A friend requested this post. She wants to know how and why one chooses a rug, specifically for living and dining rooms. So I gave it some thought and am tackling her questions here.
Why buy a rug? When you move into a home, the floors are generally covered in either a hard surface like hardwood (or less commonly, tile or brick) or wall-to-wall carpeting. I prefer the look of hardwood, so I choose to use rugs for three main reasons: (1) to provide warmth, (2) for comfort under foot (we are a barefoot family indoors) and (3) to add color and design. This is my rule of thumb for nearly every room in the house, the exception being the kitchen and dining room. I have debated over the years, but have decided not to use a rug in our formal dining room for practical reasons. I don’t want to worry about kids (or adults) spilling food or drink, which seems inevitable.
To illustrate: These bright Madeline Weinrib rugs add color and style to any room. And who wouldn’t want to walk barefoot on this plush rug from the Rug Company?
What size rug? There is no right answer to this question, so I’ll share my preference. For a living room, I think the rug should be at least as big as your seating area and I like it to fit under the front legs on a sofa. An exception would be if you had an animal skin rug, then I think you want to see the outline of the shape (or I would layer it on top of another rug). In contrast, a rug that sits under a dining table should extend far enough so that when a person moves in and out of the seat, the chair remains on the rug to avoid imbalance. Click here for a detailed guide on sizing.
These photos illustrate my preferred rug sizing in living rooms.
What type of rug? Choosing the type of rug really depends on your overall home decor. Is it casual or formal? Modern or traditional? Generally speaking, however, I prefer something more neutral and plush for a living room. This is where I would invest the most in a rug, which can vary significantly in price. You want this to be an inviting area to relax, entertain, etc. For a dining room, I would go with a flat rug like a cotton dhurrie or sisal. Since dining chairs often remain stationery, I like to avoid lasting indentations on a more plush rug and wear and tear caused from sliding the chairs back and forth.
To illustrate: The left photo shows a sisal rug works well in a dining space, or as is my preference, just hardwood floors on the right.
Where to find a rug? Here are some of our favorite sources: