6 Area Rug Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

Here's how to choose the right rug for every room.

From stepping onto a cozy area rug next to your bed first thing in the morning to lounging on a plush rug in your living room, rugs are some of the most functional pieces of decor in a home. But if they're not selected carefully, these accessories can also become a source of stress—whether it's that runner you always trip on or the one with the stain that just won’t come out. Choosing the right rug will help you avoid these scenarios.

On the hunt for a new rug? Here are the most common rug mistakes to avoid, according to interior designers. 


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Selecting the Wrong Style Rug

Finding a rug with the right style is the key to designing a space. “The beauty of a rug is that you can either use it as a focal point in a room or let it serves as the groundwork for the rest of the design. A rug takes up so much surface area that this is a great opportunity to add a lot of design with a bold pattern if the rest of the design elements are more muted,” says artist and designer Elizabeth Sutton, who recently launched a new line of rugs.

Sutton suggests going with a rug that’s the opposite of what you already have in the room. “If your room already has a lot of design elements and detail, choose a rug that is very simple and does not compete.” On the other hand, a minimalist space might benefit from a bolder rug. It's all about balance.

Not Using a Washable Rug Where You Really Need It

Washable rugs have come a long way in recent years. While you don’t always need a washable rug, Kate Lester of Kate Lester Interiors likes to use them in areas of the home that tend to get messy, such as kitchens. “These areas tend to have more accidents and having a washable rug in them is just smarter," she says.

If you have pets or small children, it may make the most sense to outfit your home with washable rugs exclusively. 

Choosing the Wrong Material

"The biggest mistake people make when purchasing a rug is choosing rugs made with fibers that cannot be cleaned. Usually, this is a less expensive option," says Kyra Schulhof, founder of Fayette Studio. "Materials like viscose and bamboo silk look beautiful at first but they are very hard to maintain.” So be sure to read the label before purchasing.

Improperly Maintaining Your Rug

Vacuuming regularly is important for keeping your rug clean. So Schulhof tells me it's crucial to choose the proper machine and setting. “Using the wrong vacuum can create pulls and wear on a rug, which people tend not to think about when purchasing a rug. We suggest light suction on all rugs and carpets to maintain them.”

Opting for the Wrong Size

Sutton tells me you want the rug to tuck comfortably under furniture without it flooding and overwhelming the space. “For a medium to large size room, 8 by 10 feet is always a safe bet. For an oversized room, go with 11 by 14 feet. For a small to medium-sized room, shoot for 5 by 7 feet," explains the designer.

If you're still not entirely sure, she advises measuring out the dimensions of the rug on the floor with blue painter’s tape for a better visual. 

Using a Rug Pad...or Not

Some rugs require a rug pad, while others do not. "So many rugs nowadays have rug pads built into them or are made of nonslip materials that are really impressive and useful, like my Harman Hold collection with Jaipur Living. All of those rugs have traction backing built in—no rug pad required,” says Lester.

On the other hand, some rugs still benefit from the extra protection. “If you are using a rug without some sort of built-in padding or backing, a rug pad is always I good idea and can help massively with the longevity of the rug," explains the designer.

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