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hamptons style living room with blue and white diamond hamptons rug

Expert Guide: How to Choose a Rug Style for your Space

Choosing a rug style for your room can be tough. What makes it even tougher; rugs can be pricey! That puts a bit of unnecessary pressure on a person to lock in the right one.

Today I wanna try and remove some of that angst for you by talking through some of the things you should consider before you buy a rug. And these rules are pretty universal. It doesn’t matter if the rug is for your living room, dining room, master bedroom or guest space. The advice is all the same.

So let’s jump right in to how to choose a rug style for your space. And do drop me a comment below if you need more help.

black and white geometric rug in living room with dark herringbone timber floor

Always Start with Size (it Matters!)

If you’re not cracking out the tape measure here, you’re doing it wrong!

Size is one of the most important factors in deciding which style of rug to buy for your space. Because even if you choose a rug that fits in with the vibe of your room, having it too small can ruin all of your efforts.

Have a think about how much of the floor you want the rug to cover. Perhaps you’re not entirely sure of this, so here’s some pointers on rug sizes for a few different rooms.

Rug size tips for living room, dining room and bedroom:

  • In a living room, use the length of the front of your sofa as a guide
  • The rug can be a little longer than the sofa, but not shorter
  • In a dining room, ensure the rug is a meter wider than your dining table
  • Doing the above will ensure you can move chairs out and they’ll still sit on the rug
  • For under your bed, ensure the rug comes out either side of the bed
  • Ideally both sides of the rug will line up with the edge of your bedside table

I have a dedicated post on rugs for dining rooms that you can see here.

Metricon Homes Provincial trader Design - Living Room

Let’s Avoid Size Blunders

One of the biggest mistakes people make is buying a rug that’s too small for the room. Truth is, a rug should take up a fair amount of visual real estate, so you need to go large.

And I know why so many of you end up with smaller rugs: price and availability. Sadly, a lot of retail stores only stock a standard 160 x 220 cm. And that’s often not big enough for most spaces. It’s definitely cute in a smaller living room, for example, but it’s not large enough to make a generous impact in a roomier space.

You often have to go outside of your local chain stores to find a rug that’s going to do the trick. I’d advise looking online at the sizes available first before you even hit the stores. Time is precious, don’t waste it going into a store that doesn’t have your dream rug!

Once you have your rug size locked in, it’s time to consider one more element before you dive into the rug style itself. And yes, it’s a little boring, but necessary!

luxe dining room with black and white diamond rug and gold dining chairs

Now onto the Boring Part: Function

I know, I know, I’m asleep already! Function can be such a buzzkill when you’re considering how to choose a rug style for you room. The reason for this is that practicality can often deem your dream rug null and void.

That’s why you gotta take some time to think about how you live day-to-day before you buy. And not only how you live and how you’ll use the rug, but how other people will too.

That’s right; you gotta take your partner into consideration, your kids, your pets, people who come over. How everyone is going to interact with the rug will impact which fibres or materials your rug is made from.

coastal living room with grey sofa and blue and tan cushions from metricon

A Few Ideas on Rug Materials…

For example, if you’re after an affordable option for a dining room, a durable synthetic rug might be best. It’s super easy to clean and care for, and food won’t get trapped in the fibres. If you have kids or pets, this is a smart move.

For softness underfoot in your living room, you might like a wool rug. It too is durable and the added bonus is that it’s great for high-traffic areas because the fibre will bounce back. A shag is a great option here too, but can be trickier to clean.

Your bedroom might benefit from something natural and woven like a sisal, or even a hide rug to bring warmth to the room. Because you’re unlikely to spill anything in this space, you can go for a more sensitive fibre. But again, think about how you use the space (you might eat in bed, which I’m completely OK with).

The best piece of advice I can give you is to go into the rug store or showroom knowing how you live at home. Then, armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to tell a staff member the size of rug you need, and also the material you’d like it to be made from.

Make sure you ask the retail staff about cleaning instructions and check tags on the rug itself. I know we’re focusing on how to choose a rug style here. But you don’t want a gorgeous rug style that’s a pain in the butt to clean!

brown and beige modern living room with round timber coffee table

How to Choose a Rug Style: The Lead, Support or Extra

Now that you know the size and material you’re after, it’s time to consider how to choose a rug style. But it’s actually more important to think less about the style and more about how the rug will impact the room.

People get very caught up in styles. They fuss over whether the rug is a Hamptons rug, or a Scandi rug or a coastal rug. Truth is, the design style the rug is classified as really isn’t very important. It’s far more vital to think about whether the rug is the lead, supporting player, or extra in the room.

Let me elaborate on this analogy for you below…

Metricon Homes - Black Label Interior Design Scheme - Chevron rug in living room

The Lead

A rug that is the focal point in the room, where your eye goes the moment you walk into the space. It’s likely to be bright in colour or feature a bold pattern. It might even have embellishments on it like tassels. The furniture and decor in the room takes its style cues from the rug. It’s without a doubt the ‘wow’ in the space and all the other elements take a back seat to it.

The Support

The rug has personality but doesn’t overshadow the room’s focal point. If there’s a bold piece of art in the room, or a dramatic pendant/chandelier, the rug doesn’t compete for your attention. Rather, it supports the wow moment. The rug might feature a similar colour or pattern seen in the art, but it’s not as dominant. You can see how it talks to the focal point stylistically, but it never overshadows.

