Rugs 101: Everything you Need to Know about Buying a Rug

Rugs are always an overwhelming item to buy for a space. Often times they can be pretty pricey, and they take up so much real estate in a room, so you don’t want to make the wrong choice.Buying a rug for a nursery can be challenging. We love this navy blue oriental rug in this space.

Rugs are vital when it comes to making a room feel comfortable, layered, and homey…so we don’t want you to skimp out on buying a rug simply because you’re overwhelmed with this task. Instead, we’re here to answer ALL of your questions on this worthwhile topic. Hopefully, after reading today’s post, you’ll feel more confident when buying a rug for your home.

Buying a Rug 101

If you're buying a rug you want to make sure you spend time answering these questions before you pull the trigger

How Do I Choose the Right Rug for Me? A large seagrass rug works well in a living room space.

When we pull a room together, our rug choice really sets the tone for the rest of the room. Sometimes we want the rug to act as a neutral in the space (like in Casey’s family room above), and other times we want it to be the focal point (like in Bridget’s nursery below). Choose a dark colored rug for a nursery to add in dimension and color.

But before you even think about the LOOK of the rug, you must think about the FUNCTION of the rug. Is this a high-traffic area? Will this rug get spilled on? Will you be laying down on this rug, so, therefore, it needs to be soft? Think about how you will use the rug in your everyday life before you choose. This jute rug works well in this gray bedroom space.

In the past, we’ve both opted for natural fiber rugs in high-traffic spaces. You can read more about the differences between natural fiber rugs in this post, but know that these rugs are often very durable and affordable. That’s why they’re great for spots that will see a lot of use (like a family room, kitchen, or entryway), plus you won’t feel bad if you have to replace them frequently due to wear and tear. A light blue oriental rug in the dining room looks nice with the wood table.

Lately, Bridget has opted for more colorful rug choices in her new home. Because so much of the furniture in her space is neutral, adding a pop of color on the floor is always a welcome idea. This blue rug in her dining room is an oriental rug look-a-like and came at an amazing price. Being in the dining room, this baby is destined to see some spills over the next few years, so that’s why she didn’t opt for a real vintage rug in here. She is currently on the hunt for a real oriental rug for her master bedroom, but because they’re so pricey she wants to find the perfect one before she pulls the trigger!

Should I Buy a Rug Online?
Shopping online when buying a rug can be overwhelming. Here's how we navigate the rug shopping world.

We buy 97% of our rugs online. In fact, we do a large chunk of our home shopping online (for more tips on how to online shop for home decor, check out this post).  It can be a bit scary ordering such a large piece online and not seeing it in person…we get that. But you’ve just gotta be smart about it.

Always read the reviews from other customers and check to see if they’ve posted photos of the rug in their space. Sometimes colors will look different in person, so it’s always good to hear from a “real person” about their experience.

Only order from places with amazing return policies. If they won’t take the item back after opening, or if you have to pay an arm and a leg for return shipping, find another online retailer!A white and gray rug with a leather pouf.

And our favorite piece of advice? If you’re ordering a huge rug for a room and you’re nervous about what it will be like in real life, try to order a sample or even a doormat of the exact same rug. Seeing the exact color and fabric in person could save you from making a bad decision on such a big purchase!

Where Do You Shop for Rugs? This contemporary master bedroom looks great with a tribal patterned area rug from Lulu & Georgia.

  • RugsUSA: Wait until they have a big sale before you buy…sometimes up to 70% off!
  • Lulu & Georgia: We love their unique collection of rugs. So many awesome colors and patterns that are right on-trend. (like the rug we used in the master bedroom above!)
  • Wayfair: B buys a lot of her rugs from here. Such good prices!
  • West Elm: You can’t go wrong with our favorite store! It’s also nice that you can go in-store to see rugs that way.
  • World Market: They tend to have a lot of great rug sales, so wait to buy. We’ve used some of their natural fiber rugs in the past. Plus, they have some good outdoor rugs too.
  • HomeGoods: This is another good spot because you get to see the rug in-person before you buy. However, you also have to figure out how the heck to get it home. The rug in Casey’s mom’s bedroom was a steal from HomeGoods, so you really never know what you might find there.

What Size Do I Buy?If you have a queen-sized bed, you should opt for at least an 8x10 rug to go underneath it.

By far the biggest mistake we see people making when it comes to rugs is buying the wrong size. And most of the time that means they’re buying way too small of a rug for their space. We outlined all of the do’s & don’ts in this post, so read it carefully before selecting a rug for your specific space. When in doubt…bigger is better!

Can I Layer Over Carpet?You can layer an area rug over carpet for a sophisticated look.

Yes! Absolutely. If you hate your carpet, the best thing you can do is place a rug on top that you absolutely do love. Rugs make a room feel cozier, so feel free to use them even if you have wall to wall carpet. Even if you don’t have carpet, you can still layer rugs. Because rugs can be so pricey (especially big ones!), sometimes it makes sense to layer a small expensive rug over a large natural fiber rug that is more affordable.

Do I Need a Rug Pad?

Yes, especially if you have hardwood floors. Rug pads do a few things. They keep your rug in place, they add an extra layer of comfort, and they protect your floors! Natural fiber rugs can be abrasive and permanently scratch the hardwood floor underneath. If you place a rug pad underneath, you can protect your floors and avoid falling victim to permanent scratches down the road.

The good news is rug pads come in all shapes and sizes and are a fraction of the cost of the actual rug. Even if your decorative rug is an odd size or you can’t seem to find the perfect rug pad, you can always cut down a rug pad to fit your rug’s dimensions. We like using this felt & rubber rug pad underneath our rugs.

When in doubt, opt for a rug pad.

How Do You Clean Rugs?Vacuum your area rugs regularly and spot clean them to keep them looking good.

This is a really good question and sadly we are not experts at this one! We both vacuum our rugs weekly and always use spot remover if we find a spill or a stain. Neither of us has ever had our area rugs professionally steam cleaned, but from our research, this can be done once a year and it really improves the longevity of your rug.

Shall I Donate Mine?If you're getting rid of a rug, make sure you see if you can donate it first. If not, you can recycle your area rugs.

If your rug is in good condition, but just doesn’t jive with the style of your home (or is the wrong size), you can definitely donate it! Most local thrift stores will accept large area rugs (Bridget actually bought her dining rug from her old house at a thrift store!). However, if it’s badly damaged, soiled from pets, or just reaaaaallly worn down, you should recycle it! This website can help you find out where to bring your used rug.

Any Favorite Rugs in your Homes?A light blue oriental rug looks nice under this dining room table.

We actually wrote an entire post giving you honest feedback about every single rug in our homes. You can read this post for our rookie review on our rugs.

But here are some of our tried & true rug favorites…A jute rug in a living room is good for a high-traffic area.

Casey’s Family Room – 9×12 Seagrass RugThe sierra ivory paddle rug works in this gray bedroom.

Casey’s Bedroom – 8×10 Wool Rug

A navy oriental rug in a neutral nursery space

Bridget’s Nursery –  9×12 Oriental Rug

This white and gray area rug complements the leather sofa in a living room.

Bridget’s Family Room – 10 x 14 Neutral Rug

A large blue rug underneath a dining room table.

Bridget’s Dining Room – 8×10 Oriental Rug

Other Rugs We Love

Wow, that was a lot about buying a rug! We hope we helped to make the rug buying process a tiny bit less scary. We know it can be overwhelming, but now you’ve got the tools you need to find the perfect rug for your home!