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How to Buy a Living Room Rug Without Wasting Your Money (2024 Edition)

Updated: Mar 20

An area rug is a major investment. It's frustrating to see your hard-earned money go to waste when you end up with the wrong rug that you desperately want to replace.

Interestingly, many people tend to overlook the importance of an area rug when designing their living room. But here's the ironic truth: it's actually the opposite!

Choosing the right rug for your living room shouldn't be an afterthought. It's a key design element that immediately catches everyone's attention as soon as they step into the room. It has a significant impact on the overall vibe and feel of the space.

So, how do you go about selecting the perfect rug for your living room? Don't worry, I've got you covered. In this guide, I'll take you through three easy steps, sharing useful tips and things to avoid, so that you can confidently make the right decision and pat yourself on the back.


Table Of Contents:


the Rug Size and Shape

Before we figure out the right size for your rug, let's decide where you want to place it in your living room.

There are 3 common ways on how you can place your rug.

SETup 1) All furniture legs on the rug

Suggested Rug Sizes

  • 10' x 14' (300cm x 420cm)

  • 12' x 15' (360cm x 450cm)

Suitable for large, spacious, and open-concept living rooms with floating furniture.

In this particular setup, the large rug serves as the foundation for the furniture arrangement, with all the legs of the furniture resting on top of it. This configuration creates a well-defined seating area, effectively pulling all the furniture pieces together. By encompassing the furniture in this way, the rug fosters a cozy and inviting conversation zone, encouraging a warm and comfortable atmosphere in the living room.

It also provides the best protection to the hardwood floor from the furniture above.

Useful Tips:

  • Leave at least 18" of floor space around the rug and the wall. This gap creates a layer of visual contrast to the room.

  • If possible, leave around 10" to 12" between the back of the furniture to the edge of the rug.

SETUP 2) Half on, half-off

Suggested Rug Sizes:

  • 8' x 10' (240cm x 300cm)

  • 9' x 12' (275cm x 365cm)

Among the three arrangements, the one where only the front legs of the sofa, armchairs, and side tables (if present) rest on the rug is indeed the most common. This setup is versatile and works well in living rooms of all sizes, including those with seating pieces placed against the wall.

By selecting the right rug for this arrangement, you can effectively define your seating area and establish a visual connection between all the furniture pieces in the room. The rug acts as a unifying element, bringing cohesiveness to the space and creating a harmonious layout. Whether you have a compact living room or a spacious one, this arrangement offers both functionality and aesthetic appeal.

Useful Tip:

  • The edge of the rug should not exceed the front half of the seating piece

setup 3) No Legs On (Coffee table only)

Suggested Rug Sizes:

5' x 8' (150cm x 240cm)

6' x 9' (180cm x 270cm)

This particular setup is ideal if you're looking for a budget-friendly option or if you want to showcase more of your flooring.

In this arrangement, the rug is placed solely underneath the coffee table, while the legs of all other furniture pieces rest on the bare flooring.

By adopting this approach, the area rug serves as a subtle decorative element that doesn't overpower the overall design of the room. It adds a touch of style and complements the furniture and upholstery without demanding excessive attention. Therefore, when selecting a rug for this setup, it's essential to choose a design that harmonizes with the rest of the furniture and upholstery, ensuring it blends seamlessly without being overly eye-catching.

This way, the rug enhances the room's aesthetics while maintaining a cohesive and balanced look.

Useful Tip:

  • Leave about 4" to 6" between each seating piece and the rug.

How to Find the Right Rug Size Suitable for Your Space?

Before making a final decision on the size of your rug, we highly recommend using masking tape to outline the desired rug placement on the floor. This method allows you to visualize the rug's position accurately and provides an opportunity to measure each side or the perimeter of the taped area carefully. By doing so, you can obtain precise measurements that will guide you in selecting the most suitable rug size for your living room.

