A living room feels incomplete without a rug. The right area rug adds comfort, color and design to what is most likely the busiest room in your home. Choosing the right floor covering for your living room is an important part of establishing its overall look and vibe, and it’s probably one of the largest and most visible items in the room, second only to your sofa. Here is our guide for things to consider when choosing a rug for your living room.


When determining what kind of rug you should buy, the size should be the first thing you decide upon. A rug that is too small can throw off proportions and make the room look unbalanced or sparse. A rule of thumb is to choose the largest area rug that fits in your room while leaving 1-3 feet of space on each side between the edge of the rug and the wall. You want to have some visible floor between the wall and rug, but not too much. You also want to make sure that any walkways in the room are either completely covered or completely bare, since no one wants to walk on the perimeter of the carpet with one foot on and one foot off.

A practical way to start is by determining if there are any obstacles you will need to avoid, such as doorways and door swings, HVAC floor grilles, a fireplace hearth, etc. Next, determine how far beyond furniture the rug should extend. If your sofa is against the wall, it should reach at least its front legs. In a large room with a floating seating area, it should contain all the furniture’s front and back legs.Smaller objects like end tables or floor lamps should either be completely on or off the rug to avoid any wobble. Experts advise against small rugs that float in the center of the room without reaching your sofas and chairs.

If you’re still unsure of what size you should get, try mapping out a rug with painter’s tape to get an idea of how it would look.

Color, Pattern and Style

When it comes to area rugs, there are nearly limitless options of colors, patterns and styles. Do you want to go with a graphic statement rug or something more understated? Will the rug be the major design element in the room, or are you using it to unify your aesthetic? Traditional, contemporary, natural and bohemian are just some of the styles to consider.

Patterns and graphic styles can bring life to a room with neutral furniture, but if you already have a lot of patterns or colors to compete with, go for something more neutral or solid, since too many patterns can confuse the eye.

Your goal is to work with the rest of the room. It will be hard to find a color that is an exact match for your furniture, so it’s best to go with something that will compliment and accentuate it. A good idea is to match the rug’s secondary color to the sofa, and match the third most-dominant rug color to your drapes or wall colors. If doing a solid color, make sure it compliments the sofa and matches an accent color in the room, such as artwork or pillows. It’s always a great idea to bring a throw pillow or swatch of your drapes or wall color when you go rug shopping.

You should also consider the size of your room: light colors can make a room look bigger, while darker colors can make it look smaller. If you’re choosing this rug for home staging, you’ll want to select whatever makes the room look the biggest and brightest.


Selecting your material mostly comes down to considering the feel underfoot and the need for care and cleaning, but can also be an aesthetic choice. Wool is an extremely popular option, as it is durable, soft underfoot and more stain resistant. Plant-based materials like cotton, sisal, seagrass and jute are typically the most affordable and casual looking options, perfect for a beach house or a natural style. Allo is very cleanable and doesn’t retain stains. Cotton and linen can age and stain easily. Silk is expensive and delicate, but it offers softness and sheen. If you have young children or pets, you may also want to consider a synthetic or indoor-outdoor rug made from acrylic, polypropylene or PET, which are very difficult to stain or ruin. You may also opt for a nonwoven material such as cowhide for a unique texture and organic shape.


Choosing your pile, which is the size of the loops of fabric your carpet is composed of, is both an aesthetic and performance decision. A low pile often works best in high-traffic areas so that it is easy to vacuum and clean spills. Low-traffic or more formal areas can have a high pile with a rich texture to add some plush luxury. One added bonus of a high pile is that the thicker the rug is, the better the sound buffering and insulation it will provide.


Smaller spaces and living rooms enclosed by walls and doorways usually benefit from a single large rug, but if you have a larger space, perhaps just one rug isn’t your best option. Open concept spaces and lofts benefit from multiple rugs to ground different groupings of furniture. You can also layer rugs, with a large plain rug (like sisal) on the bottom and smaller decorative rugs on top to define different seating areas

Rug Pad

Once your rug is selected, your job isn’t quite done. Be sure to add a non-slip rug pad underneath. It should be cut slightly smaller than the carpet by about an inch on all sides. Non-slip options are great for keeping the rug in place, and more plush options can add a bit more cushion to the carpet you select.

There are a lot of variables to consider when selecting the right rug for the room you use to relax, entertain and be together as a family. If you’re selecting a rug in order to stage your home for sale, call a professional home staging company like Creative Home Stagers to help you with all the decisions that will allow your home to be shown in the best possible light.