How to Choose the Right Area Rug

Since y'all seemed to really enjoy last week's post on how to find affordable abstract art (thanks for the great feedback!), I thought I'd start covering some other common design dilemmas on the blog. This week, we'll chat all about area rugs!

One question I get a lot from clients and friends alike is how do I choose the right rug for my room? Goodness, I could write a novel on this subject since there can be many, many nuances to this decision, but I'm going to try and keep things as simple as possible so we don't get lost in the proverbial weeds. If you have questions after you finish reading the post, let me know in the comments!

Rugs can be a pretty hefty investment, but they can do a great job of pulling a room together, so you want to get it right the first time if possible! If you follow the general guidelines below, you'll be well on your way to picking one that will both look good and serve your needs well into the future. Of course, no design rule is hard and fast, but rules do exist for a reason, so if a rug isn't looking right in your home it may be because it goes against one or more of these guidelines. 

Let's get into it!

The three most important factors to think about when you're choosing a rug are:

  • Size
  • Style
  • Material

Striking a balance between these three things will help guide you toward a rug decision you'll feel good about at the end of the day. Let's talk about each one.

Choose the right size:

Read more about our living room here. Rug is from here*.

Read more about our living room here. Rug is from here*.

In general, I'd say that bigger is usually better. Rugs can be expensive, so folks will sometimes buy a smaller rug in an effort to save some cash, but please don't do that! A well-sized area rug works wonders for a room - in both comfort and style. If there's a rug you absolutely love, but it only comes in a small size, or the larger sizes are cost prohibitive, try layering that one on top of a larger one. I see this a lot with vintage and one-of-a-kind rugs.

The "rules" for choosing the right size rug vary a bit from room to room, so let's talk about three main ones: living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms.

In living rooms, ideally you either have all the legs of your furniture sit on top of the rug (so that you have a "frame" around the seating arrangement), or at a minimum, place the front legs on the rug. A large rug like this helps ground the space and gives everything an anchor. As you can see in our living room above, the front legs of the accent chair are on the rug and the back legs are on the wood floor. Our sofa is completely on the rug. 

In dining rooms, a good rule of thumb is that you want to be able to slide your chair in and out without the back legs leaving the rug. This usually means you need 24-30 inches of rug extending from all sides of the table. There's nothing worse than "picking up" the edge of a rug with your chair legs when you're pulling in your chair at the dinner table, right?! :)

In bedrooms, you have some flexibility. Most commonly, you see a rug placed under a bed so that it forms a "T" with the bed. Another is to use two runners - one on either side. In either case, you want enough rug to be sticking out far enough so that when you walk on it, you can keep both feet on it comfortably (not one foot on the floor, one foot on the rug). More of a numbers person? For a queen bed, use a rug that's at least 6'x9' and for a king, at least 8'x10'.

Last hint: if you're still not sure what size rug you need, try marking out different sizes with painter's tape on the floor.

Choose the right style:

Rugs have the ability to set the tone for a room. One of the first questions to ask yourself is do I want the rug to be the star of the show or more of a supporting actor? Your answer to that will help narrow your options and keep you focused in your search. Maybe you want it to be the focal point, or maybe you want it to fade into the background so that something like a special piece of art can be be the attention-grabber.

Another great question to ask is how do I want the room to feel overall? Cozy? Playful? Formal? Casual? The rug can play a big role in giving off the right vibe for the space.

After you've answered those two questions, then it's time to decide on more specifics like solid vs. pattern, and choosing color(s).

Choose the right material:

Rugs are made from so many materials these days! Traditionally, they've been made out of wool, cotton, and other natural fibers like jute, but now you've also got manmade fibers like polypropylene and acrylic. Unfortunately, there are a lot of low quality, but very pretty rugs out there these days, and it's easy to get sucked into purchasing them. It can be hard to know what you're buying, and price doesn't always correlate with quality (ugh!).

If you want a rug that will last, your best bet is to go with a wool or other natural fiber rug. It will generally serve you well for a long time and stand up to lots of foot traffic. 100% manmade fiber rugs (especially those described as being "power loomed") typically won't last as long and can look cheap, even if they look beautiful online! I'm definitely not saying you should never purchase one of those rugs (in fact, Dash & Albert's indoor/outdoor polypropylene rugs are some of my faves), it's just that it's sometimes difficult to know what you're looking at.

To make sure you're searching for quality construction and good materials, use keywords like woven, or hand-tufted. If you stick to those, you'll be well on your way to finding the right one!

Two other things to consider when it comes to materials are texture and pile. Think about how you want it to feel on your bare feet. Sisal, for example, is quite scratchy, but very durable, while wool is typically softer, but has a coarse feel to it. Pile has to do with the height of the rug off the floor. Personally, I prefer a lower pile rug paired with a thicker rug pad. Rug pads are crucial! They will keep rugs from slipping around and provide extra padding if needed.

