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How to use rugs like a design pro

Area rugs are multifaceted actors in your home decorating show. They come in all shapes and sizes and with myriad roles to play. Use them as an easy way to add character, color or texture to your home décor. Use them on any surface, in any room or hallway, or even hang them on the wall to add a bit of interest to an otherwise flat, painted wall.

Athena Area Rug at Morris Home

The role of the rug

Before the selection process begins, decide what role you want your rug to play:

  • Will it be a focal point? In this case, you’ll want a rug with bold, bright and contrasting colors.
  • Will it define a furniture grouping? If so, make sure that the rug will be large enough so that all furniture pieces within the focal area are partially or completely touching the rug. In this way, the rug defines the conversational area.
  • Will it be used to enhance the room’s color scheme? Select a rug that captures the room’s dominant or accent color. Do not select a busy rug when the room’s patterns and color scheme are busy, as well.
  • Will it be used to add warmth or texture to a room? Select a rug with warm, neutral colors. Such rugs are ideal for separating zones in homes with an open floor plan.

Basilica Area Rug at Morris Home

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Selecting the proper rug size and shapes

One of the most common reasons that rugs are returned is because of improper size selection. Appropriate rug size should be determined based on furniture configuration and not on room size alone. Here are some examples of rug sizes and shapes for three rooms where rugs are often used:

Living room #1 – Rug in front of the sofa

  • A rug that is 5’x 8’ , or approximately as long as the sofa, is recommended
  • If possible, leave a few inches of exposed floor between the rug and sofa to accent furniture. If the rug is under the coffee table, make sure it is long enough to rest on all four legs of the table.

Living room #2 – Rug under front legs of the sofa. Back legs can be on or off of rug depending on preference

  • A rug that is 8’ x 10’ or larger is recommended
  • A good rule of thumb is to leave 18” to 24” between the wall and rug to create a border of exposed floor that frames the furniture arrangement. Spacing should be equal on all four sides
  • Other possible shape options: square

Living room #3 – Entire furniture configuration on rug

  • A rug that is 10’ x 13’ or larger is recommended
  • Leave 12” to 18” of exposed floor to create a border around rug, on all four sides, if possible
  • Rugs can often be custom ordered to ensure a perfect fit

Dining room

  • A rug that is 8’ x 10’ or 8” round is recommended
  • Select a room-sized rug that allows enough space for all chair legs to remain on the rug when chairs are comfortably pulled away from the table.
  • Other possible shape options: square, oval, octagon


  • Recommended rug options: 5’ x 8’, 8’ x 10’ , 8’ round
  • Place a large rug under two legs of the bed, making sure that the floor is visible all around the bed.
  • The rug should extend at least 24” in length and width from the edges of the bed
  • Other possible shape options: runner


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Types of rugs (based on how they are made)

Once you have determined the size of the rug, it’s time to decide what type you want. Rugs are made using a variety of methods and materials, resulting in very different looks and textures.

Hand-knotted weaving

  • This is the most intricate, labor-intensive rug weaving process in use today
  • Longest lasting, durable construction, less shedding

Cut pile tufting

  • Hand-tufted, easier to construct than hand-knotted
  • Typically made of wool
  • Look for high density in the fibers.

Looped pile tufting

  • Similar to cut pile, but these are hooked in to create loops, resulting in a different surface texture
  • Shed less than cut pile rugs

Shag pile tufting

  • Typically made on hand-operated looms with plush, twisted and slightly felted yarns
  • Moderate shedding if made of wool; minimal shedding if made of polyester
  • Has deep pile (hence, shaggy appearance)


  • Referred to as dhurries or kilims
  • Woven on a loom rather than knotted
  • Constructed from wool, cotton, or synthetic materials
  • Pattern can be viewed from both sides
  • Have flat appearance

Caesar Area Rug at Morris Home

Feeling a little overwhelmed?

The professionals at Morris Home can help you find the perfect rug to fit your specific needs. Not only do they have nearly 1000 rugs in a wide variety of sizes, styles and colors to choose from, but rugs can also be special-ordered at any Morris Home Showroom Design Center.