How to Choose the Best Rug and Carpet Designs: 4 Key Tips

Today we're talking about carpet design rules, the sizes, materials, styles, and what you should and shouldn't be doing. It seems that everyone has questions about carpet interior design lately, and it's one of the things that seem to stump you the most. So let's dive in and take a look at how I rug designs for my projects.

Choosing a rug for a room

1. Style

The first consideration when selecting your rug should be style. If you're looking for a more traditional style in a traditional room, then you're probably going to be selecting a vintage or Persian-style rug.

If the look you're going for is more contemporary or modern, you'll probably be looking at stripes, geometrics, or bold patterns.

Boho-style room with a jute rug

Now, maybe bohemian is more your thing, so you're probably going to be looking for a more natural rug, like a sisal or a jute, perhaps.

But maybe what you want is eclectic. Well, then a cowhide would most likely fit that bill.

Living room with a colorful rug

2. Color palette

Your next consideration will be the color palette. Are you looking for a warmer palette rug, like warm grays, sunset oranges, golds, or beige? Or, are you looking for a cooler palette rug, like blue, perhaps?

If you're looking for something more neutral, you’ll want to consider texture as well as color for neutrality's sake. The texture is what will give your neutral rug interest.

Blue rug in a minimalist living room

3. Materials

The next consideration when selecting your rug is going to be material. The right material can be determined based on where the rug is being used, the traffic patterns it will undergo in that location, and the look you are trying to create.

Wool rug

Luxury materials

So let's start with the most luxurious, our wools and silks. These are expensive, but their beauty is unmatched. They are incredibly durable, but they do not clean well. They are going to absorb spills and natural wear and tear, like dirt from shoes and dirty feet.

They do, however, give you such a luxurious look, and in more formal rooms, this is where I suggest you go with wools and silks as your top material choice.

Rugs made of natural fibers

Casual materials

The next one is a more casual type of rug. So this is still a natural fiber, a jute or a sisal. They are incredibly hard-wearing, great for high-traffic areas, and great for cottages.

They are inexpensive but not easily cleaned, however. Once they're done, you replace them and they do not hold up well to water at all. So spills are going to be a problem with these natural fibers found in sisals or jutes.

Soft polyester rug

Polyester rugs

Our next option is a polyester. Now these are great for lower-traffic areas. They're inexpensive, they're incredibly soft, and they probably feel the most like wool. However, they are easily flattened.

Wherever there's a lot of foot traffic, the fibers are going to flatten down and look dirty very quickly because you wind up seeing the gray undertone of the underbinding of the carpet.

Synthetic rug

Synthetic rugs

Our next option is a synthetic rug. This is the material of choice in high-traffic areas, like stair runners and family rooms. Anywhere where there's a lot of traffic, kids, pets, and stains, this is the material of choice. It is made to be stain and water-resistant for the most part.

They are not that expensive, they last a long time, they are available in all sizes, and they are quite inexpensive.

Hide rug

Hide rugs

The final category is one of my favorites, hides. The higher the price tag, the better the quality.

Now I've been asked how there can be a difference in quality between one cow and another. It is not the cow itself that's giving you the quality, it is how the product is being treated and the processes it goes through to get the softness that you're looking for without the scent of dairy.

The only caveat with cow hides that I caution you is they do not do well with water, particularly the less expensive ones. So they should not be in an area that's going to see a lot of foot traffic from rain and snow.

Small rug

4. Size

The final piece of the puzzle when selecting carpets is size. Now, let's break down carpet size into two categories. Typical sizes for store-bought area rugs would be 3 x 5, 4 x 6, 5 x 7, and 8 x 10. Occasionally, you will find 7 x 9, 10 x 12, 10 x 13, 11 x 14, and 12 x 15 area rugs as well.

The next category would be your broadlooms, which are wall-to-wall products that can be cut to size. Now let's talk about how to size them.

Rug in a dining room

Dining room

In the dining room, I like to see a minimum of 2½ feet larger than the table. The reason for that 2½ feet is that you want to make sure that when someone pulls the chair out, the chair still sits on carpeting so that there's not that awkward moment of the back legs are off the carpet and the front legs are on it, which does not create a very good stability for the chair.

Rug in a family room

Family room

If we go to the family room, my preference is to leave a border of about 12 to 14 inches of actual wood flooring showing underneath your carpeting.

Rug in the bedroom


If you're going to be putting carpeting in your bedroom, I like the width of my carpeting to be the same as the width of one end of my nightstand with the bed to the other end.

This way it sits directly in front of the nightstand by a couple of inches and it spans the entire width of that furniture. And then I like to have at least 3 feet minimum in front of the bed.

How to choose the best rug for your home

Rug and carpet design

I hope some of your carpet design questions were answered today. Choosing the rug designs that will work best in your space is made simple by following these best practices.

What types of rugs are your most and least favorite? Share your opinion in the comments below.

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