Choosing The Perfect Rug

It’s no secret that I have an infatuation and obsession with rugs. Rugs have the ability to bring personality and life to your living spaces and visually ground different areas of your home, adding interest and character. When sized correctly and chosen carefully, rugs can be a lifelong investment, a piece that adds to the story and thoughtfulness of your home. While it seems tricky, selecting a rug is easier than you realise when you know what to look out for. Getting it ‘right’ depends on a variety of factors, including the type of room and your lifestyle, which is why size and material is also important.

So how do you choose the perfect rug?

Here is our guide to finding your very own magic carpet!

Choosing the Right Materials

Figuring out what rug material is best for your space is essential. It’s important to consider how you use your space, what kind of traffic it receives, and how ‘cosy’ you want it to feel. Below is our quick guide to the most commonly used rug materials and the pros and cons of each.

Wool

The most common material used for rugs, wool is beautifully textured and incredibly durable, but also soft underfoot. Wool is a classic choice for any space and a natural material that is commonly found in hand knotted, tufted, flatwoven, and shag rugs.

Why we love it:

  • Extremely durable and great for high-traffic areas
  • Good stain and water repellency
  • Excellent insulating properties

Things to consider:

  • Shedding is a normal process that occurs with wool, but will subside over time
  • Not good for damp places as it absorbs humidity
  • Can fade if in direct sunlight

Best for: Bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, high-traffic areas (but we love it so much, so we’d say anywhere!)

Grass Fibers - Sisal, Jute and Sea Grass

Classic and timeless, grass fibres lend a touch of natural texture and effortless style to any interior. Their earthy palette and rich textures make them the ultimate design choice.

Why we love it:

  • Strong and durable
  • Renewable
  • Their neutral palette makes them extremely versatile, allowing them to sit beautifully in any interior style
  • Best suited for high-traffic areas
  • Commonly found in flatwoven or hand-knotted rugs
  • If you love to layer your rugs, grass fibre rugs are an ideal choice

Things to consider: 

  • Some varieties can be coarse and difficult to clean

Best for: Living rooms, dining rooms, hallways, high-traffic and sunny areas

Silk

Luxurious, highly detailed and lustrous, silk rugs are admired for their softness and subtle sheen.

Why we love it: 

  • Very soft and sumptuous feel
  • Ability for finer details in the design than wool
  • Natural material
  • Durability (don’t let its reputation as a fragile fabric fool you! Silk is still a durable material and quite suitable for weaving rugs, especially upscale art pieces)

Things to consider: 

  • Requires professional cleaning
  • Can show footprints

Best for: Bedrooms, low-traffic areas

Cotton

It’s most frequently used to make flat-weave rugs such as dhurries and kilims and is an easy, lightweight option for giving your room a quick ‘lift’.

Why we love it: 

  • Generally more affordable than wool or silk
  • Easy to clean

Things to consider: 

  • Doesn’t always wear well over long periods of time
  • Due to it’s lightweight, cotton rugs or dhurries may require an anti-slip underlay to prevent buckling or unwanted movement

Best for: Kitchens, children’s rooms, casual spaces

Leather and Animal Hides

Available as complete hides, stitched together to form larger floor rugs, or woven strips of tanned leather.

Why we love them: 

  • Both soft and durable
  • Unique pieces (especially hides)
  • Generally easy to clean

Things to consider: 

  • Not great for damp or humid areas
  • Leather can stain/absorb spills if not cleaned straight away
  • Depending on the hide, some shedding may occur (especially reindeer)

Best for: Bedrooms, offices, draped over chairs or sofas, lounge rooms, low-traffic areas

Eco-friendly PET

Eco friendly rugs are a UV-resistant option suitable for indoors or out. Ideal for outdoors, PET is crafted from recycled plastic making them extremely water-resistant.

Why we love them: 

  • Great for higher-traffic areas, indoors or outdoors
  • Water resistant
  • Easy to maintain, clean and are stain resistant
  • Extremely hard wearing
  • Moth resistant
  • Perfect in homes with pets or allergy sufferers

Things to consider: 

  • Synthetic fibres tend to have high Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Polypropylene (olefin) fibres are durable, yet tend to give a smell that some speculate may cause respiratory concerns.

Best for:  Indoor/outdoor rooms, patios, pool houses, high traffic areas

Choosing the Right Construction

The construction and quality of your rug makes all the difference and will determine the look, texture, quality, and longevity. Here are a few common rug constructions to note when choosing a rug.

Hand-Knotted Rugs

This is the most labor-intensive rug-making technique (and the construction we love most!). Weavers tie individual knots to the warp yarns that make up the length of the rug. Then, each yarn is hand-cut and hand-tamped for tightly constructed knots that form the surface, or pile, of the rug. Because they are crafted by artisans, no two hand-knotted rugs are exactly alike. The quality of hand-knotted rugs is unsurpassed.