Lastly, I feel like I need to make one more disclaimer - I'm a big fan of the idea that sometimes "done" is better than perfect, and that budget is usually the limiting factor at the end of the day. Having a rug at all is better than no rug, so if at the end of all this you end up with an inexpensive, man-made fiber rug in your living room, that's ok! No judgement from me, I promise. My goal is to help you be able to make an informed decision so you're not surprised by something when it arrives at your door. 

So tell me, do you find choosing a rug to be challenging? What tips or tricks have you found that help you pick a good one?

If you want to remember these tips for later, Pin the graphic below! 

Rugs used in graphic from top to bottom: Cami Tufted Rug, Ikat Grey/White Rug (also used in this Modern Farmhouse Bedroom), and Heirloom Wool Rug

Rugs used in graphic from top to bottom: Cami Tufted Rug, Ikat Grey/White Rug (also used in this Modern Farmhouse Bedroom), and Heirloom Wool Rug


*Affiliate links have been used in this post, which means when you shop through them, I earn a small commission at no cost to you (no markup). Thanks for supporting Mix & Match Design Company in this way!


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Best Of: Anthropologie


Nemus Bench || Talma Tasseled Throw || Haverhill Dining Chair || Magnolia Curtain ||  Oscarine Lucite End Table || Meralda Rug || Helen Dealtry Floral Euro Pillow || Linen Edlyn Bench || Geo-Marquetry Nightstand || Keramisk Decorative Stoneware || Marbled Knob || Embroidered Elsa Pillow || Tufted Yoursa Pillow || Swimming Pool Wall Art || Angelica Lamp || Stripeside Dish Towel || Gold Accent Candle || 

Welcome to the "Best Of" series! Each Friday I choose a retailer and feature a roundup of my favorite products. If there's a particular shop you'd like to see, please leave a comment, or use the contact form with the subject line, "Best Of Request." To see all the places I've featured in the series, click here.

Anthropologie* just released their spring home collection, and man, it's beautiful! I swung by one of their locations this week to see some of the newest items, and pick up the House and Home catalog while I was at it. It's full of bright colors, pretty florals, gorgeous subtle details, and unique pieces - I'd definitely sign up for a few of these to make their way into my home. Everything feels so fresh, which is perfect for this time of year when the weather is starting to turn (for the better!) and we're starting to see signs of life outside. Hooray for those brave crocuses and green buds on the trees making their presence known, am I right?

But back to Anthropologie...I think of the pieces in their home collection as investments - a purchase from there can be a splurge, but I always encourage folks to take a "save and splurge" mentality when it comes to buying items for their homes. If you spend a little more on a special piece or two that you love, be prepared to scale back on some other purchases and things tend to even out. (And yes, it's totally ok to do something like stick an inexpensive lamp on top of an Anthro credenza! I give you full permission.) For those of you with who have some flexibility on budget for that room makeover, definitely check out Anthro's upholstered items - I've seen many of them in person and can speak to their stop-you-in-your-tracks beauty and great quality.

On the flip side, if you've dismissed this company completely in the past because of their higher priced items, I'd challenge you to take a deeper look through the collection. They do have some items that are reasonably priced, especially some of the smaller furniture items, accessories and decor pieces. You can get "the look" by popping in a couple of throw pillows on your sofa or bed, or by adding some of their fabulous decorative hardware to a less expensive piece. I have some really simple, modern Target dressers that I'm thinking would look amazing with the addition of those marbled knobs I included in the roundup. Even one or two items from Anthro can have a big impact on a room.

We all value different things when it comes to furnishing and decorating our homes - you may think it's worth it to spend a good chunk of change on a coffee table, while someone else might think that's outrageous. Remember, your home is your home, no one else's. Be thoughtful, but also trust your gut. If you need some guidance, I'm here to help too. If you have a burning decorating question, you can always use my contact form to submit it (a single question is completely free!), or get started with one of my e-design packages if you're ready to go the whole nine yards!

So there you have it, friends. Another "Best Of" post is in the books! This series will be coming to a close in a few weeks, so if there's a particular store you're dying to see included, let me know!

To shop this post, you can either use the links under the image at the top, or hover over the items in the image below. Simply hover over the item you're interested in (or tap an item with your finger if you're on a mobile device) and click on the black and white plus sign that pops up. If you're on a feed reader or receiving this in your email, you'll need to click over to the full website to use this tool. 

What are your favorite items to shop for at Anthropologie?



