The enormous variety of designs and materials in area rugs can be overwhelming – but keep in mind that this is a personal choice – fashion for your home. You’re going to live with it, so just apply some basic thinking as you shop.
Look over the room where you want to place the rug. Think style and colors. Think a few years down the line. At first glance you might like a highly elaborate design or trendy bright colors, but consider that rugs should last for years, and whether your choice will restrict what you can do with the room going forward.
How much traffic does it get? This might guide your choice of color and fiber type. Obviously, a white rug in a high traffic area is not an ideal choice. By the same token, a high traffic area requires a durable fabric, occasional traffic, not so much.
Ultimately, an area rug is a decorative item that should coordinate with and complement the look of the room where it is placed.
Alternately, you may want to choose a rug you like then decorate the room around it. In that case, it will usually be the highlights in the rug, not the base color that will be important.
Some practical things to keep in mind:
Rugs with a good combination of density and fiber will wear best – for example, an Oriental rug, woven from wool and hand-knotted with hundreds of fibers per square inch can last generations.
Overall, lighter toned/colored rugs create an airy, roomier impression, while richer, deeper colors make a room feel intimate and cozier.
Don't guess at sizes. Many people buy a rug that's too small for the room. A good rule of thumb is to calculate a border (exposed floor area) of 18 to 36 inches around the rug's edge.
For a dining room rug, start by adding four feet to the width and length of your dining table – about the distance for pushing chairs in and out -- then continue adding until you reach that 18 to 36 inch border.
Fit a hall runner so that it's within four inches of the hall's width. Keep the length within 18 to 24 inches of the hall's length.
Hand-made area rugs generally aren’t perfectly square or conform to exact measurements. An 8’ x 10’ may actually be 8’2” x 10’3”. To ensure the rug will fit where you want it, make sure you know the actual size.
In any case, wherever you’re putting your rug, good padding is essential. It reduces rug wear, improves vacuuming, and absorbs noise and traffic impact.