My Best Rug Styling Tips

Today’s post is all about something I get asked about a lot: how to style rugs! This was a reader submitted question for one of my small space Q&As, but it felt like the topic of rugs needed a full post. There’s just so much to cover! Also, I used to design rugs for a living, which means I know wayyy too much about them. So without further ado, let’s dig into my best rug styling tips — they are perfect for any space in your home!

image by Ellie Lillstrom.

My Best Rug Styling Tips — AKA How To Look Like You Know What You’re Doing!

Layer your rugs.

One of the best ways to look like you know what you’re doing when decorating with a rug is to layer a couple of them! The layered look is totally borrowed from professional interior designers. Plus, it’s the perfect way to feature a rug that might not be big enough for the space. For example, in our living room, I loved the look of our vintage Turkish rug, but it wasn’t big enough. So I layered a larger bleached jute rug underneath and suddenly our floor covering is the perfect size!

My Best Rug Styling Tips — AKA How To Look Like You Know What You're Doing! #homedecor #rugs #layeredrugs #moroccanrugs #persianrugs #vintagerugs #turkishrugs #stylingtips
image by Ellie Lillstrom.

Don’t get too matchy-matchy.

I like to think of rugs like clothing for a room. If you’re wearing a patterned shirt, don’t layer on a printed scarf in the same scale and color. A good example of this is our bedroom rug combined with our wallpaper. The coral color is a beautiful complement to the navy blue, while the scale of the patterns are totally different.

You can also choose two rugs for the same space that are within the same color palette — but make sure they are different scales from each other to avoid feeling like they are competing with one another. For example, if your living room rug is mostly red, go with a coordinating tone of burgundy and smaller scale of pattern for the entryway rug. This will help the room look more curated and designed.

Choose an irregular shape.

Some spaces, especially in a smaller home, are too awkward for a traditional rug. Instead, I like to think ‘beyond the rectangle.’ Shop for irregularly shaped rugs like a cowhide, faux fur sherpa, oval, or round. Our dining room is a great example because we’ve featured both a cowhide rug and a round jute rug. The key is making sure it’s proportional to the space and your furniture.

My Best Rug Styling Tips — AKA How To Look Like You Know What You're Doing! #homedecor #rugs #layeredrugs #moroccanrugs #persianrugs #vintagerugs #turkishrugs #stylingtips

Choose a patterned rug for high traffic areas.

I cannot stress this rug styling tip enough!! Rug cleaning is expensive and time consuming. Save yourself the trouble by placing heavily patterned rugs in high traffic areas to avoid this!

Consider the pile height for each location.

Pile height is basically how thick the rug is. A tufted or shag tuft has a higher pile height because the yarns have been left longer. A flat woven or kilim rug has a lower pile height because it’s just woven and doesn’t have any shaggy bits. Some are better for different spaces. For example, I love plush, thick shaggy rugs for the bedroom because they feel extra-cozy. Conversely, I prefer a kilim for the kitchen because a flat woven rug is easier to clean if you spill food.

Extend rugs under furniture.

Nothing is worse than a rug that looks too small or like it’s floating! Instead, placing some of the rug under your sofa or bed can help anchor the space. I like to have at least a foot or two under the furniture. As for a dining room, I suggest selecting a rug size that allows you to pull out the chairs and still have them on the rug.

My Best Rug Styling Tips — AKA How To Look Like You Know What You're Doing! #homedecor #rugs #layeredrugs #moroccanrugs #persianrugs #vintagerugs #turkishrugs #stylingtips
image by Meghan Klein.

Always use a rug pad.

We like to joke that everything is a trip hazard because I’m so accident-prone. I swear by these felt rug pads to add extra cushion and to keep our rugs in place. You can also use anti-slip rug tape, but I’ve had much better success with rug pads. Also, I loved them when I was an apartment dweller for the noise softening properties. If you can’t find the size you need, get a big one and cut it down.

Mix vintage and new.

I am a firm believer in curating a mix of new and old. This can mean splurging on a beautiful vintage rug and mixing it with an affordable rug from a big box store. I mean, heck, even IKEA has some really beautiful rugs! Don’t be afraid to combine different styles, patterns, textures, and shapes.

Shop the sales.

A truly beautiful rug is an investment, one you can have for your entire life. That being said… they can also be expensive! Most rugs are handmade, which accounts for the higher prices usually. I suggest joining the mailing list of your favorite stores so that you’re the first to find out when they have a sale on rugs! Some of my favorite rug sources are:

  • Anthropologie — I used to design rugs when I worked there!
  • Urban Outfitters — usually very affordable.
  • Dash & Albert — they have the best indoor/outdoor rugs. I’m always shocked at how well they are made and how long they last.
  • World Market — very affordable and they have lots of sales.
  • Amazon — I’m always blown away by how many rugs they have… and that you can order with prime for 2 day shipping!
  • CB2 — tons of modern options.
  • Pottery Barn — traditional rugs that tend to go on sale often.
My Best Rug Styling Tips — AKA How To Look Like You Know What You're Doing! #homedecor #rugs #layeredrugs #moroccanrugs #persianrugs #vintagerugs #turkishrugs #stylingtips

I hope my rug styling tips help you next time you’re decorating a space! If you have other tips, I’d love to know them. Let me know in the comments!

Looking for more posts about rugs? Check out these:

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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