The Extra

A necessary part of the room but it takes a back seat. You barely notice this rug in the space. The room would look odd without it, of course, but it’s not a design element that stands out. Often these sorts of rugs are plain and neutral in colour, might have no pattern at all. They can often be textural; more for function that to punctuate the scheme.

I Know, it’s an Odd Analogy

Thinking of a rug as an actor in a TV show or movie is an odd concept, sure. But when it comes to how to choose a rug style, I think it’s easier to understand when put like this.

And as you scroll through the images in this post, you’ll get an idea of whether the rug is the lead, support or extra in the space. And once you get your head around the concept you’ll be able to look at any interior and understand how it was put together a littler easier.

And now, you get to decide if you want your rug to be the lead, support or extra.

coastal dining room with blonde timber dining setting and grey feature wall

New Space vs. Established Room

If you’re just replacing the rug in a room you’ve been in a while, then the focal point is already chosen. It’s going to be the rug you’re getting rid of, an artwork, a table, a pendant. If there is already a dominant moment in the room, you know the rug you go out to buy is going to be the support or extra. And then you can choose with that in mind.

And if you’re working with a blank canvas, that’s even more fun. You get to choose if you want your rug to be the lead, support or extra. Make sure you mood board your room and come to figure out which element you want to stand out.

built in study nook in metricon display home office with hide rug

Rug Shape is an Important Factor too

When figuring out how to choose a rug style, shape is another factor to consider. And there really are some quick and easy pointers I can give you here. Shapes can play as big a role as colour and pattern can when it comes to how they’ll impact a space, so it’s worth covering off.

Here are some things to keep in mind about rug shape…

A rectangle or square rug is going to bring structure and formality to a room. They’re great for under beds and in living rooms with chaise lounges. They’re the most popular option because even if the sizing is a little off it can still work in the room.

A round rug is a great idea to ground a reading nook like this one in a corner. It also looks great underneath a round table in your dining room. It can soften a room with a lot of clean lines/hard edges, but often they work better in large spaces.

Hide rugs, or any other style with a fluid shape, can make a space feel relaxed. They’re a great way to soften a space or to fill in a gap in a room where a rectangle or round rug won’t work. The photo above is a good example. The room would look quite odd without it.

living room with white sofa and pink and maroon cushions from metricon display home

The Rugs in this Post

I know you’re going to ask me, so I thought it best I let you know. All of the rugs in this post are featured in rooms from Metricon display homes across the country. For the most part, I can’t tell you the suppliers. Metricon hire a lot of the furniture and decor they use in displays, and in many cases the rugs are discontinued.

I do encourage you to take a look in display homes though. If you see a rug you like, the tag is usually underneath one of the corners. Display homes are also a good way to see rug shapes, sizes, colours and patterns up close and personal. So many retail stores just have them hanging up and it can be so hard to visualise what they’ll look like in a room with furniture on them.

So if you are struggling when it comes to how to choose a rug style, go see them in homes for yourself.

I get a lot of questions about the rug from the hero image in this post. The home in question is the Metricon Bayville. You can explore it more here. Sadly the rug is discontinued and the supplier no longer sells it. I know, I’m gutted too!

I hope this post has helped you figure out how to choose a rug style for your space. Drop me a comment below if you need more help!

This post includes images and/or videos of Metricon display homes and events, reproduced with permission.  © Metricon Homes Pty Ltd 2016.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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16 Responses

  1. Hi Chris
    Do you have any suggestions for a rug 4m x 3m to go underneath an American Ash table; on Italian Terracotta tiles. I do have photos if necessary
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Janet, so many options! Depends on the whole room not just the table and floor. I can’t give specific advice but would suggest finding a rug retailer that will let you trial the rug in your home.

  2. Hi Chris, does the rug need to be big enough not only for the coffee table but for an adjacent arm chair to sit on? About to buy so would like to check measurements, thanks.

    1. Hey Miriam, ideally yes the armchair should at least touch the rug or sit on it slightly like the couch. But rules can always be bent or broken if you have an eye for it.

  3. I have been looking for the style of rug in your living room display – white with blue diamond cross rug.

    Where could I purchase this rug from


  4. Woohoo. I’ve favourited this page, we’re in the market for a rug for our lounge and I’m not creative in the sense of interior design. Priceless information and tips.

  5. Hi,
    I am just wondering where the rug in the first picture blue and beige is from it’s the perfect one I have been looking for?

  6. Chris, What make is the first rug in your article which, was very helpful. The one that interests me is the blue and cream one, it is beautiful. Marese.

  7. Exceptionally insightful, Chris! The actor analogy is very innovative, I love it. For me, rugs are always the lead and something that should be treasured. When the person who makes it pours his or her heart and soul in the rug that’s something you instantly notice much like you’ve mentioned – the rug is the first thing your eye goes the moment you walk into the space. The furniture and decor take its style cues from the rug – oh my God, I love this sentence, so true and clever! Thank you so much for this wonderfully written piece of art!

  8. Hi Chris, this is an awesome article and such a huge help! The inspiration I need to start my rug search. Lisa

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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