I started working for Orian Rugs less than a year ago. In that short time, I’ve learned a few things about area rug construction and sizing. More importantly, though, I’ve learned that area rugs have a funny way of taking people out at the knees.
So, if you’re shopping for the perfect rug right now and find yourself stressed, unsure, frustrated and feel like you’re chasing your tail . . . welcome to the party! Here’s what you need to know while you’re here:
1. Your friends/family/neighbors don’t know what they’re doing either.
Regardless of how “together” someone else’s room seems, they started at the same place you stand now – on a bare floor, scratching their head about how to choose an area rug. So, take a deep breath and let yourself off the hook. The good news/bad news of this revelation – there is no magical formula that ensures selection perfection. Buying an area rug is more of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” rather than a romance novel.
Right now, you’re likely starting at one of two points:
- You have a fully-furnished living space and need an area rug to fit into your existing style. Welcome to the majority! As luxurious as completely starting over sounds, most of us are simply working to change things up a bit. To choose your rug, browse inspirational photos online to find furniture and décor styles similar to your own. Then, shop for an area rug that rings the same bells. Just don’t get too attached. You might start changing your mind as you consider a few other factors. For now, though, you advance to 2.
- You’re starting from the ground up – with either no furniture or a plan to replace everything you own. Hello ambitious one! What a fabulous undertaking! Starting from the ground up gives you two distinct starting points: a. “I love this area rug so hard and I simply can’t live another day without it. This is my new soul mate!” If this is you, pack your bag and move on to 2. b. I want to create a certain aesthetic in my home and don’t necessarily have a rug in mind so much as I have a “look” or “feel” that I want to accomplish.
Your best bet here is to simultaneously make rug, furniture, paint and accessories selections – keeping in mind that you might want to change your mind as your project moves forward.
For example, let’s say you want to create something very Farmhouse. You look online and pin 53,000 images from Joanna et al. Then, you go about finding the particular pieces. You choose a beautiful Benjamin Moore blue for the walls, find the perfect sofa and accent chair and discover the Orian Farmhouse collection.
Your heart sings when you see the Grand Turk area rug in cerulean blue – and on you go. Except that, when you actually paint the walls, you realize that you’ve overdone it with the blue and steer towards the same rug in Driftwood or choose a lighter blue and white combo, like Passing Ships in seashell.
Now you see how small adjustments to the expected area rug outcome get you to the same destination with a slightly different route. Now you’re free to set sail for area rug sizing – Point 2.
2. One size does NOT fit all.
Sizing befuddles the brilliant, so you can simmer down. Paying attention in Geometry class instead of passing notes with your BFF wouldn’t have you feeling any more confident. I promise. Some of the brightest people I know have sent messages (after learning of my Orian Rugs employment) to please help them understand how to choose the right size area rug.
Alas, if there was one gloriously easy formula for instant satisfaction, we would never see another bare floor! Oh no, variables and naked floors abound.
To help you muddle through the murky size waters, we’ve put together some helpful reference material – like a blog and infographics – to serve as a step-by-step guide to choosing the right size area rug for your room. In the meantime, though, consider whether you want some, all or none of your furniture on the area rug.
- If you want all of your furniture on the rug, measure the size of the room – allotting space for a border of the existing floor around the edges of the rug.
- If you want only the front legs of the furniture on, place your furniture in the room and measure accordingly.
- If you want no furniture on the rug, a 5×8 area rug will likely serve your needs beautifully.
However, you have to keep your unique space in mind when choosing rug size and furniture arrangement. A 5×8 rug will be lost in a 5,000 square foot home, but will generously complement a Manhattan studio. Quite the variable, huh?
Another important consideration: transport and placement. The bigger the rug, the heavier and more awkward it is. So it’s important to know how you’ll get it home and, subsequently, placed. If you’re shopping for a shag or some other fluffy rug and can’t handle the weight, consider placing 2 5x8s side by side and pushing the pile together to hide the seam.
