Tips For Choosing an Area Rug

Area rugs are one of the most marvelous home decor elements ever created. What other furnishing provides warmth for a cold floor, gives a certain mood to a room, or even acts as an art object?

As if these benefits weren't enough, area rugs are one of the wisest investments in home decor you can make in these turbulent economic times.

The right area rug imparts a new character to a room without requiring a complete makeover. With all the sizes, colors, and design options available, there is an area rug for any style at any price.

In fact, you could literally consider the floor covering as the basis for your home's entire design scheme. A wisely chosen area rug, whether made by machine or by hand with natural or synthetic fibers, fills practical needs such as warmth and noise reduction while anchoring the design of the room as a whole.

Here are some of the top tips for choosing an area rug:

  • Think first about how the room is used. How much traffic does it get? Who will see the rug, and how will the rug's colors or patterns show in the room's lighting?
  • Rugs with a good combination of density and fiber will wear best. Rugs with tighter tufting or stitches will last longer.
  • Good padding is essential. It reduces rug wear, improves vacuuming, and absorbs noise and traffic impact.
  • Think color. Rugs don't have to mirror the colors in furniture upholstery or window treatments. Instead, they can complement those colors. Remember that rugs in lighter colors will make rooms seem larger, while rugs in deeper colors will make a room feel cozier.
  • Don't make the common mistake of choosing a rug that's too small for the room. In most rooms, calculate a border of 18 to 36 inches around the rug's edge.
  • For a dining room rug, add four feet to the width and length of your dining table, and continue adding until you reach the recommended border range.
  • Fit a hall runner so that it's within four inches of the hall's width. Keep the length within 18 to 24 inches of the hall's length.
  • Finally, the best tip for choosing a quality area rug is to learn something about the rugs themselves. So many fabulous styles are available today that a little homework can solve the confusion and steer you in the direction of your perfect rug.

Here are some guidelines for types of rugs:

Hand Hooked:

These rugs are made by pushing yarn through the back of a canvas cloth to make a design.

Hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers often can find kits to make hand-hooked rugs in hobby supply stores. The rug is finished with a protective backing.


This type of rug is made on looms that are controlled by hand, machine, and today, computers! Examples of this type of reversible rug are dhurries, Kilims and Spanish Berbers.

Braided Rugs:

The techniques for these rugs were handed down from American colonialists who needed to get maximum use from every resource. The first braided rugs were made out of strips from leftover fabric, worn-out blankets, seed bags, canvas, and just about any material that could be braided and then sewn together.

Bamboo and Sisal:

These natural-fiber area rugs are wonderfully durable, making them excellent choices for high-traffic areas. Bamboo is one of the world's most renewable resources, so it's good for the environment as well.

Persian and Oriental Rugs:

These are the top-of-the-line choices when it comes to area rugs, and one of the options where serious study and perhaps even professional help are recommended. These rugs usually become family heirlooms, so learn as much as you can and consult recommended sources before purchasing.

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