The Ultimate Guide for Choosing the Perfect Rug

A guide for the best sizes of rugs for different rooms, the best rug materials for different uses, and ways to pair them in open floor plans.

Without a doubt, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked in my Instagram DMs or email every day are about rugs. I mean, they’re just so dang perplexing. What size should I get? What should I do in an open floor plan? What’s the best material to use with a family that spills all the time?

It really is one of those big decisions that can make or break a room coming together.

So if this one is a doozy for you, I thought maybe it would help to put together a big guide for choosing the perfect rug every time.

Entryways

The Ultimate Guide for Choosing the Perfect Rug

Last year, I made the mistake of ordering a rug that was slightly too big for our foyer. See how that blue rug butts right up to that chest? It was pushed right up against our front door too, which wasn’t ideal, but I lived with it anyway until I found one that was a better size.

Pick one that leaves 8-16 inches of bare floor or carpet exposed around the rug.

Rug in entryway

This 3×5 rug was just the right fit.

For materials, go with ones that can stand up to heavy traffic. Cotton flatweaves can be washed. Wool rugs repel stains, but be aware they can shed. Polypropylene as well as natural fiber rugs like jute, sisal, seagrass, hemp, and bamboo slat are great at standing up to lots of foot traffic.

rug in foyer

I love using colorful, patterned rugs because they hide stains well.

rug in foyer

Dining Rooms

how to choose a rug for a dining room

One of the biggest mistakes I made years ago was putting rugs under our dining room table that weren’t large enough, so every time we would push out our chairs, the legs would get caught on the edge of the rugs.

This Ruggable we have now gives us plenty of room to scoot them in and out. (I wrote a full non-biased review about my Ruggable here BTW. Some things I love about them, some I don’t.)

I used a 6×9 in our breakfast nook. (You can use a rectangular or square rug under a round table, if you prefer.)

breakfast nook

And we use this 8×10 rug in our dining room.

It’s best to use flatweave or low-pile rugs under dining tables so they don’t get caught on chair legs. And it’s best to use stain-resistant or washable rugs like wool, cotton, jute, sisal, seagrass, hemp, or bamboo slat. 

dining room

Living Rooms

how to choose an area rug in a living room

If you can’t manage to fit the front of your furniture legs onto your rug in your living room, replace it with one that will fit or layer your smaller rug on top of a larger natural fiber rug.

We use this 9×12 rug in our living room since it’s a rather large space.

neutral winter living room

And we used this 8×10 rug in this living room since it was a more narrow space.

You can opt for flatweave, low-pile, or high-pile rugs depending on your style, but for durability, it’s best to use materials that are wool, nylon, polypropylene, cotton, jute, sisal, seagrass, or hemp.

coastal living room with beams, navy sofa, rug, and weathered table

Bedrooms

how to choose a rug for a bedroom

In bedrooms, you can use softer materials that are less durable since they get less traffic like silk, olefin, and chenille. Wool and polypropylene work well too.

Since our master bedroom is a bit on the small side, but we have a king sized bed, we used this rug in 8×10.

black master bedroom

For Olivia’s room, we used this braided wool rug in 8×10 under her queen bed.

girl's bedroom decor

This rug we used in this bedroom under the queen bed is an 8×10.

teal and blush bedroom

And this rug we used under this queen bed in our guest bedroom is an 8×10.

guest bedroom with green velvet curtains

Doorways

how to choose a rug for the porch

For porches and in front of doors, it’s best to use a rug that’s wide enough to reach both sides of the door and made of materials rated for outdoor use.

I loved doing the layered look on our porch.

layered plaid rug with welcome mat

But since we’ve stenciled our front porch floor, it does the job without the layering to mimic the look of a rug.

fall porch with stenciled floor

Kitchens

how to choose the best rug for a kitchen

Leave the area in front of the stove and refrigerator clear from a rug, but consider putting one in front of your sink or along the kitchen island.

If you have a galley kitchen, a runner would work best.

Just like dining rooms, use flatweave or low-pile rugs. And it’s best to use stain-resistant or washable rugs like wool, cotton, jute, sisal, seagrass, hemp, or bamboo slat in case food is dropped. 

