How to Layer Your Rugs Like a Pro

Mixing and matching rugs of different colors and textures will bring major visual interest to your home.

how to layer a rug
Photo: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

A rug is one of the easiest ways to add a little something to a room—a pop of color, some texture, an element of surprise—but with so many options, why choose just one? Layering a few floor coverings on top of one another is a trend that's proven to have staying power. Doing so, however, can feel intimidating, so we decided to get some expert advice. "We're seeing the layering trend so much because of [the popularity of] hygge," says Nancy Fire, the designer behind Studio NYC Design. "Evoking the coziness that's so important today is not just about pillows and throws—you want to think of it from the floor up."

01 of 07

Work with the Room

layering rug with wallpaper

Layering rugs works best in a room where you have space and not that much furniture, like a bedroom, living room, or den. If the room is on the simpler side, Fire recommends layering pattern on pattern. If it has wallpaper, or there's a lot going on in the room, she suggests mixing a solid rug with a patterned iteration.

02 of 07

Color Coordination Is Key

stripes and circle illustration
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Years ago, the rug layering trend was simple—it revolved around placing a patterned piece on top of a sisal or other natural fiber carpet. But today, interior designers and homeowners alike are choosing rugs that speak to each other aesthetically. "It's all about color-coordinating," says Fire. "You can mix and match patterns if your colors work together—if not, it's going to look like a circus."

So, be sure your rug colors are either complementary or tonal, meaning different shades of the same color. "If you're working with geometrics, one might be an octagon and one might be a stripe, but you're relating the patterns through color," says Fire. "Tonality usually works best that way."

03 of 07

Consider Sizing

rugs in basket
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Layering rugs produces the best results when they are different sizes. One should be large and more dominant and the others should be smaller and act as accents.

Another tip: A great way to utilize smaller rugs in a room is to store them in a basket, and set them out when you have guests. "A lot of people like to sit around an ottoman on the floor with pillows," says Fire. "To increase the space of coziness when you have friends over, just roll out some extra accent rugs."

04 of 07

Layer on the Bias

pouf on rugs
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Your first large rug should be laid down straight according to the furniture, and the smaller accent rugs should be set on the bias. You won't know how it'll look until you're layering them in the room, so Fire advises to play—experiment with angles and change the furniture to see what works.

"We are seeing a lot of poufs and accessible elements that you can move around easily," she says. "When they're placed differently on the rug, they can bring a different sensibility and can really enlarge the room." Once you start experimenting, you'll realize just how versatile your space can be.

05 of 07

Think About Seasonal Fabrics

jute illustration
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

When you think of cozying up on a rug, winter might come to mind—but this layering trend works all year round. "You want your floor to be cozy in any season," says Fire. "It's always nice to have the element of dimension using texture, print, pattern, or weave."

While winter is about layering faux furs and shags, summer revolves around woven cotton. Rugs composed of this material are light and easy to move around—and offer a perfect way to switch things up from season to season. "If you want to change the room for the warmer months, why not stack two or three rugs?" asks Fire. "It's fun and interesting and a great way to bring in color into the room, whether you're doing tones of blue, pastels or neutrals."

06 of 07

Go Beyond Boho

layering rug with chair

With all the poufs and patterns out there, the layering rug trend may seem to lean a bit bohemian—but it doesn't have to. If your sensibility is less hippie and more streamlined, layering rugs can still complement your home. "For people who want simplicity, adding a few rugs doesn't have to take away from that—it will just add texture," says Fire.

Instead of going for different patterns and colors, choose neutral tone rugs with different textures. "Layering sisals that are two-toned, like a black and cream, can be really beautiful," she says. "It gives the room dimension without too much pattern."

Try this cheat sheet if you can't nail down a rug layering method: If you're a person who loves color, try pattern on pattern; if you're a person who likes pattern, but is afraid of too much color, go tone on tone; and if you're neither a color nor pattern person, opt for texture.

07 of 07

Have Fun with It

rug patterns
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Despite these guidelines, Fire stresses that there really are no rules when it comes to layering rugs. "There are so many ways you can utilize rugs to be that new design hero," she says. "Go with what your gut says, or try something that your gut wouldn't do and push yourself a little bit. I always say, imperfect is the new perfect."

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