Step 1 - size
When it comes to rugs, bigger is usually better as they are a brilliant way to bring a room together. The size of your rug should be dictated by the size of the room, not the current clear space you have between your furniture. Make sure that before you start looking you have measured the whole space, excluding any cupboards or side tables as these would sit off the rug. If you want your furniture fully on the rug (see living room layout C) then try to leave around 15cm from the edge of the rug to your furniture. If you decide a smaller rug that sits between your furniture would work best (see Living Room B image) then make sure it is slightly longer and wider than the furniture, and not too far from the seating.
Step 2 - colour and pattern choice
It can be tempting to default to a neutral rug just because it's difficult to find a colour that works well with all the elements in the room. However, there are other options! Try looking for inspiration from artwork or choosing a rug colour that will provide the cue to other colours you choose for soft furnishings such as cushions.
In terms of styles of rug, here are some of the main styles to look out for
PERSIAN RUGS / TRADITIONAL RUGS - good for dining rooms as they often come in rich, multicoloured designs with elaborate borders that can work well under a dinning room table (typically made of wool/silk)
DHURRIES - good for kids rooms or family spaces as they are reversible so can be flipped at the first sign of wear and tear. Dhurries feature symmetrical, geometric designs in a range of colours. (typically made in India from cotton, wool, jute, or silk)
KILIMS - good for family rooms or hallways as they are tightly woven so good for high traffic. Traditionally they feature very small geometric designs with borders made from narrow stripes. (typically made in Pakistan from wool)
OVER-DYED RUGS - great for smaller living rooms or studies where the rich antique colour with faded/distressed pattern can be a feature. (typically made from wool or blended with synthetic fibres)
IKAT RUGS - great for a bedroom, Ikat rugs recreate the traditional prints dyed in a similar way to tie-dye (originally made in Indonesia, materials range from wool to synthetic fibres)
MOROCCAN RUGS / BENI OURAIN RUGS - great to add a touch of comfort to a bedroom or living area, typically these shaggy, soft rugs are cream with simple line based patterns (made in Morocco in wool)
CONTEMPORARY/ MODERN RUGS - great for a living room or open plan space, these often feature abstract shapes in vibrant shades. The styles can hugely vary, but often they take inspiration from the more traditional styles but add a modern twist. (made in practically any fabric)
SHAGGY RUGS - great for a living room or bedroom, often left loose or woven into interesting textures, these shaggy style rugs are toe pleasing and are a slightly more statement way to do neutral (often a wool & synthetic mix)
Step 3 - material suitability check
Often you fall in love with a rug design first, however it is worth considering the pile height and material to make sure the rug is suitable for the use you have in mind. A quick rule of thumb is that shorter pile heights are easier to care for and clean, while longer pile heights feel more luxurious but aren't good for high traffic areas. There are so many types of materials it can be difficult navigating through them all, so below is a quick summary to help you understand the pros and cons of different rug materials before you purchase:
- Silk Rugs
PROS - extremely soft to touch and very durable. The fine silk thread allows a detailed carpet pattern creation with a natural shine.
CONS - much more expensive than wool, prone to colour fade in direct sunlight.
- Wool Rugs
PROS: soft, strong, durable, fire safe and has some natural resistance to dirt, wear and tear.
CONS: shedding, not water resistant, requires regularly vacuuming.
- Bamboo Fibre Rugs
PROS - sustainable, light, ant-bacterial, breathable, hypo-allergenic and stronger than any other fabric. It absorbs 60% more water as compared to cotton making it suitable for bathroom rugs and can be easily washed.
CONS - limited number of rugs and styles are currently made in Bamboo fibre.
- Natural Fibre Rugs (such as Jute and Sisal)
PROS - organic look and neutral texture in a flat weave to fit most styles.
CONS - Natural fibres are quite absorbent meaning they are susceptible to stains and shrinkage in damp, humid conditions. They can wear quickly in high traffic areas and avoid placing directly on hard wood flooring if they contain latex, always use a rug pad.
- Hair-on-Hide/Leather Rugs
PROS - Leather rugs are warm, soft and durable; they are stain-resistant and easy to clean.
CONS - Not right for every interior style, not suitable for humid rooms.
- Cotton Rugs
PROS - naturally absorb moisture and breathable, very easy to clean. Very affordable with wide range of colours and patterns.
CONS - low stain resistance with a tendency to shrinkage and deformation as well as low elasticity.
PROS - High sheen with silk like touch. They are very soft and cool, and are anti-static.
CONS - Loses strength when wet. Poor stain resistance.
- Acrylic Rugs
PROS - fine, softer than wool material with resistance from stains, moths, oil, chemicals and sunlight damage.
CONS: Does not deal with crushing well (e.g. where furniture is placed on it then moved).
- Polyester Rugs
PROS - resistant to mildew, most chemicals and not damaged by sun or water as they are water resistant meaning they can be washed easily. Often polyester is blended with wool for this reason.
CONS - Like acrylic rugs they don't cope well with flattening or crushing.