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How to Use an Area Rug

How to Use an Area Rug

You’ve spotted a stunningly styled area rug and you have to have it. Now what? Where does it go, how will it look and when does it make sense to put it down in a room? We at Pottery Barn are here to help! We work with area rugs all the time and are happy to share that area rug rules are meant to be broken. The following tips will clear your confusion when choosing a rug.


Unify Furniture

An area rug ties a group of furnishings together. This way, your pieces won’t look like they’re placed randomly around the room. If it looks like you have some floating furnishings, by all means, use an area rug to connect the various pieces. An area rug in a dining room brings visual organization and comfort. When you walk into this room and see the table and every chair on a well-proportioned area rug, they’ll look cohesive – even if every chair is a different style or color. Here’s a tip for your dining room: make sure there’s ample area rug behind the chairs. Go for 24" or more of carpet so you can pull out chairs without tripping on the edge of the rug.


Define a Space

An area rug instantly defines a zone in a room. For example, sizing several rugs for a living room of any size will help you define different sitting areas in the space. Living rooms typically have linear furnishings such as sofas and love seats. They typically look best with a square or rectangular area rug that sits under all of the legs of furniture. It helps to study images of a living room with area rugs in various positions. You can see how professionals use rugs to define a space. Further set off a space by layering another smaller accent rug on top of the area rug. This can anchor a coffee table in the living room.


Decide on Contrast

Choose an area rug that closely matches the color and tone of your wood (or tile) floor. Or, go for one that completely contrasts with the flooring material. Each of these choices brings a different appearance to a room. A closely matched solid-color area rug is calming to the eye. It gives the space some subtle definition. A vibrant, contrasting area rug can make the space seem more compact. However, it livens up and energizes the room, too. 


Size for Balance and Proportion

The size of your area rug will help determine how it balances the room and keeps a sense of proportion. Area rugs come as runners (2' wide, 9' long), round (6' and 8' diameters), custom (up to 13' wide and 15' long) and small to large squares and rectangles (from 3' by 5' up to 10' by 14').


In the bedroom, for example, extend an area rug at least 18" around the sides and foot of the bed. This visually balances the space. It also keeps your feet well cushioned. A rug that the bed completely covers doesn’t make much sense. But a small area rug placed at the foot of the bed adds a layer of texture and warmth to the space.


Expose the Floor

One traditional rule about area rugs is to leave about 18" of bare flooring around the rug. You’ll also want to have the same amount of flooring between the edge of the rug and the walls. This ensures you have pleasing proportion in a large room. For smaller rooms, expose about half of that amount around the rug or from the rug’s edge to the wall. Remember that putting the edge of an area rug too close to the wall may look like you were short on carpet for the entire room. The same concept applies to kitchens and entryways – and just about anywhere you use an area rug.


As with wall-to-wall carpeting, area rugs need rug pads underneath. This protects the floor, prolongs the life of the piece and keeps the rug in place. A pad also keeps rugs smooth and makes vacuuming easier. The rug pad holds the rug in place, especially when you’re cleaning the bare floor surrounding the rug.


Break the Rules

Solve your question about how to move heavy furniture on carpet by using area rugs underneath your bigger pieces. Layering an area rug on carpet adds a sense of depth, especially in a large space where there’s an expanse of wall-to-wall carpet. You can also place a smaller wool accent rug on top of a larger natural fiber rug to create a highly textured, inviting floor.


Are you ready to warm up any space with a rug? Use these tips to add beautiful color and texture to your floors.