How to choose a rug

Discover how rugs can be used to incorporate trends or complement your scheme with our guide to how to choose a rug

In most rooms of the house, but particularly the bedrooms, living room and hallway, a well chosen rug is an effective option for incorporating trends into a space or enhancing an established room scheme. 

From flat-woven and worn antique rugs to luxurious deep-pile and sheepskin styles, there really is a shape and style to suit every space. Use our guide to how to choose a rug to find the best option for you. Don't miss our guide to choosing a carpet, too.

Our guide to how to design a bedroom is a must-read if your new-found interest in rugs is inspired by a redesign. Alternatively, you might find more relevant advice in our guide to living room design.

Calligaris cs4005_P94_cs1389

Find this contemporary geometric rug at Calligaris

What is the purpose of your rug?

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Before you can begin thinking about the size and style of your rug, you'll need to think about what purpose you intend it to serve. 

Many people buy rugs to protect a floor – particularly solid wood flooring – as heavy furniture can cause damage. If this is the case, we'd recommend opting for a rug that is hard-wearing and thick. Similarly, this style of rug is well suited to a space with real stone or ceramic and porcelain tiles which can feel cold underfoot. 

If the purpose of your rug is to protect carpet in relatively high traffic spaces, smaller and thinner options may be appropriate and will prevent the carpet from wearing out from the footfall.

living room with neutral rug and coral coloured sofa

Find the Casbah Rug at Loaf. Available in multiple sizes

(Image credit: Loaf)

Choose the right sized rug for your room

When it comes to choosing the right sized rug, there are no hard and fast rules. That said, avoid choosing a rug that's too small for the space, as this can appear uninviting. 

Generally, a square or round rug works the best in a square room and a rectangular one in a rectangular space, so keep that in mind when choosing a rug for your room.

The positioning of your rug depends on the room you're working with, as well as its layout. Some ideas might include:

Living room rugs

If your rug is for a living room, there are various options. Choose a large rug, where all the furniture sits on it easily; just have the front legs of your sofa on top of it; or place it in front of the sofa, but close enough so that you can rest your feet on it.

You'll find plenty of gorgeous designs in our pick of the best living room rugs.

living room with large book she;bves striped rug and comfy pink armchair by delight FULL

For a similar striped rug, try Ikea

(Image credit: DelightFULL)

Bedroom rugs

For bedrooms, you might consider choosing a large design to go under the bed, ensuring there’s enough of it on show around the edge to walk on. Alternatively, you can buy individual runners to go on either side of the bed.

Find great examples of both in our pick of the best bedroom rugs.

bedroom with patterned rug by carmine teal

Find the Willow Rug at Carmine & Teal. Available in multiple sizes

(Image credit: Carmine Teal)

Dining room rugs

The general advice for dining rooms is to choose a rug that is in proportion with the table, making sure it’s big enough to pull chairs out to sit on without the back legs coming off it.

Hallway rugs

A rectangular runner is likely to be the only appropriate solution for most hallways, but this will work to your advantage by drawing the focus away from the entrance and towards the end of the room, making it appear longer.

Browse our pick of hallway rugs and runners to help you make a grand entrance.

Choose the right pattern for your rug

Take time to think about whether you want your rug to make a statement or blend seamlessly into a more neutral scheme. To make this decision, look at how much pattern is already in the room. If you have decorative wallpaper and soft furnishings, you might want to choose a single-colour design, whereas a patterned rug can really bring a neutral room to life. 

If you want a plain rug, consider a textured design for a rich, layered style. Often, people choose a rug to try to pull a look together in a room – but think about buying a rug first and then designing the rest of your scheme around it. 

Try introducing a vertically striped rug to make a room feel longer, or create a widening effect with horizontal stripes.

bedroom with pink and white scheme and patterned rug by hidraluik

Find the Letamendi rug at Hidraluik. Available in multiple sizes

(Image credit: Hidraulik)

Looking for more design ideas and inspiration?

Anna is a professional writer with many years of experience. She has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. She covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.