How to Pick the Perfect Rug for Every Room (According to an Expert)

Rugs can make for a fantastic finishing touch, livening up empty corners and providing a softer feeling underfoot. If you’d like to incorporate some rugs into your home but aren’t sure how to choose the right material, shape and size, read on for our top expert tips, courtesy of The Cinnamon Room.

How can homeowners determine the ideal size for their rug? What kinds of measurements should be taken?

The Cinnamon Room: It really depends on the room and the kind of space you’re trying to fill. Standard stock sizes often follow a tried and tested formula. For instance, 2 x 3 metres is a great rug size for a living room with a larger sofa, a dining area with a grand table or a bedroom with a king-sized bed.

If you’re shopping for the living room, you should always measure the couch. A dining area rug would require measuring the dining table with the chairs pulled out a bit for eating. Rugs should neither be so big that they overwhelm the space, nor so small that they don’t anchor the furniture, as it will appear like it’s aimlessly floating in the room.

Is it better to match the rug to the size of the room or the size of the furniture?

Open-space living can make matching the room impossible. In that case, match the rug to the area based on its function, such as dining, relaxing or sleeping. Match the size of the furniture if the furniture is the focal point and you want to visually anchor it.

How should one go about choosing the shape of the rug?

Rectangular rugs are the most versatile and thus the easiest to pair with most settings. Square rugs are less versatile because they don’t mirror the proportions of most rooms. They also tend to cut up the space and are overall less fluid to work with.

Round rugs are great for big spaces with a lot of angles, as they introduce some curves and soften the overall look. They can also help to anchor any underutilised corners and floating areas without interfering with other angles.

Should runners only be used in corridors or do they have other uses as well?

Kitchen areas are great for runners, especially breakfast bar areas. Or long galley kitchens for something soft underfoot. You can even pair two runners (one on each side of the bed) when the space in your bedroom is limited. It can be handy to have that controlled coverage when you just want to frame the bed.

How do you recommend picking the right colours for your rug?

This one is definitely about personal preference. Ask yourself what your favourite colour scheme is and if you enjoy something bright. Do you want to inject some colour into the space? If you really like colour and your room is already very colourful, don’t turn it into a circus with another colourful rug. Instead, place down a black and white rug, as it matches with everything and makes enough of a statement to hold its own and not look out of place.

You can also introduce colour with cushions and smaller accessories that can be switched out easily instead of a large rug if you’re scared of a large pop of colour. If your room is very neutral already, lift the space with a colourful rug that adds some contrast, or match a colourful item of decor (like artwork) to draw the eye and keep things visually pleasing. It’s always gotta feel right to you.

Do you prefer to pick the rug first and then choose the rest of the decor to match, or do you like to leave the rug for last?

People who choose the rug first are usually very confident in their design skills. I’m a firm believer that you should always pick something that you adore, so if you happen to find a rug you love, feel free to design around it. But if you’re not that confident, pick the necessities first and the rug later to complement the look and add that finishing touch.

You have a lot of unique laser-etched and metallic designs in your shop. How do you recommend styling them? Do they require any extra care?

Those designs are very popular because they are often neutral while proving that neutral isn’t boring. They add a very chic and contemporary touch to a neutral design scheme. The rugs also adapt to the light conditions, lifting any darkness and changing the vibe depending on the time of day.

I recommend pairing metallic rugs with something really chic to enhance that luxurious feeling. Laser-etched rugs can be styled in any room; they add something interesting to the overall look. There’s no extra care involved with these designs, just the same rule that goes for our other hide rugs—no harsh chemicals! Because the rugs are crafted with the metallics sunk into the hide as opposed to sitting on top, they can be treated as per normal.

How many rugs are too many? How can homeowners determine how many rugs to get for each room?

It would be good to define each area with a rug. The living and dining areas, as well as the entrance, can often be enhanced and anchored with a rug. The sleeping area too if it’s a large bedroom.

It depends a lot on the size and proportions of the room. A big open-plan space could easily have three rugs, but a smaller, closed space can be overwhelmed by the same number of rugs. It’s not about the room but about the functional areas in each space.

Can you share some tips for combining and layering multiple rugs? What would you avoid?

