The Right Way to Style Your Area Rug
There's more to it than just laying one down on the floor.
You could buy any old rug and roll it out on your floor, but chances are there's a better way to place and style an area rug in your space. To help you add impactful accents to your home, we asked two experts for their best advice on buying an area rug that's right for a particular space and how to lay it out for maximum style.
Buy the right size rug for your room.
Try not to buy a rug that is too small or too big for a space. "You want your area rug to make a statement that's appropriate for your space—not too big and not too small," says Ashley Bowen, the lead editorial stylist for online retailer Zulily. Bowen recommends starting by measuring the room in which you'd like to place the rug. Then, purchase a rug that allows you to "maintain [a gap of] at least 8 inches, and up to 24 inches from the walls," recommends Donna Isralsky, vice president of home merchandising and operation for Resident. "The smaller the room, the smaller the gap."
Use the rug to "frame" the space.
"When styling an area rug, aim to use the piece to help frame your livable spaces," instructs Isralsky. For example, here's what that looks like in a living room: The center of the coffee table would be in the center of the rug, with couches, chairs, and side pieces surrounding it and on—or, at least partially on—the rug, she says. "It's important to try and ensure that an area rug extends under all the key pieces of furniture in the room," Isralsky describes.
Keep furniture on the rug.
In a living room, "it's fine to have the front legs of a major upholstered piece on the rug and the back legs off," Isralsky says. "But all the legs of smaller pieces should be on the rug." If you have a very large room, you may need more than one rug to make this happen. "Divide up the conversation areas and use different rugs for each space," Isralsky instructs. "These pieces don't have to match, but they should be neutral or tied together by color or pattern."
In a dining room, your table and its chairs should fit on the rug. "Aim to ensure that all four chair legs remain on the rug, even when they're pulled out from the table," Isralsky says.
In your bedroom, "a rug can either be large enough to fit under the bed and side tables with a few extra inches beyond," says Bowen, "or styled with two smaller runners on either side of the bed.” Another option? Style a medium-sized rug under the lower two-thirds of your bed, says Bowen. No matter what size or style you choose, "the goal in the bedroom is to always have a soft and cozy place to start your feet off right in the morning," Bowen says.
Put area rugs on rug pads.
If you'd like your rugs to stay where you've placed them—and in like-new condition—then consider investing in rug pads. "Not only do they hold your rug in place, but protect it from wear and tear," says Isralsky. (Another trick to keep your rugs in tip-top shape? “Do your best to avoid exposing your rugs to continuous and direct sunlight, because this will cause the rug's colors to fade over time," Isralsky explains.)