Buying a rug has many benefits - it helps to define a space, grounds furniture, absorbs noise, protects floors and feels nice to step on. If you have timber or tile floors, you should consider a rug.
1) THE RIGHT SIZE
Rugs come in a variety of sizes. The common standard sizes are 1600 x 2300, 2000 x 2900, 2500 x 3500 and 3000 x 4000. Since rugs define and ground a space, all furniture in that area should be touching the rug. At a bare minimum, this means the front legs of the sofa, armchair and side table in a living room should be on the rug. Avoid the common mistake of buying too small. Always err on the side of larger because it will make your space look bigger.
An exception to the above is in the dining area where the dining table and chairs should be well within the rug and still on it when you are sitting down. The reason is partly safety because you don't want the rug to bunch up as you sit down and create a tripping hazard. The rule of thumb is to add 900mm of rug around the perimeter of your table.
For bedrooms, the rug should be extending past 600mm on the 3 sides of the bed or the nightstands should be completely sitting on the rug.
2) KNOW YOUR WEAVES
There are four common types of weaves when making a rug. How it's made determines how it feels and wears.
The most traditional and labour intensive method is hand knotted. During hand knotting, the rug fibres are tied by hand on a loom. This results in better quality, is unique and more expensive.
A common weave is tufted style. This is created by cutting off the tops of loops of yarn to create a flat, plush surface. The tufted pile is attached to a latex backing. Tufted rugs are less labour intensive so are more economical.
The hooked weave is similar to tufted but the yarn loops are left intact instead of being sheared off. This creates a nubby, textured quality. Hooked rugs are less prone to shedding than tufted styles.
If looking for durability in high traffic areas, flatweave rugs are mat like without pile. They don't have a backing so they are reversible. This is great for changing the look when one side is tired.
3) MATERIAL MATTERS
What a rug is made from is very important because it determines softness, stain resistance, durability and price.
Naturally, wool is the most common fiber used. Moderately priced, sustainably sourced and naturally stain resistant, wool is a great choice. It also retains heat and has insulation properties.
Silk rugs are a luxurious option. It is one of the softest fibres and has a natural sheen. Be aware that it is much more delicate and expensive. Viscose (called art silk) is a man made equivalent that offers the same characteristic at a budget friendly price point.
Natural-fiber rugs are created from materials like jute, sisal, bamboo and sea grass. They’re most often used for flatweave or braided rugs. Natural fibers are eco-friendly and among the most affordable for rug construction. Jute and sisal can possess a scratchy texture that can feel rough underfoot, while sea grass and bamboo are smoother. Natural fiber rugs work best in dry rooms where there is low likelihood they will be stained, as they can be difficult to clean.
Cotton rugs are versatile, low-maintenance, and easy to clean. Cotton is not typically thick or rigid so it is machine washable. To this effect, high traffic areas like the hallway or kitchen are great for cotton rugs.
Polypropylene and other synthetic fibers are often used to make economical rugs for indoors or outdoors. The benefits of synthetic fibers are many, including superior stain blocking, easy care, and resistance to fading, making them an ideal choice for functional areas like entryways, hallways, or patios. In addition to polypropylene, polyester is one of the most common synthetic materials for these durable rugs.