There is so much to think about when selecting an area rug. We're here to help make sense of what you should consider when choosing the right area rug for your living room.

The living room is one room in your home you are sure to spend a lot of time in.

More importantly, the floor of the living room is a place for horseplay with the kids, playing fetch with the dog, or maybe some quiet time and self-reflection with some yoga at home.

However you plan on using this room, the area rug underfoot can be the key to bringing together a room’s look and feel. Choosing the best area rugs for your living room can seem like a daunting task, but we’re going to make it a little easier with these tips.

How to Pick an Area Rug for a Living Room

We recently interviewed Warren Haseltine, a Senior Designer at Masterpiece Design Group, about designing model homes and some tips and tricks to update your space. He had the following to say about area rug selection:

"An area rug can be a powerful design tool. They can act as artwork for the floor or simply provide a complementary background for the other décor in your room.”

When choosing the perfect area rug for your living room, you need to consider:

  1. Size and placement
  2. Style (color and pattern)
  3. Function and texture

Game Room With Area Rug

Size and Placement

Area rugs are offered in several sizes: 3x5, 4x6, and 5x8, 8x10, and 9x12. You could also consider getting one custom made for special room sizes.

The rug should anchor the seating arrangement and doesn’t have to fill the whole room.

A good rule of thumb: select a rug that leaves at least a 1-foot border between the rug and the walls.

Warren says, “I usually let the room guide me to select the right rug size for the space.”

Open-Concept Living Room With Area Rug

Just as the rug size will set the feel for the room, the rug placement in the living room is equally important.

  • For a more expansive feel: Maybe just the coffee table sits on the rug.
  • For a balanced feel: Pull this off best when one part of the furniture is against a wall.
  • For a cozy feel: Use the largest rug, anchor an open-concept space, and create a defined seating area.

The area rug should fit totally or partially beneath all major furniture in your living room.

Warren mentioned that he likes the rug to go under the furniture or at least for all the front legs to be on the rug. “This helps ground and define the space,” he advises.

Look for something not too big and not too small, but just right.

Pro tip: To help visualize how a rug would fit a space, tape it out on the floor to see how it would fit.

Style (Color and Pattern)

Next to painting an accent wall, updating, changing, or adding an area rug is an easy way to change up the feel of a room for relatively low cost.

Living Room With Colorful Area Rug

Here’s what Warren says about color: “I usually don’t go as bold with the colors in the area rug as I do with pillows or artwork. What I find works best in my model homes is a slightly toned-down version of colors to complement the rest of the space.”

When it comes to pattern, Warren says, “When selecting patterns and textures I usually let the other décor help decide the correct choice. If my space already incorporates lots of patterns I usually take a muted approach like I do with color so that the space does not feel too busy.”

Take your time picking the area rug. It’s going take up a lot of real estate in the room, so it needs to be just right.

Function and Material

When considering the best material for area rug in a living room, you want to think about how you live in your living room and pick your area rug accordingly.

  • Wool—naturally low-maintenance, stain resistant, cozy, soft, warm, most resilient, hides dust and soil, fire retardant, antibacterial, fade resistant, minimal upkeep but can shed, highest quality, great for extra cushion
  • Cotton—Will stain but easy to wash, best choice if prone to allergies good for high traffic areas, feels good, tight weave helps keep pets from clawing
  • Jute—made from a grass found in Asia, rough and low-comfort, better in low-traffic areas, soothing on your feet, low-maintenance, doesn’t like water/moisture, can stain
  • Sisal—made from the leaves of a cactus plant, brings organic feel to the room, versatile, durable, good for high traffic, feels rough underfoot, can stain
  • Polypropylene—durable, good for high traffic and pets, easy to spot clean, plastic fiber, resistant against moisture, doesn't fade, can use outdoors
  • Leather, hides, and hair—unique, contemporary look, doesn’t trap allergens, cleans up easy, good for high-traffic areas
  • Viscose—made from regenerated wood cellulose flammable, offers a luxurious look, nice accent for cotton or wool
  • Nylon—prone to fading, but water and stain resistant, good for high and low traffic areas
  • Silk—glossy, luxurious, best for low traffic because it’s delicate

Jute Area Rug

It’s important to know your household (children, pets, multi-generational family members, etc.) to be able to determine what material is best suited for you.

Measure your space, pick the right material, and place your rug right.

Area rugs are easy to change out if you get bored with the look it provides or if it gets stained beyond fixing.

You can get lots of living room area rug ideas by browsing our professionally decorated model homes to get even more inspiration!



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Aisha Coleman

Have questions about interior design? Looking to take on a DIY home project? Interested in discovering new things to do in your hometown? Ready to learn about the new home construction process? Aisha can help! With over a decade of experience in her role as Internet Sales Manager in M/I Homes of Orlando, Aisha's ready to share a wealth of knowledge on all these topics and more. You can trust Aisha's insights as she is a Florida local and enjoys spending time with family by either traveling or relaxing at one of Florida's many beaches.