Area Rugs: How to Tie a Room Together

Bohemian area rugs Southwest print | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Chandler Kim

There’s nothing quite like a beautiful floor to set the stage for any room.  If you’re interested in adding area rugs to your home, there are a few tips and tricks to consider.  Before you start worrying about colors and prints, be sure you are filling the space correctly.  There’s a lot of room for creativity, but it’s good to have these few basic guidelines to start with.

Moroccan area rugs brighten Bohemian bedrooms | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Pinterest

Size Matters: Area Rugs

The first thing you need to determine is the right size for the room.  Area rugs should be large enough that one or both legs of any seating area will rest on top.  Generally, it is best to have the rug slide under both front legs, but one is good if the seat is on an angle.  This helps ground the furniture and keeps it from looking like it’s floating in floor space.  Using a rug that is similar in color to the flooring helps the break look very subtle.  Neutral rugs with animal prints are a total hit in a space that demands eclecticism.  Try to find one that is 100% wool and check out Cost Plus’ handy cleaning guide to learn how to care for it easily.

Area rugs living room vintage Danish rosewood sofa | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Erin Williamson

18 Inches

The next thing to consider is the negative space, or area around the rug.  You should generally have around 18 inches of space between the rug and adjoining walls.  Too small of a rug will look lost and too large of a rug will look stuffy.  Remember, these measurements don’t have to be exact, but they are a good “rule of thumb”.  An 8×10 or 9×12 rug works in most living rooms, but don’t take our word for it – get out the measuring tape!  If you’re serious about rugs, the Névé Rug, designed by designed by Sam Moradzadeh and Christina Tullock for Woven, is worth a splurge.  The beautiful minimal style and bold stripes put a modern textural twist on a traditional Moroccan rug.  Glorious!

Black and white area rugs mid-century modern living room | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Best Home Decor Solutions

Mix Styles for Maximum Impact

Do you have contemporary, or mid-century modern-style furniture?  Change things up by adding vintage Persian area rugs with a sleek sofa or chair.   The juxtaposition of the two styles totally works!  Alternatively, you can style mash with the rug, too.  This tufted wool rug from Anthropologie combines Persian rug sensibility with Moroccan fun!  We also recommend using a rug pad under thin rugs like these, to prevent them from slipping and sliding around.

Persian area rugs Barcelona couch | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Melanie Acevdeo

Go for Cozy

Your feet should never suffer for fashion.  Area rugs should feel terrific underfoot.  It all depends on the space.  A jute rug gives you that spa feeling right out of the shower, while softer rugs might be nicer in living rooms or bedrooms.  It’s up to you!  We love the way Oceanside resident Arielle Vey ground a mid-century modern living room together with this Moroccan shag rug. Starting at only $64, you can add a little cozy geometry to any room and stay on budget.  If you like color, Crate & Barrel has a hand knotted rug in a variety of colors.  It’s okay to go a little crazy with something that is easy to replace.

Colored Moroccan area rugs Bohemian living room gold mid-century modern chair | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Glitter Guide

Lose the Corners

With round and oval rugs, all bets are off.  Rugs that are geometric shapes (other than square) can show a little more floor and don’t need all legs on deck.  You can be a little more carefree with the placement; use your eye and make the best decision for the space.  Scrap (aka rag) rugs (check out this DIY) and rugs made from natural grasses tend to fit the bill.  Want something more interesting?  An intricately woven, round jute rug can make any home feel light and breezy.  Take a look at our article on using tropical decor to create a stay-cay environment.  Seagrass rugs are certainly welcome!

Natural seagrass area rugs gold mid-century modern sofa | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Marij Hessel

The Layering Effect

Conversely, rugs should stick out about 18 inches under beds and dining room tables. You don’t need a massive rug to get the effect, however. Layer different styles of rugs to create an earthy, Bohemian vibe in any room. Use the thinner rug (like a Persian-style rug) on the bottom and add thicker rugs (like a Flokati) on top.  Sheepskin rugs are especially nice next to a bed and are lovely to step onto in the morning.  They also make great makeshift meditation spaces – perfect for clearing your mind in comfort.

Flokati area rugs Bohemian bedroom | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Heidi’s Bridge

Girlfriends Against Carpet

If anyone suffers from dust allergies (yours truly), they will learn to loathe carpet.  One of the biggest benefits of area rugs is the ability to have them regularly cleaned or replaced!  Get the comforts of home and have fun with flooring trends at a fraction of the cost.  Hopefully this little guide will help you find the right fit for your room.  It’s so nice to have a place to start!

6 thoughts on “Area Rugs: How to Tie a Room Together

  1. I didn’t realize a rug needed to have a specific clearance from under a bed. Thanks for these helpful tips!

  2. Hey dear, Thanks for sharing your top notch article. I think a good ideal sizing is very important to choose a rug and place it properly in a room even under a bed with the furniture also. So different types of rug and room sizing are very essential to tie a room properly. I think it may be a way good to include the sizing guidelines of the rooms and the rug will your article. For the best use and the good placement of a rug in a different room, sizing will have the first priority. Then it’s maintenance alike. Am I right dear?

    1. Thank you Cynthia! I agree sizing is an often-overlooked element that plays a big part in keeping a room (and the furniture in it) grounded. Cheers!

  3. Great tips!
    I’d like to put a rug in my small living room. The area is triangular. Do I use a circular rug? Square?
    I’d love your input and suggestions. I’m happy to send you a photo to help you understand what I mean by triangular.

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