How to Pick the Perfect Rug
Dear Floyd is back for May! This month, Floyd does the research on rugs so you don’t have to. Don’t forget that Dear Floyd is here to answer your questions about life, home, and all the complicated stuff in between. Send your pressing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and check back every month to see whether you made it into the latest column.
Q: I can’t find a good rug for my living room! I’m overwhelmed by the options, frankly, and I can’t figure out how to choose one that doesn’t clash with all the other rugs in my house. What should I look for in a rug if I want something durable and also nice looking? I don’t even know where to start.
While they’re (hopefully) soft to the touch, the right rugs can be quite hard to find. In the age of modern e-commerce, there are so many options, and so many sizes, and so many colors to choose from. Getting the perfect carpet can feel as improbable as said carpet taking off and flying away. But we’re here to help. We’ve done some research on rugs so you don’t have to — here’s what to look for:
Start by figuring out what size rug you’ll need. There are some traditional rules that can help with this. For bedrooms, a rug should extend at least 18” on either side of a bed. In seating areas, your rug should be big enough that the front two feet (at least) of each furniture piece are on the rug, not the floor. In dining rooms, you’ll want 24” of clearance behind your pushed in dining chairs to avoid snagging them on the edge of the carpet. These measurements are typically used by designers who want to create a certain balance of scale in a space, and of course, you don’t have to follow them exactly. Generally, though, a too-small rug will look really strange, and it’s worth it to go for the right size even if it feels a little extravagant.
Material should be your second consideration. Rugs vary widely and materials make a huge difference in your ability to clean and care for such a high-traffic piece! You need to think about the location and use of your rug. If it’s a hallway, main living room, kitchen, or somewhere else with tons of repeated use, you might want to go for a synthetic, flat weave. Synthetics are great for pet owners — they tend to resist stains and claw marks much better than natural, more delicate fibers. A flatwoven rug is easier to clean, with less opportunity for spills and odors to stick. A clue that a rug is synthetic & very durable is when it’s listed as “indoor/outdoor.”
When it comes to natural fiber rugs, expect to pay more. But, if softness and pile are important to you (pile is the density of the fibers, from flat to plush), natural is the way to go! Wool is a good option for durability; it is naturally odor and stain-resistant. A silk rug will be heavenly soft, but is best for places in your home that don’t see muddy shoes or pets. Most vintage carpets are made from natural fibers, and can be a good compromise if you like the look of a natural fiber but worry about ruining something brand new and expensive.
Now for the hardest part: picking a rug that matches all the other rugs in your house! Tasks like this are why people hire interior designers. But it’s not as difficult as you’d think. Take inventory of what you already have and note the dominant colors. You might prefer the warmer tones of oriental rugs (pinks, reds, purples), or like a neutral, modern look (greys, creams, beiges). If you can discern an overarching color scheme in your home, stick within that zone for your next rug! If you’re looking for some variation, try picking a pattern that is small in scale (for example, thin stripes) but in your main color. If you want to go bold, try choosing a large-scale pattern that has accents of your color, and let the pattern bring in some new tones to your space.
With all of this in mind, it’s time to shop! If you’re looking for something unique, check out brands like Block Shop Textiles, Morrow Soft Goods, and Nordic Knots. eBay and Etsy are a treasure trove of affordable vintage carpets. And for something simple, we have to give credit to IKEA for their natural jute options.
Now go find the rug of your dreams!