Rug Buying Guide

July 16, 2017

Below are some important considerations when selecting a rug for your space:


Standard rugs mostly come in rectangular shapes: as small as 2’ x 3’ and as large as 11’ x 14’ and even larger.  Common sizes include: 3’ x5’,  5’x 6’, 6’×9’, 8’×10’, 9’×12’, and 11×14 feet. They can be rectangular, square, round, runners, scatters rugs, and custom size rugs can often come in any size you need.

As a general rule, a rectangular room will look best with a rectangular rug.  A square room (which is uncommon) looks best with a round or square rug.

Size Matters!

Living Room Placement Options

You can select a large rug so that all the furniture sits on it with all four legs/feet.

You can select a slightly smaller rug that allows the front legs of your sofa to sit on it, while the back legs sit on the main surface.

A third, not ideal option is to place the rug so that your feet are on it when you sit on the sofa, but the sofa’s feet sit on the main surface.

Dining Room Placement Options

Select a rug that’s in proportion to the dining room table; large enough for all four legs of each chair to sit on the rug when pushed away from the table.

Bedroom Placement Options

Buy a rug that not only fits under the bed and still has enough size to comfortably walk on the edges when you get in or out of the bed.  You can also consider runners to go along each side of the bed.

                                      Photo credit:

Fiber Content

Originally, rugs were made of wool or silk, although some tribal rugs were made of camel or other animal hides. Wool creates very plush rugs, feels great to walk on, and is a renewable resource since it comes from the shearing of sheep. Silk is made from the cocoon of the silk worm, and is also a renewable resource.  Today, natural fibers and synthetic materials are enhancing the industry, as well.

Formal to Casual Looks

Viscose is another option to consider, as it has an innate sheen that is usually made from wood pulp (celluose.)  Bamboo silk is made from bamboo cellulose and has a similar feel and look as silk. Sisal, harvested from the agave plant, is an extremely durable (but coarse) fiber that creates rugs in neutral colors. Seagrass, grown in Asia, can make rugs in yellows, browns and sage green, and is biodegradable. Jute, grown in tropical climates, has strength, low cost, and durability on its side. Cotton area rugs can be hand loomed or power loomed, and are lightweight, durable and usually reversible.

Selecting a Rug Pad

The best rug pad is a perforated natural rubber (or natural rubber with jute.)  You need a rug pad to allow the rug to breathe, as well as to prevent it from moving around on the floor, and cause someone to slip when it moves.


Machine Made or Handmade?

Machine made rugs, also called “power loomed”, are made by a computer controlled machine that produces a repeated pattern. The good news is that they’re much lower in cost, because they can be produced relatively quickly.  The bad news is that the detail in the pattern and depth of color can be lacking.

Basically, there are  four types of handmade rugs: hand-knotted, hand-tufted, hand-hooked and flat woven. 

‚Äč1. Hand-knotted rugs are made on a (vertical frame called a) hand-knotting loom. The process of making a rug such as this can take 1-2 years, and can last more than a life time of wear.

2. A tufting gun is used to make hand-tufted rugs, where loops of wool are pushed through a backing that has been printed with an overall design pattern. The back is then sealed with glue, and then a protective cloth is placed on the back. Then the loops on top are sheared which creates a pile.  These rugs last 10-12 years, compared to hand knotted rugs.

3. Hand-hooked rugs date back to the early 1800s in England. Loops of fabric are pulled through woven base using a crochet-type hook.

4. Flat woven rugs include Kilims, Dhurrie, Soumak, Needlepoints and Aubusson and are pile-less.

Choosing the Right Rug

Determine whether you want your rug to be a focal point or to blend in seamlessly with your color scheme.  Then look at the other parts and pieces within the room’s decor: is there a lot of pattern already present (perhaps with decorative wall paper, patterns on upholstery, etc.)? Then you might want to choose on hue with less variance in complementary colors & patterns.  By contrast, if you have mostly solid or tweed (squint your eyes: does it look like a solid color?) then you might want to add a more vibrant color or larger pattern in your rug like the one above.

You can elongate a room by adding striped rug, or widen by laying the stripes in the opposite direction.

Using warm darker hues (like burgundy, brown, or terracotta) will help to shrink a large room and make it feel cozier.  Using lighter cool tones (like sky blue, mint green, or light grey) will help to enlarge a small space, but remember to be practical depending upon frequency of use, as they will also show dirt more than mid-toned hues.

If you have all neutrals and very little contrast, then at least consider some texture in your rug’s selection, if not a larger pattern or more vibrant color.

A great list of rug terminology is listed on although I’ll warn you it can be overwhelming because there are a LOT of terms for various qualities of rugs.

If you’d like to learn more about these types, check out for further information.

Overall Advice

Go to the rug showroom with the size of rug you want.  You can determine this by placing painter's tape on the floor of the room for which you're selecting a rug.  Then pick two or three that you think you might like and then ask the sales person if you can take them home, place them in the space and then decide on the perfect choice.   You’ll need help with this, as rugs are heavy!   Often times, the light is different in your home than it will be in a showroom.  Colors can therefore look very different.  You might even be able to convince the shop owner to have his people bring them over to try them out and take away those not selected.  It is, however the best way to determine if you’re making the right choice.

In conclusion

If you need help with this process, please contact us via this website and we’ll make an appointment.  We have fabulous resources for some of the most beautiful rugs on the planet, and we can help you make a choice you’ll love forever!

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