Area rugs can add warmth, comfort and beauty to any room in your home. Choosing the right rug not only brings visual interest to a space, but also serves practical purposes like insulating cold floors or defining seating areas. With so many sizes, shapes, colors and materials to select from, getting clever with area rugs opens up endless possibilities for customizing your interior decor.

Mixing Styles and Patterns for Visual Interest

One of the easiest ways to make a decorating statement with rugs is to mix different styles and patterns together. Eclectic room designs are on trend, so don’t be afraid to layer a vintage Oriental rug over a sisal natural fiber rug, or combine florals and geometrics. The key is to choose area rugs with colors that coordinate. For example, pairing a Persian rug with tribal print accents and a striped wool rug can create a room full of captivating textures and patterns.

Defining Spaces with Rugs

Area rugs are commonly used to define seating spaces within a larger open floor plan. They bring coziness and visual boundaries to spaces like living rooms, dining areas and bedrooms. Use larger rugs that are proportional to your furnishing arrangement. Make sure there is enough rug underneath the front legs of chairs and sofas, as well as surrounding the bed. Layer rugs of graduating sizes for interest – put a large rug under the sofa grouping, then use a smaller rug under the coffee table.

Warming Up Cold Surfaces

Rugs provide insulation over cold flooring materials like tile, concrete, hardwoods and laminate. They make these chilly surfaces feel warmer and more comfortable underfoot. Using dense rugs made of wool, cotton or other natural fibers is key to retaining heat. Synthetic materials like polyester tend to be less effective insulators. Focus on placing rugs in high-traffic areas and anywhere people will be sitting or lounging.

Noise Reduction

Along with insulating bare floors, area rugs also help muffle noise from foot traffic and echos. This is especially helpful if you have hard flooring on multiple levels so sound doesn’t travel from upstairs down to lower living spaces. Look for thick, high-quality rug pads made of natural rubber or felt to use underneath your rugs. The pad prevents slipping while also absorbing noise and adding extra cushioning.

Protecting Flooring with Rugs

Placing rugs over wood, laminate, vinyl and other flooring types helps protect the surfaces from scratches, dents and excessive wear. They provide a buffer zone where pets, kids and heavy furniture won’t damage the flooring. Use doormat-style rugs at entryways to catch dirt and debris from shoes before it’s tracked throughout the home. Rugs also safeguard floors in high-traffic zones like hallways and in front of the kitchen sink or cooktop where spills happen.

Improving Safety with Non-Slip Rugs

Area rugs can improve safety in homes when used properly on hardwoods and tile. Cushioned rugs provide traction to prevent slips and falls, especially in bathrooms and kitchens where wet accidents occur. Look for rugs labeled as “non-slip” or purchase a rug pad made of rubber mesh or another grippy material. Avoid rugs with oddly shaped patterns, as the edges can flip up and become tripping hazards.

Enhancing Flooring with Unique Rug Shapes

Instead of just using traditional rectangular area rugs, get creative with fun shapes. Round rugs can soften a space and feel less formal. Octagons and ovals also work well in master suites and dining spaces. For high-traffic zones like hallways and foyers, try runner rugs positioned strategically to prevent wear and tear where people walk the most. You can also use area rugs to highlight architectural details – float an oval or circle rug in the center of an arched niche or under a chandelier.


What size area rug do I need?

Choose an area rug that is large enough for the front legs of your furniture to fit on top. For living rooms, size your rug about 8-12 inches from the sofa on all sides. Rugs for dining rooms should be large enough for chairs to pull out and sit comfortably.

Where should I place area rugs?

Use rugs to define separate spaces like living and dining areas in open floor plans. Also place them in bedrooms, nurseries and entryways. Avoid rugs in extremely narrow hallways where they may cause tripping hazards.

Should I use rug pads?

Yes, quality rug pads extend the life of rugs, prevent slipping, muffle noise and add extra cushioning and insulation. Make sure to get the correct pad thickness so furniture legs don’t sink unevenly.

How do I mix and match rug styles?

Choose rugs with coordinating colors in the same tonal palette. Varied textures and weave patterns also work well together. Try scales in different sizes – layer a large shag rug with a smaller geometric design accent rug.

What are the best rug materials for warmth?

Wool rugs provide excellent insulation and natural temperature regulation. Cotton, seagrass and sisal area rugs also warm up cold, hard floors. Synthetics like polyester and nylon tend to feel colder.

How do I clean area rugs?

Check the manufacturer’s instructions. Most can be vacuumed regularly. Professionally clean delicate or heirloom rugs. For spotted stains, immediate blotting with a damp cloth helps prevent setting in the stain. Avoid excessive heat or harsh chemicals.

Can I put a rug on carpet?

Yes, layering an area rug over wall-to-wall carpet adds visual interest. Use a low-pile rug so it doesn’t catch on the carpet underneath. Opt for a rug without a thick cushion backing since the carpet already provides padding.


With so many options for sizes, shapes, materials and designs, area rugs are a versatile decorating tool for adding beauty and warmth. Clever placement of rugs can enhance flooring, protect it from damage, define spaces, muffle noise and improve safety. Following the interior design basics, like scale and color coordination, ensures your rugs work cohesively. Rugs let you customize the look and feel of a room with unique decorative flair. Get creative, mix textures and patterns confidently, and your home can feel comfortably stylish.