Got a room that somehow lacks the charm and character you crave? Don’t just sweep that problem under the rug, as they say — get an actual area rug to add comfort, color and definition to the interior.

“Area rugs offer an opportunity to add a layer of style to any space, bringing in color and excitement,” said Marlaina Teich, owner of Marlaina Teich Designs in New York City. “Think of rugs as art for your floors that provides visual and physical warmth to a room and which perfectly anchors a space.”

Sehra Han, owner/designer with California-based Scarlett Interior Designs, said an area rug also ties a furniture set together visually and tones down hard angles in a stiff room.

“For example, a rug can signify that a particular set of furniture is for watching TV or for conversing, or a rug can add visual softness to a room with a hardwood floor and no drapes,” Han said.

In addition to accenting a room and cushioning the impact of walking feet, “rugs protect hardwoods from excessive wear and help with sound reduction,” said Leslie Waller, designer with Atlanta- headquartered MODA Floors & Interiors.

Any living space with a bare floor is prime real estate for a rug — particularly the family room, living room, dining room and master bedroom, say the pros. Square or rectangular rugs are best for square or rectangular rooms, while rounded rugs are often ideal for bathrooms or foyers.

Here are five things to consider carefully before choosing an area rug:


“Determining the size of the rug is the most important factor to make it look good in a room,” Han said. “Figure out what group of furniture the rug is meant to go under. The rug should go under at least the two front feet of all the pieces in a furniture group.” Be sure to measure the floor dimensions carefully “and leave an uncovered gap of two to three feet from the wall,” said Kymberlyn Lacy, designer with International Flair Designs in Arkansas.


Modern rugs are either comprised of synthetic fibers like polypropylene, acrylic or nylon, or natural fibers like wool, hemp, silk, viscose, sisal or seagrass. Natural fiber types are usually more luxurious, durable and expensive, while synthetic rugs are often easier to clean and better for high-traffic areas with kids and pets.

Pattern and color

Determine if you want to punch up the room or softly blend in. “If you already have big, bold patterns on your draperies and accent pillows, you might want to go with a solid color or smaller pattern,” Han said. Additionally, subtle, soft, neutral-textured rugs are trending right now, “as homeowners are going for more of a natural feel in room design, as reflected by the popularity of neutral palette paint colors,” Lacy said.

Pile height

If you’re placing an area rug on carpeted floor, “you may want to go with a woven rug or one with a shorter pile,” Han said. “On a hardwood floor, you may want more cushioning that comes with a higher pile.”

Border or no border

“Area rugs with borders on the edges can be visually confining if the furniture is not placed just so, which can throw off the balance,” said Teich, who prefers borderless rugs for this reason.

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