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There’s no doubt that rugs play an important role in interior design. But, are area rugs necessary to create a beautiful room?
They’re incredibly versatile and serve not only as a decorative accent but also as a way to delineate a particular area of your home. However, they’re not the only way to create boundaries or decorate a space.
So, do you need them?
In this post, we’ll talk about when area rugs are necessary and when they’re not needed. We’ll also review size options, how to place an area rug, as well as where and when to buy.
Let’s get started.
When Are Area Rugs Necessary?
1. Continuous Hard Flooring
If you have continuous hard flooring throughout your home, you’ll want to integrate area rugs. You’ll need the comfort and warmth underfoot that an area rug brings.
Many new construction homes, especially in flood-prone areas will have hard flooring throughout the first floor. Bedrooms are usually the only exception.
Use area rugs in your living room, family room, office/study, and dining area (optional).
If you have continuous hard flooring of the same variety throughout your home and an open floorplan, the use of area rugs is even more important.
By this, I mean that you have all tile, or all hardwood, or all stained concrete.
Not only will you need area rugs for comfort, but you’ll also need them to help create visual boundaries between your rooms.
2. Studio Apartments or One-Room Homes
Similarly to the open-floor plan scenario, studio apartments and one room layout greatly benefit from the use of area rugs. More than anything, this is to provide visual boundaries within the space.
Designating zones within a small area like a studio apartment is crucial to maintaining a functional space.
And while you may not have a ton of walking room, you can create a beautiful, highly functional dwelling inexpensively. You likely won’t need a large 8′ x 10′ area rug for a studio apartment. This means big savings for you.
You’ll be able to get away with some of the smaller, less expensive sizes, or even a couple of runners.
Cheap vs High-Quality Area Rugs
Before I get into the list of places to buy area rugs, I want to quickly touch on the difference between a low-quality rug and a high-quality rug. If you can avoid it, do not buy a cheap area rug.
A cheap rug would be something that is inexpensive because of the cheap materials and methods used to make the item. You don’t want a cheap rug, you want an affordable good quality rug.
Take your time to read through the detailed description, fine points, or tags when shopping in-store. Here are a few things that may cause a rug to be priced cheaply compared to others.
- Irregularities – Rugs that are made quickly and end up with uneven sides are considered irregular. If your 5′ x 7′ rug measures 4′ 9.5″ on one side and 4′ 11″ on the other side. It’s irregular and that should be reflected in the price.
- Synthetic Fibers – Cheaper rugs made from synthetic fibers vs natural fibers (like wool) tend to have a shorter life span. They’re considerably less expensive to manufacture, which is why they’re cheaper, but if you’re looking for something to stand the test of time, go for a rug made from natural fibers.
- Machine Made vs Hand Made – This is a pretty obvious one, but handmade rugs are going to be way more expensive than their machine-made counterparts. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll end up with low quality are rug made by a machine, but if you’re looking for a family heirloom type item, opt for something made by hand to ensure high quality.
There’s a great post from SFgate.com titled How To Tell a Quality Rug From a Cheap One. I recommend checking it out for more info on selecting quality rugs.
Where to Buy Affordable Area Rugs
When To Buy Area Rugs
An easy rule of thumb for when to buy area rugs is to buy when no one is thinking about being warm and cozy. This means that June, July, and August are the best times to catch a deal on rugs.
For more info on the right time to buy items for your home, check out my What To Buy series.
Common Area Rug Sizes
A runner is an area rug that is used to run down the center of a hallway or pathway. They are also commonly used in kitchens. Most runners are somewhere between 2′ 3″ and 2′ 8″ wide. The length of the runner may vary, but in general, you won’t find a runner that is wider than 3′ in width.
5′ x 7′
The most common small area rug size is the 5′ x 7′. The 3′ x 5′ area rug is also popular, however, in my experience, that size has been too small for my needs.
The reason the 5′ x 7′ works best for most people is that the standard three-seater sofa size is 84″ (or 7′). If you’re looking to place an area rug in your living room where you have a standard sofa and loveseat, the 3′ x 5′ will be too small.
However, if you have a loveseat and a couple of chairs for a small living room, the smaller of the two may work. The standard size for a loveseat is 60″ (or 5′).
8′ x 10′
For a larger, but not oversized area rug, 8′ x 10′ is common. This is because it frames the typically living room seating set up perfectly. It’s long enough to run the length of the couch and give you a little extra room on each side.
How To Place An Area Rug
Rug size and furniture type play an important role in how to place an area rug.
First, let’s talk about the placement of your rug in relation to your furniture. Next, we’ll talk about the placement of your rug within your room.
Traditional Living Furniture and Rug Placement
The most popular method of placing furniture around an area rug is to have the front two feet of your furniture on the rug. The back feet of your sofa or chair would remain off of the rug.
This method of arranging furniture works best if you have a traditional sofa and loveseat combo and are using an 8′ x 10′ area rug.
If you are able to afford and extra-large area rug like a 9′ x 12′ or 11′ x 14′, having all 4 feet of your sofa and chairs on the rug is ideal. But if now, this arrangement will work just fine.
Traditional Living Room Furniture and Rug Placement
On the other hand, if you have a sofa and loveseat combo but your rug is only 5′ x 7′ you may run into some trouble using this approach. If you have a 7′ sofa and a 7′ rug, that means the feet of your couch will meet the rug exactly.
The problem with this is that rugs and sofas rarely measure out exactly. Your rug may end up being short by an inch, and this is enough to cause you to have one of the feet on your sofa to be wobbling on the edge of the carpet.
Also, you may find that you have an irregular rug as we talked about in the “Cheap vs High-Quality” section above. Having the corner of your sofa meet the corner of a rug that isn’t exactly at a 90% angle won’t look great.
Ideally, you should use an area rug that is at least 8′ x 10′ for the living room. But, if you have to work with a 5′ x 7′ you can.
The solution to this is to place your furniture around the perimeter of the rug, about an inch away from the edge.
In conclusion, area rugs are necessary if you have a particular type of flooring or floorplan. They can be found at an affordable price if you know where to look, and placement of your area rug can elevate your room from basic to beautiful.
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