We’ve got polished concrete and wood floors in our home, so for us, carpets are out and rugs are definitely in. But does that mean we need them in every room – especially the living room where we have an open fire?
Having an area rug in your living room is a personal choice. While they do add warmth and color, help soundproofing, and create a style statement, they can also become a trip or slip hazard if not properly fitted.
Let’s dive down into the subject of living room rugs in more detail, and find out if we do actually need one, how to choose the right one – and how to position it properly in relation to the walls and furniture…
Should Living Rooms Have Area Rugs?
If you have living room floors of wood, laminate, vinyl planks, or even wall-to-wall carpet, chances are your living room needs an area rug.
But wait – time out! What the heck is an “area” rug anyway and why is it such a big deal? An area rug is by definition a rug that doesn’t cover a room’s entire floor wall-to-wall – only a part (or area) of it.
As to why it’s such a big deal, an area rug doesn’t just cover up some bare floor. Sure, area rugs in hallways and kitchens can protect your floors and make them easier to walk or stand on. And yes, they are great for soundproofing and insulation.
Area rugs draw furniture together. Define a space. They can also add personality, color, and texture to a room. Designers say to add area rugs, throws, and pillows to personalize a room. But of those three accessories, by far the one with the biggest bang is – the area rug.
Rugs are big. Bigger than pillows and throws.
Let’s face it, many stock pieces of furniture for sale today are a little bland. Furniture manufacturers choose styles and fabrics that will be widely marketable, and we are all stuck with their choices.
Not so area rugs. There are thousands, if not millions, of area rug choices. Every color of the rainbow. Solids and multicolored. Flat or textured. Ones with a modern style or an ancient one.
You can have your heart’s desire with an area rug.
How Do I Choose The Right Rug For My Living Room?
Before you choose an area rug, you’ll need to think about colors, styles, size, and fabric. Sound overwhelming? Many rug websites can help with free virtual room planners so you can choose your rug and drag around virtual furniture.
Color is the foremost reason to add an area rug to your living room and it’s a very personal choice. Whether you like vibrant, modern colors and patterns or traditional natural ones, go with your gut here.
In the world of area rugs, size matters – and bigger is better. The number one mistake many new rug buyers make is purchasing a rug that’s too small. Designers say to always get the biggest rug you can afford.
Of course, you don’t want a rug bigger than the room, so measure first. Pick a rug size so that the rug will have at least 6 inches and up to 20 inches of bare floor all around. Don’t forget to consider closet doors that have to open and windows that may stream damaging sunlight.
You can mark out your proposed rug outline on the floor with blue painter’s tape, use a free virtual room layout planner, or make a sketch with a piece of paper and pencil. Position your furniture around the rug space, placing either all four legs, just the front two legs, or no legs at all on the rug.
People will walk around your living room, so don’t forget to consider walkway space. Either the area rug should not be in the walkway at all or it should totally cover it. People should never have to walk half on, half off of an area rug.
The fabric of the rug is a matter of style but also practicality. Got toddlers? How about pets? If you have messy family members, then choose an area rug that is washable or hides stains. Or both.
For example, heavy pile rugs are beautiful and luxurious but don’t clean up well. And, most are too heavy to move outside for a good shake. Consider instead a natural fiber flat weave rug or a soft polyester rug that resists stains and are lightweight enough to haul outside.
Here are some inspirational area rugs.
How Do You Place a Rug In The Living Room?
Start by clearing your space. If you can, move the furniture out of the room. If you can’t, move it aside. Layout the rug in the center of your living room space.
Begin out by aligning the long edge of the rug with the longest wall or the longest piece of furniture, usually the sofa.
There are many designer opinions on the way to place furniture around – or on – the area rug. Depending on the size of the room and rug, you can place all four legs of the furniture on the rug, or just two legs, or no legs.
If you opt for an all legs on design, be sure to give at least 8 inches of space between the furniture and the edge of the rug, so the rug doesn’t look crowded.
If you simply don’t have the space for all legs on, then front legs on is also a good choice. In fact, front legs on is the design most often used.
For a front-legs-on arrangement, the front legs of the furniture should rest several inches into the rug.
If you opt for the all legs off – or floating – layout, then experts say to start out by putting your coffee table entirely on the rug. Then, arrange the furniture in a way that is cozy and sociable but proportional.
Here’s a good article with tips about finding and placing the perfect living room area rug.
Should I Put a Rug In a Small Living Room?
Believe it or not, an area rug in a small room will make the room bigger. When you put a large, light-colored rug in a small room, the human eye is drawn to the large rug, not the small room. Go as big as you can – even put all four legs on.
Here’s a great video with lots of small space hacks.
Can You Really Have A Cozy Living Room Without a Rug?
Well, yes. If you really don’t like area rugs, then there are several ways to cozy up a living room. Got fireplace? A fireplace is mega-cozy.
You can also warm up a living room with warm colors of paint and furniture. Look for warm fabrics for your furniture like velvet. Stripes can add warmth as well. Drape sofas with throws and add pillows.
Add textural details like bricks, stone or even fabric on the walls. Add warm, reflective copper pieces. Brighten the room with warm lighting. Consider radiant heat flooring.
What Are The Main Benefits of Area Rugs In The Living Room?
The main benefits of having an area rug in your living room are many and varied:
- Adds color to the room. Some new houses and new furniture can be bland and homogeneous.
- Adds your personal style statement with design and texture.
- Living room unification and definition. Area rugs pull together disparate furniture pieces and define the space.
- Portability. Area rugs can be moved from room to room for fresh looks and you can roll them up and take them with you to the next house or apartment.
- Cleaning. You can clean most small rugs yourself, or you can send them to a rug cleaner.
- Price. Area rugs are very affordable. Or, you can spend a lot and have an heirloom.
- Area rugs can hide stuff. Old floor? Red wine stain? Bits of food?
- Warmth. Rugs add insulation to cold floors.
What Are The Disadvantages of Having a Rug In The Living Room?
There are some disadvantages of having a rug in the living room too though:
- Rugs can hold moisture.
- May hold allergens. From skin particles to micro-organisms, area rugs tend to trap and hold allergens, unlike hard floors.
- Smells. Unlike hardwood, stone, tile, or vinyl flooring, rug fibers can absorb smells.
- Can be slippy. Area rugs are pretty famous for walking when placed over wall-to-wall carpet. They can also slide underfoot when placed over a hardwood floor. Be sure to add non-slip pads.
- Tripping hazard. For those with balance and gait issues, rugs may not be for you.
On balance, my personal preference is that having an area rug in your living room is a good idea.
It not only gives warmth to the room and aids soundproofing, but it also enables you to stamp your design mark on the living room in terms of style and color.
The good news is that a relatively big and good quality area rug needn’t be expensive, so they’re a win-win in my opinion. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry James started Castle of Mine to bring you the best articles on home improvement, based on his years of experience in homemaking projects. Read more >