How to Decorate with Area Rugs

We often hear from clients: “When it comes to decorating, I have no idea where to start!” The choices of artwork, furniture, colors, fabrics and accessories are so overwhelming that they pitch their paint swatches and vow to never watch another home makeover show again.

However, the answer is right at their feet: begin with an area rug.

Photo: Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries

Photo: Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries

Not only do area rugs provide a practical solution for cushion, comfort and warmth over a concrete, tile or wood floor, but they also create an artistic value to the room’s design. Area rugs should be used as the focal point in a room. Often considered artwork for the floor, the rug acts as the frame to create a well-balanced space.

From the rug’s design and hues, you can choose colors to paint your walls, shop for throw pillows and select paintings to complete the decor. Just make sure to follow this rule of thumb: The area rug should be a minimum of six inches and no more than two feet away from the wall. When you take into consideration the different uses, shapes and design preferences, however, other factors weigh in as well.

Photo: Gallery One

Photo credit: Gallery One

Bold patterns (large flowers, abstract designs, lots of layers or color) on a small rug can make the room look larger. But if you plan to place furniture on it, avoid covering up the design. You want to be able to see the graphic from all angles.

When designing a room with an area rug, you need to keep the room’s function and foot traffic in mind for choosing the right-sized rug and furniture placement.  We’ve included a few guidelines to help you on your magic carpet ride:

Living and Family Rooms

  • Have all of the furniture pieces in their entirety sitting on the area rug.
  • Have some of the furniture in their entirety positioned on the rug and then the couch (or grouping of chairs) sitting with their front legs on only 6” of the area rug so that most of the couch or chairs are not on the rug. This still allows for a nice grouping or conversation area.
  • In large living rooms, you can use two rugs to create two separate living areas.
  • If you prefer the rug be placed in front of the couch, it should run the same width (or a little longer) than the couch.
  • For a more interesting look, try placing the rug at an angle. It should anchor the room but not overpower or underwhelm.

Dining Rooms

Photo: Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries

Photo: Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries

  • All parts of the dining table and chairs should sit on the area rug.
  • Chairs should still sit on the rug when pulled away from the table.

 Foyers and Hallways

  • Less is more in transitional spaces or entrances that open to other rooms or a stairway.
  • The rug’s width should either match the door space or be a few inches less. Not too long, not too short.
  • If you use a round area rug in a large foyer, center it under the light fixture.
  • In a hallway, stretch the length to fill the space, leaving even space on both ends for balance.
  • If you plan to place any furniture in the hallway, keep it off the rug.

 Home Office

  • For the home office, choose a rug that completely fits both the desk and chair to create a warm space where you’ll feel comfortable at work. For practical purposes, this prevents tripping or chair dragging over the edges of the carpet.

Be sure to stay tuned to Design Time for our special e-learning series on area rugs. Coming up, we are tapping into industry insiders for their expert knowledge on everything from choosing the best quality rug to the truth of why they are so expensive.


Special thanks to our friends at Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries and Gallerie One for
sharing their valuable knowledge and imagery. Visit their websites or stop by their
stunning showrooms in the Merchandise Mart.