Additionally, using masking tape to outline the rug placement helps identify any potential interference with other objects in the room, such as doors, display shelves, or columns. This step ensures that the chosen rug size fits harmoniously within the space without causing any hindrances or disruptions.

In situations where you're torn between two similar rug sizes, it's generally recommended to opt for the larger one. A slightly larger rug creates an optical illusion, making the room appear more spacious. On the other hand, selecting a smaller rug can have the opposite effect, making the room feel cramped and disproportionate.

Sometimes, finding the right rug size among the standard options available in carpet shops can be challenging. In such cases, customizing your own area rug becomes an excellent option. This allows you to create something unique and perfectly tailored to your living room, ensuring it suits your specific requirements and preferences.

Need assistance with rugs? We've got you covered from start to finish, even if you're a novice! Contact us today and let us help you find the perfect rug.

Choose Your Materials and Designs

After determining the appropriate size, it's time to focus on selecting the right material for your living room rug.

The choice of material depends on several factors, including the room's traffic, your budget, the individuals using the space (pets, children, elderly, etc.), and the desired ease of cleaning and maintenance.

It's important to note that there is no definitive "best" fiber. Instead, opt for the material that best suits your specific needs and preferences.

Keep in mind that each material has its advantages and disadvantages. The following chart provides a general reference to compare characteristics of each material:

When it comes to the pattern or design of your rug, personal taste, lifestyle, and how well it complements your room's walls and furniture are essential factors to consider. Here are some helpful tips to narrow down your options:

  1. Light Color Palette: A rug with light colors can create an illusion of a larger room. However, keep in mind that stains and dirt may be more visible on lighter rugs.

  2. Dark Color Palette: On the contrary, a rug with darker colors can make the room feel cozy and intimate. Dark-colored rugs are also better at hiding stains and dirt.

  3. Coordinate with Furniture and Wall Colors: Matching your rug with the colors of your furniture and walls helps unify the overall theme of the room. Consider complementary or harmonizing colors to achieve a cohesive look.

  4. Consider Existing Patterns: If your upholstery already features busy patterns, opt for a rug with a geometric or simple design. This will prevent overwhelming visual clutter and maintain a balanced aesthetic.

  5. Feminine and Timeless Designs: For a more feminine touch and long-lasting appeal, consider rugs with floral, branch, or leaf patterns. Persian or oriental rugs are known for their vibrant colors and timeless elegance.

Remember, the rug's pattern should enhance the room's overall aesthetics and reflect your personal style. Take your time to explore different options and select a design that resonates with you and your living room's ambiance.

Choosing the right Rug Thickness

Why rug thickness matters? Because it affects how you feel with bare feet, how easy to clean, and the durability of your area rug.

Rug thickness, also known as pile height, plays a crucial role in determining how the rug feels underfoot, its ease of cleaning, and its overall durability. Let's explore the differences between high and low pile rugs:

  1. High Pile Rugs: High pile rugs have longer, thicker fibers or loops, creating a plush and luxurious feel. They offer a soft and cushioned surface underfoot, providing a cozy and comfortable experience. High pile rugs are excellent for areas where you want extra warmth and comfort, such as bedrooms or cozy living spaces. However, they tend to be more challenging to clean and may trap dirt and debris more easily.

  2. Low Pile Rugs: Low pile rugs have shorter, tightly woven fibers or loops, resulting in a flatter and smoother surface. They are easier to clean and maintain as they are less likely to trap dirt and are more resistant to wear and tear. Low pile rugs are a practical choice for high-traffic areas like hallways, entryways, or dining rooms. They also work well in homes with pets, as they are less prone to snagging or trapping pet hair.

The choice between high and low pile rugs depends on your personal preferences, the specific room's function, and your cleaning requirements. High pile rugs offer a plush and comfortable feel but require more maintenance, while low pile rugs offer easier cleaning and enhanced durability, albeit with a firmer underfoot sensation.

It's worth noting that there are also medium pile rugs available, striking a balance between the two options. These rugs provide a blend of comfort and practicality, making them suitable for a variety of living spaces.


