top of page

Ask the Designer: Choosing the Right Rug

A rug can really make a room, but it also has the potential to ruin it. I get a lot of clients looking for rugs with no idea where to start. In this post I'm going to give you my quick and simple rug guide so you'll never have to play rug Russian roulette again.

Material: Consider the space you're working with. Does it need to be easily cleaned, durable, or super soft? Each material brings its own pros and cons. Polypropylene is a synthetic that is super durable, fade resistant, easy to spot-treat, and typically the most affordable. There are other synthetics, but this is the most popular. Wool is incredibly durable and there aren't any concerns with off-gassing, but it does need to be professionally cleaned. The fibers also tend to hold water, so you'll want to skip using this in any space where it could get wet. Sisal works wonders in high-traffic zones and adds beautiful texture to a room. Like wool, it doesn't like water, so keep that in mind when considering the right rug for your space. Cotton is one of the easiest options as it typically comes in a flat woven application and can often be machine washed. You will most likely need a non-slip rug pad under these, so remember that when thinking about the overall thickness.

Size: The rules are different by room, but the gist is that at least all the front legs of a furniture grouping should be able to sit on the rug. In a living room, this means that the front legs of your sofa and accent chairs should be on top of your rug and your coffee table should be squarely situated in the middle. When considering a dining room, you'll want to be sure that all the chairs are still on the rug when pulled out from the table. This is to prevent chairs from getting stuck on the edge and causing a trip hazard. In bedrooms, you'll want the rug to either cover the entire space under the bed and at least three feet beyond the end or you can use a smaller rug and have it start just in front of your nightstands and again, extend past the end of the bed frame.

Construction: When purchasing a rug, the product details will tell you how the rug was constructed. Flat-woven rugs are just as you would expect--flat. They don't have much thickness to them and aren't the softest option. A tufted rug (by machine or hand) is where the woven loops of material have been cut at the top to create a lush, cozy feel. A loop construction is the same as a tufted, but the rug hasn't been trimmed and the loops remain on the finished side. This option can feel quite different under foot depending on the material used.

Thickness: This is often referred to as the pile height of a rug, or the thickness of the woven fibers. Don't confuse pile height with softness, though. A thicker sisal rug will be rougher than a thinner wool rug. You'll want to consider adding a rug pad under thinner rugs for a better feel under foot and to prevent slipping. Also, be sure to check any doors that will swing in over the rug to be sure you have enough clearance.

I hope this quick primer has helped you get a handle on the big bad world of rugs. If you're still unsure and would like an expert opinion, please reach out! Our Quick Question offering is perfect if you're trying to decide which rug is best for your space.


Recent Posts

See All


Featured Posts


Hi there! My name is Erin and I'm the owner of Erin Davis Design, a virtual interior design firm founded in 2017. Here on my blog I serve up tips for creating a home that's functional, beautiful, and right on budget. I hope you'll cozy up on your sofa and stay awhile! 

See more..

bottom of page