For relatively neutral decor, Jensen suggests including rugs with color and pattern so they can add vibrancy and visual interest in the room. “Conversely, a room already rich in color and pattern benefits from a solid-colored rug, so the room doesn’t feel overwhelming,” Jensen offered. Similarly, Thompson noted that a boldly colored rug with large or intricate patterning can overwhelm smaller spaces, creating an interior that competes for your attention while sticking with neutral tones “allows for playful exploration of dynamic textures and meandering patterns.”
Seek out a rug made with quality materials
As Thompson put it, the essence of a quality rug lies in its materials, ticking off examples of natural fibers such as jute, wool, hemp, silk and cotton, which tend to emit fewer harmful gases or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) compared to synthetics. These rugs come in a “variety of timeless colors and textures,” to match virtually any aesthetic, per Thompson. “Seek out textures or patterns with movement that help guide focus toward key focal points in the room without overwhelming the eye,” he added.
Zoom in on texture and pile
FYI: Pile is a term used to describe the density of the fibers in a given rug; flat refers to short pile and shaggy refers to long pile (pile height measures this length from the rug’s peak surface height to its backing). As Gallacher emphasizes, both texture and also pile heights play a big role in selecting the right rug for a room. “Pile height can create a lot of interest in the rug, as long as it is not movable furniture like dining chairs. For a dining room where the chairs will be moving in and out, it’s best to use one pile height,” says Gallacher, pointing out that for a living room where the furniture is more than likely stationary, you can play with varying higher and lower pile heights.
For high-traffic areas, Thompson says to opt for a shorter, denser pile rug, which will last longer and usually requires less maintenance. “Longer piles exude luxury with their tactile quality, but are prone to flattening and indentations under furniture weight,” he adds. Expanding on that, Gallacher singled out silk as a material that’s best to avoid as the main material or one of the more prominent elements in a rug for a high-traffic room, “since that will be harder to maintain.” Instead, look for silk elements as an accent in the rug, she says.
Shop our favorite area rugs
We’re swooning for custom rug innovator, Ernesta, which is all about creating designer-quality, custom-sized rugs at a more attainable price. The brand has a curated assortment of high-quality rugs in various styles, colors, pile heights, and materials, but we love this pet-friendly tufted loop rug that’s easy to clean and designed to last for the long haul. Plus, it’s pretty darn soft to boot. Order a detached rug pad for an additional $50.
Navy is the new neutral. This wool rug showcases a traditional medallion motif that is printed on a tufted base in a black and natural palette. Made by artisans in India, the comfy and durable yarn is 100% wool and the rug is made with a recycled cotton backing. Note: Shedding of loose fibers is normal when you first buy a new rug, but with regular vacuuming and a window of around three to six months, this will subside.
For area rugs particularly well suited for the bedroom, our vote is Saatva’s recently launched rug collection made from recycled yarns and plastics removed from the ocean, produced by Jaipur Living. The geometric pattern on the Terna handcrafted rug, a hybrid of cotton and wool, is subtle and superb. Additionally, we appreciate that it’s super plush on your feet. Choose from Ivory, Sand, or Graphite and in 8×10′, 9×12′, or 10×14′.
This hand-knotted rug is equal parts playful and elegant. Plus, “the neutral tones in this rug allow for versatility in design,” notes Jensen, adding that it can be used in a wide range of interior styles and color schemes without clashing with the surrounding decor. “Not only is it a practical choice for your current space, but a great option as your décor updates over time,” she says.
Another winner from the custom rug company Ernesta, this cozy wool flatweave rug comes in Indigo, Stone (a sand color), and Fog (off-white). We appreciate that this zen rug makes a clean, minimalist statement without being too bland. Add an attached rug pad that’s sewn on the back of the rug for $100.
Thompson calls this brand “simple, elegant, and timeless,” and we agree. He’s also a fan of the fact that the rug company suits diverse budgets. Though this rug is on the pricier side, the Indo-Nepali hand-knotted Tibetan weave and hand spun pile makes a lasting impression. Choose from Laurel, Cashew, or Natural colorways for this jute rug.
Thompson singles out this luxury rug company for its “amazing selection for both modern and traditional rugs.” We particularly adore this 7’10” x 10′ x 1″ flat weave wool rug for its ornate and regal pattern. “All the rugs carry phenomenal craftsmanship, and the staff is incredibly helpful and knowledgeable,” adds Thompson.
Looking to zhuzh up a dull color palette? Work in progress partnered with Los Angeles–based artist Jessia Poundstone to create five linear rug patterns, all inspired by natural foods. Peach, Wild Cherry, Cherry, Blueberry, and Avocado are currently on offer, with multicolored hues to match each colorway’s fruity theme. Each rug is hand-woven in India by a third-generation family-owned business using mid-weight, flat-weave cotton that has been hand-dyed using azo-free dyes.
This geometric design is woven on a rug made from 100% recycled polyester that is shed-resistant. Featuring a navy, pink, and natural color scheme, the chic piece is hand-made by artisans in India, so expect each rug to be slightly different and uniquely yours.
Flatweave 100% wool area rug? Check. Ideal for regular foot traffic? You betcha. A gorgeous diamond trellis pattern? But of course, with three colorways to choose from (Graphite, Slate, and Sand). Available in 8×10′, 9×12′, and 10×14′, this ethically made rug works delightfully on its own or even atop another carpet. Or, pair it with Saatva’s natural open-weave rug pad (this add-on starts at $145) to reduce slipping and bunching.