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My Favorite Sources For Affordable Abstract Art

1. "Deep Haze" by Ilana Greenberg | 2. "Abstract Art Print, Pink and Gray" Artzaro | 3. "Abstract Watercolor" by Azzari Jarrett Designs | 4. "Ivy" by Parima Creative Studio for Minted | 5. "Saxon and Diamond" by Lola Donoghue | 6. "Peppermint Moss" by Lindsey Letters | 7. "Eliza" by Parima Creative Studio | 8. "Enchant" by Minted for West Elm | 9. "Pink Polka Dot" by Britt Bass Turner | 10. "Spencer" by Michelle Armas | 11. "140729-2" by Jaime Derringer | 12. "Dance in Blue" by Katie Craig for Minted*

In my book, a beautiful piece of art has the power to take a room from just ok to fantastic. Great artwork can be a conversation starter, the perfect focal point, a mood setter...I'd even go as far as saying a space is incomplete without it! One of my favorite art categories is abstracts - they're easy to incorporate into just about any room in your home and there are so many different styles, you're sure to find something you love.

I'm guessing a lot of us don't have the budgets (or time!) to shop for original art or visit boutique galleries, but fortunately, there are lots of art prints out there you can purchase and frame that won't break the bank. Unfortunately, if you try to Google "affordable abstract art," 1,940,000 hits come up (sheesh!), so how in the world are you supposed to know where to start or even begin to narrow the options down? How do you find the good stuff?

Well, it's your lucky day! I've done a lot of research over the years for both myself and clients, and I'm letting you in on some of my strategies for finding awesome art sources and artists. At the top of the post, I rounded up some great pieces from different places to help kickstart your search, and below, we'll chat about how to begin your own search. (Side note: nearly all the pieces I gathered up are less than $200 for a good size print. Some of them even come framed!) Banish those bare walls, my friends.

Now let's strategize - when it comes to starting your own search, you can go one of two directions: 

  • Hunt for an individual artist and search their collection
  • Go to an aggregator website and start a more general search there

So how do you go about finding individual artists?

There are two mediums I've found to be most successful: Instagram and interior design/decorating blogs. Artists tend to be active on Instagram since it's such a visual form of social media. You can search hashtags like #doitfortheprocess and #artistsofinstagram and browse that way. Once you find a few artists you like, Instagram will start to show you similar accounts under the "search" tab. I've found some of my personal favorite artists this way, including Britt Bass, Emily Jeffords and Kelli Kroneberger

When it comes to interior design blogs, it's not as much about searching as it is finding designers/bloggers whose tastes match yours, and seeing what kinds of art/artists they use in either their own homes or clients' homes. If you love their style, I'll bet that eventually they'll use a piece of art you love, and hopefully they'll be willing to share the source! Studio McGee is a great example of someone who does this consistently. In fact, one of the pieces she used recently in a home is in my roundup at the top of the blog! ("Ivy" by Parima Creative Studio, below.)

Individual artists will often have a website you can shop directly, or if they don't, they might list their pieces/prints on Etsy, which leads me to my next way to find affordable abstract art!

Search for art using an aggregator:

An aggregator (that's just a fancy word for a website that collects related items together all in one place) is a great tool, but they can sometimes be overwhelming! I have had the most success - in terms of amount of time spent to find the right piece - by using some of the more curated websites. They've done a lot of the hard work for you, so if you find a site that matches your taste, make sure to bookmark it/Pin it!

Here are some of my current favorites:

Minted: this is my #1 right now. They have a large selection of artists and styles, but it's not too overwhelming. Their search filters are fantastic - they help you narrow the selection down quickly and easily so you can find what you want. Another plus for Minted? You can have your print framed before you buy so it's ready to hang when you receive it.

One King's Lane: they have a well-curated collection in a wide range of price points. You can definitely find affordable prints, but they also have high end items, so be aware of that when you're shopping. They carry prints from some of my favorite individual artists, which also gives them a big thumbs up!

Etsy: I tend to get overwhelmed by Etsy since there's really no curation (anyone can open a shop), but there are a lot of real gems on there. I actually tend to use Pinterest as my search tool for Etsy since lots of bloggers, artists, etc. have done great round ups that have been pinned by others. If you search things like, "Best Abstract Art on Etsy," you'll be able to narrow your search more quickly and go directly to some great shops. Another tip: once you find a shop you like, make sure to favorite it so you can find it again later! There's nothing worse than trying to remember the name of it and coming up empty. And finally, Etsy has one cool option over the other sites I've mentioned: instant downloads. If you're in a pinch, or just ready to get something on your walls, search for instant downloads you can print at home or at your local print shop. you definitely have to do some digging on this site, but again, there are great pieces to be found! Their prices are very reasonable, and they often have sales. I also like that they have lots of "finishing" and customizing options - you can choose from several sizes, and have a print framed, printed on canvas or metal, or just on paper. It can be a one stop shop, which makes it a very convenient resource once you actually find the right piece!

Well that post ended up being longer than I expected! If you made it all the way to the end, congratulations to you. :) I hope this was a helpful primer in finding affordable art!

If you have any favorite sources for affordable art, let me know about them! Drop me a line in the comments below, or hit me up on Instagram!

 *Disclosure: Links found in this post may be affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission from your purchase at no cost to you (no markup). Thanks for supporting Mix & Match in this way!






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