Go for similarity of texture, tone or colour. You can pair hide with dhurrie if they have similar tones. You can pair two hide rugs with an overlapping natural element. This will ensure flow and continuity in the design scheme.

You should avoid placing random rugs all over the room just for the sake of covering spaces. You should also avoid clashing materials like jute and metallics if you’re not confident, as it can lead to clashing—it will only work if the proportions are perfect and you’re very good at interior design.

Try layering rugs that just barely overlap but still have individual areas. Remember, layering isn’t always needed and can often be overwhelming if done in excess.

You’re a big fan of hide rugs as they’re durable and easy to clean. What other materials do you recommend that are low-maintenance and long-lasting?

Our PET Yarn rugs, which are made from recycled plastic bottles and dyed yarn. They are technically outdoor rugs but they come in really nice designs and the yarn is of such high quality that it’s very soft and easy to clean, so the rugs work just as well indoors.

Can you run us through the difference between various rug materials? Who would you recommend each type for?

Hide rugs are essentially made of hair on leather; they are done as a patchwork, very unique and luxurious. They can come with metallic accents and laser-etching as well. I’d recommend them if you’re looking for a chic and luxurious feel but they’re definitely on the pricey end.

Dhurrie is lower in cost but hand-woven as well. It’s more casual in look and a popular choice for children’s rooms.

Jute rugs are often used for the outdoors, but they actually disintegrate after some time when constantly exposed to water, so they’re better suited for indoor spaces. I’d recommend them for a boho-chic design scheme.

Our new PET Yarn rugs are very soft and sustainable as they’re made from recycled plastic bottles and dyed yarn. Other companies stocking these rugs often make them for the outdoors, which means that they are rougher and not as soft underfoot as ours.

Are there any rug materials you believe are overrated or that you just personally don’t recommend?

Polyester. Those rugs just feel uncomfortable. I also don’t recommend high-pile rugs in our humid climate, there’s too much dust in our homes and they get too hot as well.

Bamboo silk rugs look beautiful but they’re very hard to maintain, they stain with water and are so expensive. Not very practical and definitely not worth a few grand, especially for families with young children and pets.

What are some considerations homeowners should have when choosing a rug material? What are some things they often forget to consider?

Rugs shouldn’t just be aesthetically pleasing but practical too. Look for something low-pile so it’s cooler and doesn’t trap dust for easy maintenance. Hide rugs are super hardwearing and easy to clean, making them family-friendly. Dhurrie rugs can be hand-washed or dry-cleaned. PET Yarn rugs can be hosed down, no water damage or mould.

Many people forget to think of the ease of cleaning and end up with something that needs to be dry-cleaned all the time. Also, think of the heat—don’t pick a wool rug in Singapore.

What are some of the most common ways that rugs get damaged? Do you have any tips for avoiding these?

Buy a rug that’s easy to maintain. Ensure that the traffic is spread out by rotating the rug occasionally. Don’t place anything on the rug that you have to drag across. Weight is fine but try to lift heavy furniture instead of dragging it to avoid leaving marks and damaging the rug for good.

That’s another advantage of low-pile rugs: the pile returns to its original state much faster than with high-pile rugs, which end up looking flattened for longer.

How can homeowners balance budget and style when shopping for rugs?

It’s about value for money. Don’t opt for something too cheap as it won’t last long. Opt for something that won’t fall apart, as you’d have to pay double in the end. PET Yarn rugs are very affordable, come in interesting designs and are sustainable as well, plus easy to maintain. Cotton dhurrie comes at different price points. Jute is cheaper but has to be replaced more often.

If you have a tight budget, prioritise the living area when you go shopping for rugs. It’s a space for the whole family and for entertaining guests, so it should be cosy, welcoming and soft underfoot. You can always place rugs in other areas of the home further down the line.

Are there any rooms that rugs aren’t as suitable for?

The kitchen doesn’t always need a rug, as it’s mopped pretty frequently. Unless you have a very large kitchen, you don’t really need a rug there. In the bathroom, a bathmat or PET Yarn rug is a much better pick than a classic rug as it will be easier to maintain in the humidity.

Opening image courtesy of Swiss Interior.