How to choose an area rug for a small living room?

If you have a small, narrow living room in your apartment, there are specific considerations to keep in mind when placing an area rug. Here are some tips:

  1. Half Legs On or No Legs On: In a narrow living room, consider using either the half legs on or no legs on method mentioned earlier. This means either having only the front legs of the furniture on the rug or placing the rug solely under the coffee table. These arrangements can help create a visually open and uncluttered space.

  2. Proportional Size: Ensure that the rug's size is proportionate to the overall size of the living room, not just the coffee table. The rug should adequately cover the seating area, providing a sense of coherence and defining the space. If opting for the no legs on arrangement, leave approximately 6 inches of space in front of each seating piece.

  3. Design Choice: When selecting a rug design for a small living room, choose patterns that create an illusion of spaciousness. Stripes, textures, or simple patterns can make the room appear larger and more open. Alternatively, a plain color shaggy rug can bring a sense of calmness and warmth to the living room.

By following these guidelines, you can optimize your small living room's layout and choose a rug design that enhances the room's aesthetics while creating an inviting and comfortable ambiance.


How to choose area rugs for an open floor plan?

In an open-plan space without walls to delineate different zones, rugs become vital in defining each area's purpose. When purchasing area rugs for an open plan layout, a common approach is to use two distinct rugs—one for the conversation area and another for the dining table—to clearly establish separate spaces.

To create a cohesive and unified look, it is advisable to select rugs that share a similar color palette or design. This harmonizes the overall atmosphere of both areas, ensuring they visually complement each other. By coordinating the rugs in this manner, you can maintain a sense of continuity and balance throughout the open-plan space.

Consider the overall style and aesthetic you wish to achieve, while also taking into account the specific needs and functions of each area. By carefully selecting rugs that harmonize in color and design, you can effectively define and enhance each space within the open-plan layout.

Rugs for Open Floor Plan
Photo Creadit : Bayview Valley

Choosing a Rug for an odd-shaped living room

Finding the right rug for an oddly shaped living room can be a difficult task, as not all living spaces have the convenience of being perfectly square or rectangular.

When dealing with these irregular room shapes, the key lies in rearranging the furniture strategically to divert attention from the imbalanced corners. By creating focal points or shifting the furniture layout, you can redirect the visual focus and create a more harmonious atmosphere within the room.

Consider incorporating an asymmetrical rug into the space. This type of rug can complement the irregular shape of the room, aligning with its contours and enhancing its unique character.

Another option is to mix and match carpet tiles. Carpet tiles provide flexibility in shaping and sizing, allowing you to create a custom rug that fits the room's irregular shape. Experiment with different tile combinations to add visual interest and create a unique pattern.

Alternatively, you can explore the use of cowhide rugs in the seating area. Cowhide rugs often come in irregular shapes, which can complement the odd shape of the room. Their distinctive patterns can also introduce a touch of natural texture and enhance the visual appeal of the space.

When working with an oddly shaped living room, embrace the room's uniqueness and think creatively. By considering alternative rug options and utilizing innovative solutions, you can transform the irregular shape into a feature that adds character and charm to your living area.

Carpet Tiles
Photo Credit : Carpet Mart Japan

To create a new focal point in the center of the room, consider placing a rug with a busy design such as Oriental or Persian style.

Alongside this eye-catching rug, incorporate other large decorative pieces such as paintings, mirrors, and plants. This arrangement will draw attention to the center of the room, establishing a captivating focal point that adds visual interest and enhances the overall aesthetics.

Oddly Shaped Living Room Idea
Photo Creadit : Probably This
Oddly shaped Living Room Rug
Photo Credit : Pinterest
Oddly Shaped Room
Photo Credit : Pinterest

Should I get a rug if I have pets?