3. Material matters.
The material you choose will determine the care and wear of your new area rug – so don’t just buy something because it looks good. You absolutely must consider that funny side effect called ownership. Ho-hum.
Wool, silk, cotton and other natural yarns typically come with high-maintenance care routines. I can’t speak to these as I don’t have any real experience with them. What I do know, however, is that synthetics are incredible.
I know, I know . . . the word synthetic is doused with polyester-laden images of 70’s shirts. But, the new synthetic is like anything you’ve ever felt before. And it all starts with a little something called “extrusion.” The yarn extrusion process is the art of transforming resin into a sublimely soft yarn that not only feels amazing, but is also stain-resistant, non-fading and easy-to-clean. Read that again, wine lovers . . . stain resistant.
Personally, the easy-to-clean part opens my ears. I don’t have time for fussy care routines. Plus, I don’t need the pressure of ruining a crazy expensive wool or silk rug. I mean, I’m adulting . . . but only barely. So, I’m not trying to get carried away with the number of things I’m in charge of caring for!
I digress. Polypropylene area rugs are truly a godsend for people who, like me, want to entertain their friends and family without getting warped about Aunt Joan and Cousin Donna having exaggerated conversations with full glasses of red wine. These rugs are made for real life and daily living. But, they’re luxurious and beautiful enough for placement in high-end spaces.
In addition to looking at the yarn material, you’ll also want to check out the backing. If your rug contains jute or cotton, only use it indoors. There are 100% polypropylene rugs that are approved for indoor or outdoor use, but if there’s jute or cotton in the backing they’re inside-only. The label should indicate if your area rug is an indoor/outdoor rug, but if there’s question, look at the materials list.
Here’s why: natural fibers – like jute and cotton – are susceptible to moisture. This means that you need to be careful about placement AND care. This includes spot treatment. When you spot clean an area rug with a jute backing, take time and care not to douse the rug with cleaning solution or rinse water. Yes, dabbing takes ages. Do it anyway.
Not only will the wetting and drying of the backing cause buckling and warping, it will also speed deterioration. I, personally, want my rugs to last until I decide I’m ready for a change. And speaking of change, we’re on to the point 4.
4. It’s okay to be fickle. Great rugs are available at approachable price points.
As a consumer, one of the biggest roadblocks to my buying a rug was my penchant for redecorating. Because, I thought, that until I hit the numbers, my bank account determines the extent to which I can update my rooms. To my happy surprise – that’s not the case!
What I have learned during my time at Orian is that there are rugs designed to appeal to trend and rugs designed to last a lifetime. And both can be shockingly affordable. Yes, trendier pieces will time out and you’ll want to buy a new area rug faster, but if you’re smart about your selection, the decision to update won’t break the bank.
Just don’t disregard the timeless patterns on account of building a trendier space. Many “new traditional” rugs feature classic patterns in updated color palettes – which means you can use a timeless style in a trend focused space. When the furniture phases out, the rug remains relevant and you’re able to put new pieces on top.
Or, you can find a new life for the old rug elsewhere in your home. For example, when I bought my new house, I took the runners that used to flank my bed and made them at home in my kitchen. Then, I bought 3 new rugs for the bedroom because I like a layered look. Maybe your living room rug moves into the office area and the dining room rug gets a place in the guest bedroom. Do-si-do . . . you get the point!
Whatever you choose, know that buying an area rug doesn’t have to break the bank. There are countless area rugs out there at very approachable prices. And, if you make a mistake or things go awry, don’t despair! Check the return/exchange policy of your retailer of choice. Also know the warranty available on your new area rug by the manufacturer.
Orian works with TONS of great retailers who offer easy returns and exchanges. Plus, the company covers the rugs for one-year from the purchase date to protect consumers against defects.
Of course, if you simply tire of your new look quickly and long for a refresh, re-home your rug within your home! It’s okay to be fickle about home fashion. That’s the fun of interior décor!