Tufted Rugs

Tufted rugs are created without knots. Instead, loops of yarn are pulled through a frame-stretched fabric backing onto a drawn pattern using a machine or a hand-held tool. The loops are then sheared to create a smooth cut-pile surface. Since less work is involved than in the construction of a hand-knotted rug, even the highest-quality tufted rugs can be produced relatively quickly and inexpensively. Tufting uses loops instead of knots and was developed to create a plush, textural pile. One thing to note: Tufted rugs shed more than other rugs and may require more-frequent vacuuming.

Hooked Rugs

Hooking is similar to tufting, but the yarn loops stay intact. Loops of yarn are pulled through the rug’s backing material using a machine or a hand-held hooking needle. Instead of being sheared like tufted rugs, the loops are left alone, creating a knobby embroidered look.

Flat-Weave Rugs

Yarns are braided or woven directly onto a loom for a tight, long-wearing weave with a flat, low profile. Flat-woven rugs are made by hand or machine by weaving vertical yarns (warps) through the horizontal yarns (wefts). Because they are not woven onto a backing, the rugs are reversible. 

Choosing the Right Size

Living Room

When it comes to choosing a size for your rug, we always recommend ‘bigger is better’. A generously sized rug that extends under the furniture always looks a lot more glamorous and sophisticated than a smaller rug that only just frames the coffee table. Here are our recommendations when it comes to finding the perfect rug for your living room space.

Option 1: For a formal approach or a room that has furniture ‘floating’ in the centre, measure your living room’s seating area, and select a rug that’s slightly larger than your space. Ideally, all of the furniture in the seating area should fit on the rug with at least 20cm to spare on each side. 

Standard Sizes: 250x350cm, 300x400cm

Option 2: Take a “two legs on, two legs off” approach and keep this rule consistent with all sofas or chairs. This option works particularly well when you have furniture against a wall.

Standard Sizes: 200x300cm, 250x350cm

Dining Room

Your rug should be large enough to accommodate your table and all of the chairs when they’re pulled out – anything smaller will create an uneven floor level and a tripping hazard! Our suggestion would be to measure your dining setting (considering the style and size of the dining chairs you have - do they tuck under your table or sit out?) and choose a rug that extends at least 60cm or more beyond each side of the table. Choosing a rug made from stain-resistant materials such as wool is also a wise decision.

Standard Sizes: 250x350cm (or a 274cm diameter in a round style)

Bedroom

Option 1: For a glamorous, high-end look, the bed and bedside tables should all fit on the rug with at least 30cm to spare on all sides. 

Standard Sizes: 250x350cm (Queen), 300x400cm (King)

Option 2: Start the rug near your bedside table so it extends at least 90cm beyond the foot of the bed and on both sides. Remember: You will need to ensure you have enough room to close the door! If the rug extends too far and prevents the bedroom door from closing, you will need to go down a size.

Standard Sizes: 200x300cm, 250x350cm, or 170x240cm for smaller rooms with Double or Queen size beds close to the doorway.

Option 3: Consider using two runners to frame your bed instead, or 2 fur hides. For a cosy feel, we recommend a high-pile wool rug.

Kitchen 

Option 1: Place a small 60cmx90cm rug at the kitchen sink for a colourful, fun accent where there is generally a lot of foot traffic!

Option 2: I love a runner in the kitchen! A runner is perfect for long, narrow kitchens and entryways and is a great way to add interest and personality. Ideally it’s best to choose a runner that is similar in length to your island bench.

Hallway

For hallways, leave about 15-20cm of floor between the walls and the rug. Or, if you have a hallway that’s wide enough to include furniture such as stools or consoles, see a few options below:

Option 1: A long, central runner can be used down the centre of the hallway, with furniture pushed to the sides resting on bare floor.

Option 2: Position your runner on one side of the hallway and keep all furniture on the opposite side.

We would also recommend choosing a runner that will resist high-traffic wear.

How to Care For Your Rug

A few tips for keeping your rug in pristine condition:

  1. For lighter weight rugs or runners, we highly recommend using an anti-slip underlay to prevent movement and to protect your floor. 
  2. Consider rotating your rug every six months for even wear (and more often if certain parts are exposed to the sun more than others to ensure an even fade).
  3. Some rugs (such as tufted rugs) will shed more than others. Shedding is a normal process that occurs with natural fibre rugs and should subside after 6-8 weeks with regular vacuuming.
  4. To avoid damaging your rug, vacuum with the beater bar off, using a high-pile setting, and for shorter pile or vintage hand knotted styles, consider reducing the amount of suction on your vacuum cleaner, as too much suction can damage your rug.
  5. Keep your rug out of direct sunlight to prevent colours from fading. If your rug is getting too much exposure, consider adding window treatments to shade the sun and keep colors bright.
  6. Blot spills immediately with a clean, absorbent, light-colored cloth. 
  7. For outdoor rugs, shake them to remove dirt, or hose them off with a garden hose. Then let them air-dry in the sun.
  8. Professional cleaning is recommended for best results.