Before purchasing a rug for your living room when you have a four-legged friend, it's important to consider some advice:

  1. Opt for Low Pile Rugs: Choose rugs with low pile fibers such as handtufted, flatweaves, or carpet tiles. Avoid shaggy or fur-like area rugs as high pile fibers tend to trap dust, mud, and pet hair more easily. Cleaning becomes more challenging when these particles get stuck within the long fibers. Additionally, low pile rugs reduce the risk of your pet's claws or teeth getting caught, preventing potential injuries.

  2. Avoid Rugs with Fringes: Be cautious of rugs that have fringes. These fringes can pose a danger to pets with long nails as they may get tangled in them. Dogs and bunnies also have a tendency to chew on fringes, leading to significant damage to the rug. It's best to choose rugs without fringes to ensure the safety of your furry friends.

By selecting low pile rugs and avoiding those with fringes, you can create a pet-friendly environment in your living room while maintaining the durability and cleanliness of your chosen rug.

Dog Chewing Rug Fringes
Photo Credit : American Kennel Club

Materials -

When choosing a rug for your living room, it's important to prioritize durability, ease of cleaning, and stain resistance. Here are some material options to consider:

  1. Natural Fibers: If you prefer natural fibers, wool and cotton are excellent choices. They are relatively easy to clean, and wool has the advantage of lanolin—a natural coating that acts as a barrier against liquids and dirt. However, it's worth noting that these materials can be more expensive compared to synthetic fibers. Additionally, while jute and sisal (also natural fibers) are great for trapping dirt and sand, they require more effort to remove liquid stains such as urine or vomit.

  2. Synthetic Fibers: Nylon, polypropylene, and polyester are synthetic fibers that offer several advantages. They are easy to clean, highly durable, and some are even washable. Rugs made from synthetic yarns are generally more affordable to replace than those made from natural fibers if a serious mishap occurs.

Consider your priorities and budget when deciding between natural and synthetic fibers. Natural fibers provide a luxurious feel and certain benefits, but synthetic fibers offer practicality, affordability, and easy maintenance.

Ultimately, choose a rug material that suits your lifestyle and pet-friendly requirements, ensuring you have a durable and stain-resistant option that can withstand the presence of your four-legged friend in the living room.

Color / Pattern -

Contrary to popular belief, selecting dark-colored rugs is not necessarily the best way to hide pet hair. Instead, the key lies in finding a rug with a color palette that matches your pet's fur. For instance, a light-colored rug works well for concealing light-colored pet hair, while a darker rug can effectively hide darker pet hair.

In addition, choosing rugs with busy and detailed patterns can help minimize the visibility of dirt and stains. The intricate patterns create visual distractions, making it less likely for minor stains to catch the eye. However, it's important to note that this approach may make it harder to notice urine or vomit stains until you step on them.

Consider your pet's fur color and the likelihood of accidents when selecting the color and pattern of your rug. By aligning the rug's color with your pet's fur and opting for busy patterns, you can effectively camouflage pet hair and minimize the visibility of dirt and stains in your living room.

Cleaning / Maintenence -

Indeed, when you have a pet, regular vacuuming becomes crucial to maintain a clean living environment. Pet hair, dander, and allergens can accumulate in the rug fibers, making frequent vacuuming necessary to keep them under control. Additionally, it is advisable to hire a professional carpet cleaner at least once a year to tackle the deep-seated allergens that may be hidden within the rug fibers. Professional cleaning can help ensure a thorough removal of these allergens, promoting a healthier indoor environment.

When it comes to cleaning products, it's important to be cautious. Many chemical rug cleaners available in supermarkets may contain ingredients that can be harmful to both your pet and the rug itself. It is recommended to steer clear of such products to avoid any potential risks. Instead, consider using pet-friendly and non-toxic cleaning solutions specifically designed for rugs or seek professional rug cleaning services that utilize safe and environmentally friendly cleaning methods.

By maintaining a regular vacuuming routine, scheduling professional cleanings, and opting for pet-friendly cleaning solutions, you can effectively keep your rug clean and free from harmful chemicals, ensuring the well-being of both your pet and your rug.

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