This wool rug repels stains in our kitchen like a champ.

green and white two tone kitchen with wool rug

Open Concept

If you have an open concept but feel stuck with how to mix rugs in different areas of your open room, choose rugs that have similar color palettes and similar styles (but don’t make them match).

If I’m using a blue striped flatweave rug in a living room, I’d want to use a blue checked flatweave rug in the adjoining dining space. Both are in the blue color family, both have straight, geometric lines, and both are made of the same type of material (but they don’t match).

On our back porch, we used a round jute 8′ rug and a natural striped 6×9 rug. They don’t match, but they work together as a pair.

summer back porch

These are some of my favorite pairings for open concept spaces:

rug pairings for open floor plans

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

And these are some of my favorite budget-friendly rugs:

Whew! That was a lot, but I hope that helped.

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16 Comments

  1. Love the post!!!
    My question or concern is….my husband says “no” to any rugs on the hardwood floors as the dirt or dust from the rug will eventually make it’s way to the floors and scratch the finish.
    Is there something that could be done as to not let this happen, other than vacuuming 2 or 3 times a day.

    The house feels and looks so cold without them.
    Help me to change his thoughts…if at all possible.

    Thank you

    1. You can put a barrier under mat between the floor and the rug. A rug will make a room so much softer, reduce noise and warmer in the winter.

    2. I just bought a rug for my front hall from Ruggable. The base is a non slip rubbery bottom with a Velcro type topping that holds down the rug that you choose from them. You can peel the top off when dirty and throw in the washing machine. I’ve only had it for a month but I LOVE it. I thought I would try it out there before investing in one for my living room. And I am very pleased with it. Definitely going for the bigger one next time. It’s worth checking out.

  2. Such great info, Lauren, thank you! I find Blesserhouse to be so well-researched and trustworthy.

    Any thoughts on bathroom rugs? I’m seeing more use of rugs other than the common synthetic washable plush with non slip backing. But maybe these are just for gracing photoshoots; impractical IRL?

    1. Yes! I prefer cotton flatweave rugs since I can just toss them in the wash whenever I need to. Wool works well too since it naturally repels water. Just don’t completely soak a wool rug, and you should be fine. 🙂

  3. Thanks for all this great information. I struggle with rugs to the point that there’s very few in my home! Not good! After reading this, I do feel more confident about choosing a rug.

  4. Great post, Lauren! It really does make a big difference when you get the correct size. I’m curious as to why you don’t recommend polypropylene rugs for kitchens and dining rooms? I figured you had a good reason! Thanks for sharing!

  5. So needed this post, because the plan is to buy a rug for our hallway. Now I know exactly what will work fir our space, and why. Thank you!

  6. We were looking for rugs for our new house. In one store the lady said beware a certain type of rug if you have cats. We had never, ever had trouble with cats & rugs before, so I didn’t pay much attention. Somewhere else we found a beautiful rug & it looked kinda like a piece of carpet. The cats did indeed destroy it. 🙁
    It was probably the most expensive rug we ever purchased! I’ve gone back to mostly polypropylene. Cats don’t seen to bother those!

    1. Oh no! I don’t have cats, so I don’t have experience with that. I’ll bet jute/seagrass is bad with cats too since they’d probably use it as a scratching area.

  7. Great post. And I’m glad to see I’ve been correct all these years! 😉 It’s hard knowing you need the next size up but spending the extra money makes a huge difference in the look of the room. Happy Fri-hi-hi-day!

  8. Wow..this a very informative guide. I’m keeping it for reference. I must admit I’m in the camp that doesn’t use rugs for the reason I just never was satisfied with the size I picked. 😗Then there is the cost. Do you still recommend Overstock for shopping for rugs. I know you research like crazy..you like doing that..me..not so much. Now with Covid in Canada our stores only do online. I like to touch and feel and really see the product. Ugh.
    Thank you for making this post.
    Be safe and healthy.
    Lorri

  9. Hi! This is timely as we are looking to replace our living room rugs. Would it be appropriate to put the exact same two rugs in a huge living room? Our living room is the entire depth of the house…you can see from the front windows straight through to the back windows. Currently we have a seating area in the back space and another seating area with TV in the front space with two different 8×10’s over our hardwoods. Thanks!

    1. Melanie, I am imagining you have a very bright and airy space for this living room. I think that if you love the rug and it matches both sitting areas you could use the same one for both.

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