Decorating Basics: Area Rug 101

I freaking love area rugs. The bolder and bigger, the better. (Subtlety has never really been my thing.) Area rugs are totally awesome – but tricky to get right. Do you buy patterned rugs, or solid? How big should an area rug be? Here are some decorating basics on choosing an area rug – and what to do if your area rug is too small.

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Hey everyone, Lesley Myrick here. I’m an interior stylist and I transform boring beige spaces into pretty kickass colorful homes with an offbeat edge that are livable, delightful, and a little unexpected.

So you probably already know…area rugs, totally awesome. They’re definitely something I recommend in most spaces. Now, if you have wall-to-wall carpet with a bit of a pattern in it, you might not need an extra area rug. But, in almost any other application, layering in a rug brings in color, texture, pattern, and really becomes art for the floor. Area rugs ground a space and they can help create separate zones in a much larger room as well. So, I want to share with you a few of my quick tips for decorating with area rugs.

The first is that you want the rug large enough to leave about 18 to 24 inches of flooring around the perimeter of the room.

Now, one faux pas I see are people using these teeny-weeny postage stamp-size rugs right in front of a sofa that don’t even go under the legs of the sofa. A rug should really take up a lot more of the room than that.

Tip number 2 is that when you’re shopping for an area rug, when in doubt, go big over choosing a smaller one.

This goes back to the first tip about something that’s large enough to leave about 18 to 24 inches of flooring around the perimeter of your room. You want the area rug to feel big and important. You don’t want it to feel like a teeny little afterthought you threw in front of your sofa and hoped for the best.

Tip number 3 is that ideally you want all the legs of all your furniture on the rug,

but at the very least, the front legs of all your furniture should be on the rug so that everything feels like one cohesive grouping. If your rug isn’t big enough to be able to put at least the front legs of your sofa and chairs on it, then your rug isn’t big enough. And that actually brings me to tip number 4, which is,

you can always layer a smaller rug over top of a larger one.

Now, that might sound a little crazy, but I love the layered rug look. And an easy way to do this is if you have a smaller, patterned rug – whether it’s something funky like a cowhide or maybe just like a 5×7 beautiful patterned rug – you can layer either one of those smaller rugs over a larger sisal or seagrass rug. It still lets your rug be center stage but it gives the illusion in the room of a much larger rug taking up much larger floor space.

So, that’s my rug 101. If you don’t have great area rugs yet, definitely, definitely go out and invest in them. They are totally worth the money. They can take a space that feels kind of lackluster and really pull it all together and help it feel complete, and beautiful, and just feel like an awesome space that you want to be spending time in.

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