Rugs 101: How to Choose an Area Rug

Area rugs are one of many decorative elements that can add a great amount of warmth, color, and texture to any room. As an important piece in the design scheme of your space, a rug also acts as the foundation for all of the other furnishings.

While a solid color, patterned, or even shag area rug may have the power to further enhance an already beautifully styled room, finding the right size, style, and type of rug that you not only love to look at but that also works in your space can be more challenging. So before you decide to shop for a beautiful rug, (from Cantoni of course) here are some “ground” rules to help guide you through the selection process.

1. Measure the Space

First and foremost, always measure your space before shopping for a rug. We also suggest outlining the area where you want your rug. This can be done with something as simple as measuring tape! When it comes to rugs, size matters…the size of a rug, not just its appearance can completely change the dynamic of a room. The dining room for example is a common area wherein it is easy to make the mistake of selecting a rug that is not big enough. You, however will no longer be guilty of this common mistake, thanks to this easy tip: Whether you have a round dining table, oval dining table, or long rectangular dining table, always make sure the rug size you select is big enough for the legs of the chairs to sit comfortably on the rug–even when pulled out for your guests to sit.

Rule of Thumb: Look for a rug that extends at least 24 inches around the table AND remember to keep at least 18 inches of floor exposed around all sides between the rug’s edge and the wall.  

While selecting the size of a rug for the dining room is a little more straightforward, the living room and the bedroom allow for a few different sizes and styling options. See our examples below!

Living Room

Selecting a rug size for the living room will obviously depend on the size of your room but also your furniture arrangement. Where a 5×8 rug will typically be placed under the coffee table, with the rest of the furniture placed off of the rug, an 8×10 rug allows for the furniture to be placed both on top of the rug or completely off of the rug, which creates a good sense of proportion too. A larger rug, like a 9×12, almost always allows for the furniture within the living room to be placed upon it and interestingly enough the bigger the rug, the larger it makes the room appear, so long as you follow the rule of thumb that at least 18 inches of bare floor be exposed around all sides between the rug’s edges and the wall.

Hermitage Area rugCantoni modern area rugsNyla Area Rug


For the bedroom, the size of your bed and the floor area that surrounds it will determine what rug size you should select. How you choose to lay down the rug will also determine what size to select. Generally, there are 2 different approaches. Rugs can be placed around the bed, with runners anchoring each side and a larger rug by the foot of the bed, or a rug can be placed horizontally under the bed with part of the rug exposed on each side. Our personal favorite? The latter…


 2. Type of Fiber

The type of fiber used in a rug is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a rug. What material you select will also be dependent on your needs and lifestyle. For those who have young children to consider or high-foot traffic, a resilient and durable material like polypropylene, cotton, or wool may be the better choice. Polypropylene is a synthetic fiber that is easy to maintain, often features bold coloration, and can be used indoor or outdoor for its UV, mildew, and water-resistant qualities. Cotton is a softer and natural fiber, which is also easy to maintain as well as clean. Another natural fiber is wool, which tends to last a long time, as it is more likely to retain its shape and natural characteristics.

Synthetic Fibers:
Acrylic, Polypropylene, Viscose, Polyester

Natural Fibers:
Cotton, Sisal, Jute, Wool

 3. Invest in Quality

Purchasing a rug is a big investment, due to the fact that it requires extensive labor. It is, however, a wise investment that will provide years of service and pleasure, so don’t be afraid to spend a little extra to get exactly what you want!

TIP: Take a look at the backside of a rug as it’s the easiest way to distinguish its construction–one of the factors in determining the quality of a rug. For example, the commonly used wool fiber along with the individual knots on the backside of a hand-knotted rug, distinguish this prestigious and high-quality type of rug construction.

Ready to get started on your rug shopping expedition? We sure hope so! And luckily for you, when you visit any 5 of Cantoni’s showrooms, you will also have the guidance and design expertise of our talented in-house designers (in addition to a wide variety of beautiful rugs to choose from, of course!)

Get a head start and browse some of our customers’ top-picks below!