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Area rugs are great additions to any interior design. The right rug can complement your home decor while elevating your look with warmth and texture. Not to mention, they can protect your hardwood floors (and other floor types) from wear and tear.
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There are several different area rug types, including flatweave, low-pile, medium-pile, and high-pile rugs. The right rug for you depends on your lifestyle and aesthetic. “There are many types of rugs available on the market, and each one has its own unique set of benefits,” says Karen Rohr.
According to Amy Hoban, “Flatweave rugs are made on a loom and can be very slim and flat, which makes them easy to clean and maintain.” However, because they’re so thin, you shouldn’t expect them to offer much cushioning underfoot.
But what you lose in cushioning, you can make up for in maintenance. “They are easier to clean [than other area rug types].” says Amy Youngblood. They also tend to be among the most affordable rugs, thanks to their thin, lightweight design.
Low and Medium Pile
If you’re looking to add a rug to a high-traffic area, such as a kitchen rug, you can’t go wrong with a low-pile rug. “Low pile rugs are made with shorter and tighter loops,” says Amy Hoban. “They have a smooth surface and are great for high-traffic areas as they’re easy to clean.”
Low-pile rugs also tend to be a bit thicker than flatweaves, so they’re a good option if you want the lower maintenance of a flatweave but you don’t want something quite so thin.
High Pile, Plush and Shag
High-pile, plush, and shag rugs are all known for being thick, soft, and comfy, so they feel great on bare feet. “High-pile rugs are made with taller and looser loops and can add lots of texture to cozy spaces like a living room or bedroom,” says Amy Hoban. However, all of this comfort does come with some drawbacks in the maintenance department.
According to Kevin Francis O’Gara, “High-pile, plush, and shag rugs provide the most cushion, but are the hardest to clean as dirt and crumbs get buried in the pile.” This makes them “better suited for low-traffic areas like bedrooms where they are less likely to attract spills or outside dirt.”
This 35% cotton and 65% wool rug features clean lines and a neutral hue that will elevate any bedroom with structure and style. It’s also handwoven in India and made in a Fair-Trade-certified factory.
According to Amy Hoban, “The Ladder Stripe Rug is a great statement piece that plays well with the furniture and decor in almost any room. This chunky, wool cable rug has a bold, asymmetrical line design and subtle wool fringe. I love pairing this one with bold-colored furniture pieces.”
If you don’t want great style to come at the expense of hurting the environment, then you’ll love this eco-friendly area rug from Burrow. It’s made with 100% recycled polyester using traditional weaving techniques from Burrow’s network of India-based weaving houses.
Speaking of weaves, the rug’s flatweave is a pro at resisting stains, snags, and tears, so it’s an ideal fit for busy households with kids and pets running around. And the two neutral gray hues it comes in will truly look great with just about any look.
This Persian-inspired low-pile area rug comes with a rug pad so it’ll stay put, and its stunning look is a perfect match for a boho-chic interior. But it’s plenty versatile, so it can go just as well with other aesthetics, such as traditional, Scandinavian, or minimal.
According to Karen Rohr, “The Kamran Coral Rug is a perfect one for any traditional or bohemian aesthetic. One thing that I love is the durability and convenience as it is washable and perfect for families.”
That’s right—not only is this area rug gorgeous, but it’s also machine washable, like all of Ruggable’s area rugs. “When it comes to durability, Ruggable is always our top choice. For kid- and pet-friendly homes, they have a lot of great options,” said Rozit Arditi.
Ruggable isn’t the only brand with gorgeous washable rugs. This power-loomed rug from Revival Rugs is also machine washable and stain-resistant, making it ideal for high-traffic areas and busy lifestyles.
It features a medium-pile design made out of 100% recycled polyester, creating an eco-friendly rug out of synthetic fibers. And it’s OEKO-TEX certified, which means it’s been tested and proven to be free of harmful levels of toxic substances.
Materials: 100% recycled polyester
Sizes available: 3'11" x 6'1", 5'3" x 7'10", 5'11" x 9', 7'10" x 10', 8'9" x 12', 9'9" x 13'11", 2'7" x 9', 2'11" x 11'11"
Handcrafted from 100% wool, this high-pile rug features a subtle Moroccan motif and ultra-soft design that will instantly make any living room cozier. According to Amber Lewis, “The Gwyneth offers a series of understated neutrals in a soft pile that feels at once refined and relaxed.”
And if you like high-quality area rugs at a reasonable price, you can check out other rugs from Loloi as well. “Loloi offers so many different styles and colors at a medium price point,” says Amy Youngblood. “You can find some beautiful wool area rugs on their website.”
Materials: 100% wool
Sizes available: 2'-0" x 3'-0", 2'-9" x 8'-0", 4'-0" x 6'-0", 2'-9" x 12'-0", 6'-0" x 9'-0", 8'-0" x 10'-0", 8'-6" x 12', 10'-0" x 14'-0", 11'-6" x 15'
Rugs with busier, bolder patterns are great for high-traffic areas, like the kitchen, entryway, and living room, because they’re typically better at concealing stains than area rugs with solid hues.
