans have used this technique through generations, creating highly detailed rugs with lasting value.

Know Your Fibres

Polyester Area Rugs

  • Synthetic fibre.

  • Non-allergenic.

  • Resistant to stains and mildew.

Cotton Area Rugs

  • Natural fibre.

  • Versatile, durable and soft.

  • Easy to clean, with many being machine washable.

Nylon Area Rugs

  • Synthetic fibre.

  • Durable and versatile.

  • Easy to clean and great for areas with heavy foot traffic.

Polypropylene Area Rugs

  • Most stain-resistant synthetic fibre available.

  • Less expensive than other fibres.

  • Repels water and is impervious to most stains.

Wool Area Rugs

  • Natural, durable, soft, and repels water.

  • Easy to clean.

  • Prone to shedding and colour fading, so take the amount of sunlight and foot traffic of the room into account when making this choice.

Care Of An Area Rug

Below are a few important guidelines that will ensure your many long years with your area rug purchase.


Once a year, turn your rug 180 degrees. This will help prevent certain spots from fading or wearing more than others.  


Today’s powerful vacuums will easily remove dirt and dust from a rug, but they can just as easily loosen or tear rug fibers. To preserve your area rug, use vacuum attachments, which are gentler, especially around the binding or serging at the rug's outer edges. Alternately, try a carpet sweeper, which is manual and very gentle. Keep in mind that for the first few months after you set down a new rug, some shedding is normal and not a cause for concern.  

Read the Label

Some rugs are machine-washable, but many are not. Before tossing your rug in the wash or bringing it to a dry cleaner, refer to the care instructions on the label.  

Spot Clean the Right Way

A rug will warrant a professional cleaning once every one to two years. In between, spot cleaning is the best way to minimize stains. Though the exact cleaning process may vary depending on the type of rug and source of the stain, this method is safe and effective for most rugs: blot the stain (never rub it!) with a dry white cloth on both sides, spray or dab it with water, and repeat this process until the stain fades.  

Under Pad

Whether it me the most inexpensive or the highest price tagged area rug, I always recommend under pad for my clients area rugs.

Under pad is well worth the additional small investment to your area rug purchase and will provide numerous benefits including:

  • Keep your area rug properly positioned

  • Preventing it from slipping and sliding

  • Reduce wear and tear on the rug

  • Help to absorb the impact of feet and noise

  • Make vacuuming your rug easier

  • Protect smooth-surface flooring from being scratched by the back of the area rug

Believe it or not I have just briefly touched on a few aspects of helpful information about area rugs. If Allen Interiors Inc. can be of further assistance in helping you choose your next area rug please do give us a call as we would be more than happy to help you with this important purchase.

In a world full of beauty….

Gail K Allen

Interior Design Consultant

#featheryournest #arearugs #rugweaving #gooddesign #underpad #carpetcare #arearugsize

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