Why Picking a Rug is So Hard, According to a Pro—Plus How to Make It Easier

If you've spent hours looking at pictures of rugs online, you're not alone … and you need to read this.

Picking a rug—whether it’s an area rug, a runner, a welcome mat, or even just a bath mat—is no small task. It can take hours of measuring, research, scrolling through websites, and staring at the blank patch on your floor, and then you have to actually figure out how to pay for the thing and get it situated in its new home. All of that, just for something you’re going to spend the next few years stepping on and cleaning.

If you can relate to the rug-picking struggle, you’re definitely not alone—Havenly designer Elyza Brillantes says many of her clients have a difficult time making a decision when it comes to this decorative and functional floor covering. “They know they need a new rug, but they don’t really know how to find one or have a hard time committing,” she says.

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The process is so tough for a number of reasons, Brillantes says.

First, it’s a large item, which means there are more logistics involved in ordering it, figuring out where it will go, and actually getting it home.

Second, online pictures of rugs don’t always tell the whole story. “It can be hard to conceptualize a small picture of a rug that’s laid flat on their website and how it will look laid out on your floor in your home,” Brillantes says. Plus, many people need large area rugs that are 8 feet by 10 feet or larger; visualizing a picture on a home goods website at that scale is challenging.

Third, a rug isn’t something you can try before you buy or plan to return. Committing to something large and expensive, like an area rug, can feel overwhelming, Brillantes says. “I totally get that fear of commitment and worrying about that you’re getting the wrong one.”

Sit for a second with your rug-picking fears and anxieties. And then keep moving, because you still need a rug, and Brillantes has tips to make picking one a little easier.

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Look at the material

Many people worry about how a rug will hold up against daily wear and tear, especially if kids or pets are involved. Learning about the best materials for your situation and needs can help, Brillantes says. (And there are always homemade rug-cleaning solutions, for those disasters you can’t prevent.)

“If you educate yourself and you know what materials you can choose, I think that takes a lot of the burden of the decision off of your shoulders,” she says.

Polypropylene is a great synthetic for stain-resistance and easy maintenance, and Brillantes says she often recommends synthetics. Wool is also excellent for stain resistance.

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Neutral rugs are okay

Your rug does not need to be the décor item that defines your space. In fact, you may be better off taking the subtle rout, especially if your other furnishings or wall color is particularly bold.

“If you’re really concerned, I think it’s great to just err on the side of caution and just go with a great neutral rug,” Brillantes says. “Neutrals are classic for a reason. They go with so many different colors, you don’t have to worry about it not working with a new accent color you’re bringing in, it’s a very timeless palette to go with, and it can be very easy to fit into other colors.”

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Think about it as an investment

Affordable rug options are out there, but regardless of the price tag, be confident that you’re making a good investment in your room’s overall look and feel. “When you see a room without a rug, you know something is missing,” Brillantes says. “You understand that it doesn’t feel complete, it doesn’t feel tied together, and the rug can just really bring it all together.”

Plus, rugs offer protection for floors—hardwood or otherwise—that can help prolong their lifespans.

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