The perfect rug adds a feeling of comfort to your flooring type, colour to your interior space, and individuality to each room of your home. It can simultaneously create cohesion between different spaces within your home and add an extra touch of design flair to its surroundings – not to mention the often soft textured and comfortable finish that comes with the addition of a rug.
But with so many benefits linked with the perfect rug, how do you distinguish between the different options available on the market?
In this rug buying guide, we consider the importance of your rug’s material and compare the impact that different sizes have on the aesthetic presentation of the room as a whole.
Rug size guide
There are a series of standard measurements that you need to know when choosing a rug – and unfortunately a simple “Small, Medium, or Large” decision isn’t quite enough.
Typically, rugs start at the smallest and most niche option known as a runner and work their way up in size until you reach the XL measurements of 240cm x 340cm. The runner is a classically long and thin design and is ideal for elongating smaller rooms, while the small standard rug is a more balanced rectangle which is great for sitting beneath a coffee table.
If you live in an open plan home and want to create a dedicated living area within the boundaries of a large space, a large or even extra large rug can help to assign boundaries to the selected area and create a frame within which your living space lies.
Finding the perfect sized rug requires you to measure the room and the space you want to fill, and also decide how you want the rug to interact with the surrounding furniture – i.e. do you want the rug to be a standalone feature or do you want it to overlap and sit beneath tables and chairs.
Armed with this information, you’re ready to start thinking in more detail about your ideal rug.
Types of rugs
From outdoor rugs which bridge the gap between inside and outside living to luxury rugs which exude softness and comfort, all the way through to the vibrant and playful children’s rugs which bring their favourite designs to life and protect your flooring all at the same time, the market is full of different rugs for different uses and occasions.
Material plays a big part in how a rug is perceived and used in any interior or exterior space, with some of the core rug materials outlined in more detail in the next section.
Beyond that, it’s all about how your chosen rug interacts with the space it is in and the furnishings and details which surround it. For example, a rug placed inside a doorway provides a form of welcome and can also protect the floor around your door and entranceway, while a runner tends to elongate a room with limited space, and a traditional rug with ornate detailing is a great way of adding decorative flair to a modern space.
Rug material choices
Rug materials influence the texture and overall feel of your rug. Some of the most common materials used in rug creation include wool, polypropylene, polyester, nylon, jute, coir, and cotton. All of these boast their own benefits – for example, wool is warm and durable while polypropylene allows a rug to be used inside or outside, and coir is both durable and highly cost effective. As such, the most important thing in ascertaining which material you need is to determine where your rug is going to be placed and how high the footfall is going to be – does it need to be durable, soft, or stain-resistant?
The most durable rug materials include wool which is well known for both durability and comfort all in one, nylon as well as the budget option of polypropylene.
If softness is a priority and your rug will be in a low footfall location then we recommend a faux fur or faux cow hide rug made of acrylic which still gives you the same look and feel as the real thing but at a more environmentally friendly and cheaper price.
Finally if choosing a rug for an area likely to be stained such as your front door or outdoors then opt for robust nylon or polypropylene as well as darker shades less likely to show wear and tear as quickly as lighter colours. A coir mat instead of a rug often makes the perfect addition to a front or back entrance as it's hard-wearing and great at picking up the dirt from your shoes.
A good quality rug is one where the craftsmanship is consistent, the dimensions are well balanced and refined, and the colours do not fade in the sun or with frequent use.
As a general rule, paying attention to the manufacturer and seller is a good place to start in ensuring you get a rug that is of a high quality, with an understanding that the more durable and cost effective materials and products are likely to be more cheaply made and mass produced.
Knots per Square Inch (KPSI) refers to the number of knots within a rug and this determines the density, durability and clearness of the pattern on the rug. The more knots, the higher the quality of the rug. The average rug has approximately 100 knots per square inch. 120 to 330 KPSI will mean the rug is good quality while anything above 330 KPSI indicates a very good quality rug.
Again, this ties in with how you want to use your rug, its placement, and your preference in terms of home style vs. comfort and functionality. Typically, a thicker rug with a higher pile offers a softer bed for your feet (great for beside your bed or in front of a sofa), while thinner flatweave rugs are more durable and functional – suitable for doorways and hallways.
Rug thickness otherwise known as pile height vary considerably but the three main categories are low - less than ¼ inch, medium - ¼ to ½ inch and high - ½ to ¾ inch. A medium thickness is ideal for rugs in high footfall spaces while high pile rugs work well where you want to create luxury such as beside your bed. Thinner, low pile rugs can pose a tripping hazard so their location should be well thought through.
Rug colour choices
One of the most commonly asked questions is whether a rug should be darker or lighter in colour than the floor it sits on. The answer lies in your preference and in the way that you want to dress your room according to its size and use. A light rug set upon a darker floor will brighten up the room or area and accentuate the colours of the floor (be it wood or a darker tile), while a dark rug set upon a lighter floor adds a cosy feel to the area and allows the rug to become more of a standout feature within the space.
If you’re unsure which is best for you, play around with different shades of grey and other neutral tones, which compliment most interior design schemes.
Rugs for living rooms
Comfort and style are both integral in selecting a rug for your living room, with high pile rugs offering that soft texture underfoot while deep colours and intricate patterns help to ground your living space and create a stylish area for relaxing and entertaining.
If your living space is a small, closed room, look for a rug which maximises the use of floor space – ideally something which stretches underneath your coffee table and feet and which envelops the seating area in luxury. If you’re creating a living area within a vast open plan room, an extra large rug will help you to dictate the boundaries of the living space with ease.
TOP TIP: If you’re selecting a rug for a wooden or tiles floor, be sure to purchase rug grippers to maximise the safety of your accessory.
What should I look for when buying a rug?
Your hunt for the perfect rug starts and ends with where and how you want to use the rug, considering the light in your space, its size, how you want the rug to interact with other features and furnishings, and what kind of atmosphere you want to create.