“I love that the shape is unconventional and unexpected."
This beauty from Anthropologie fits the bill perfectly, and it’s sure to make a striking statement anywhere it lives. “I love that the shape is unconventional and unexpected,” says Karen Rohr. “It's also a good area rug for high-traffic areas.”
Materials: Tufted wool
Sizes available: 2’ x 3’, 3’ x 5’, 2.5' x 9', 5’ x 8’, 8’ x 10’, 9’ x 12’
This is another statement-making area rug that will bring a bold, modern touch to any design. “Inspired by the Moroccan encaustic tiles, this geometric rug style is a piece that will help create a statement,” raves Karen Rohr.
The striking black-and-white design will complement a variety of color schemes, and its low-pile design makes it very low maintenance. Plus, the rug’s yarn is hand-knotted with 15 knots per square inch, so it’s ultra-durable and will hold up well in high-traffic areas.
Gorgeous and eco-friendly, this outdoor rug is exactly what you want to have underfoot in any outdoor space. It’s made from 100% recycled PET plastics, which not only makes it sustainable but also durable since PET plastics are naturally stain-resistant and they won’t fade in the sun.
Of course, the area rug is also beautiful, comprising a palette of colors that will shield dirt like a pro but rocking an overall neutral hue that will truly look great anywhere. And all you have to do to keep this outdoor rug looking great is occasionally vacuum it and give it a good scrub.
This 100% jute rug will add equal parts texture and warmth to your hallway all the while protecting your floors. Jute is also known for being thick and durable, so it’s stellar for high-traffic areas like busy hallways.
The area rug comes in eight different sizes and eight colors, ranging from cream and tan to sage and burnt orange, so finding the right complement to your color scheme should be a breeze.
If you have pets at home, then you don’t need us to tell you how tough it can be to protect your rugs from cute but dirty little paws. But you won’t have to worry about protecting this area rug since you can just throw it in the washing machine whenever it gets dirty.
In addition to being machine washable, the rug comes in eight hues, with each rocking a Moroccan-inspired diamond pattern that will effortlessly conceal dirt between washes.
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What You Need to Know to Choose the Best Area Rug for Your Space
How Big Should an Area Rug Be?
The right size for your area rug depends on your needs and space. For instance, if you’re looking for doormats, then you probably only need two to three square feet. But if you want to fill a large space with style, then you’ll need a larger area rug for the job.
But just how large? According to Karen Rohr, “The general rule of thumb is that the rug should be large enough to extend beyond the perimeter of the furniture in the room. For example, if you have a coffee table and two armchairs in your living room, the rug should be big enough to accommodate all pieces of furniture.”
“The general rule of thumb is that the rug should be large enough to extend beyond the perimeter of the furniture in the room."
Using this technique provides definition for your design: “This will help create a border that defines the space and prevents the furniture from floating in the middle of the room.”
When contemplating new rugs for your space, it’s always best to take measurements, but “Common sizes are 8x10 or 9x12,” says Amy Youngblood. “If you want to fill up a large space with an area rug, there should be about 18 inches of bare flooring between the edge of the rug and the wall.”
How to Match a Rug to Your Interior Design Style
Area rugs offer a world of possibilities when it comes to complementing your interior design. “If you already have a good amount of color in your space,” suggests Amy Youngblood, “opt for a more neutral rug. If you have a more neutral color scheme, find one with bolder colors in it.” This approach can provide eye-catching contrast to your design while making it feel more dynamic and defined.
An area rug is also a great way to add personality to a subdued or pared-back look. “If you’re more of a minimalist,” says Amy Hoban, “a rug can provide a nice pop of color and add some texture to the space.”
Regardless of your aesthetic leanings, it never hurts to “invest in a classic, well-made rug that can remain the same as your home decor evolves,” says Kevin Francis O’Gara. “Moroccan rugs tend to be more graphic and contemporary, while Turkish rugs are more detailed and traditional.” Meanwhile, Persian rugs have high knot counts that can make them incredibly durable. But the right rug for your space is one that looks great while meeting your unique lifestyle needs.
The last thing you want to do is invest in a beautiful new rug only to find that it falls apart or shows wear and tear much sooner than you’d expect. Fortunately, you can avoid these pitfalls by ensuring you invest in a high-quality area rug.
Amy Youngblood recommends that you, “look at the knots per square inch,” to determine quality. “The higher the number of knots, the higher the quality.” You should also, “Examine the construction of the rug,” advises Karen Rohr. “Make sure that the seams are tight and that the backing is securely attached.”
Another quality indicator is how the rug is made. According to Kevin Francis O’Gara, “High-quality rugs are handmade, so look for labels like “hand-knotted” and “hand-tufted” to distinguish these artisan products.”
Finally, consider the materials the area rug is made out of. “Natural materials increase the quality of the rug, such as wool, silk, and cotton,” says O’Gara.
Kelly Weimert is a writer, editor, and interior design expert with 10 years of experience writing about design and home decor. She's written for interior design publications such as MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, Domino Magazine, and Hunker. When she's not writing or editing, she's probably busy obsessing over how to beautify her home.
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