Area rug shopping tips | Vancouver Sun

The area rug defines the dining space in this open concept layout by Lori Steeves of Simply Home Decorating.

Tracey Ayton Photography

Time to decorate your new condo! If you’re starting with a blank slate and working with the existing hard-surface flooring like engineered hardwood or laminate, put the area rugs at the top of the design list, says Lori Steeves, founder and creative director of Simply Home Decorating, a boutique design studio that specializes in interior decorating.

Steeves has a from-the-ground-up approach and advises selecting the area rug first and basing other design choices on that decision.

“There are more colour choices in sofas and drapes than there are in [area rugs]” she says. “Start with the limiting piece first because if you do a whole scheme and then you’re looking for a carpet to ‘match’ you’re going to have trouble because there just aren’t as many options of carpets in the dimensions you may need.”

She advises using area rugs to anchor a zone in an open-concept space.

Placing at least the front legs of furniture on an area rug advises Lori Steeves of Simply Home Decorating.

Tracey Ayton Photography

“Having an area rug under the living room furniture helps to visually separate the space. Often in a living room you want a cosy feel and some sound absorption so layer a big area carpet underneath the furniture,” she says.

To determine the size area rug you need, Steeves has a “levels of luxury” process. The level most people have in their homes is to plan for all the front legs of furniture – such as the sofa and occasional chairs – to be on the carpet.

“The ultimate luxury layer is when all the furniture is fully sitting on top of carpet,” she says.

While deciding on an area rug’s pattern and colour is challenging enough, budget is also often a factor, says Steeves. For a living room, it usually needs to be a nine-by-12 feet and often larger.

“The nine-by-12 is typically the largest standard size available — sometimes one can find a 10-by-14 feet but that’s more rare and the price skyrockets above a nine-by-12,” she says.

In bedrooms with hard surface floors, area rugs add texture and colour and the all important cosy factor, especially during the cooler months. Referring back to her “levels of luxury” model, Steeves says while one could add an area rug at the foot of the bed, the ideal is to have a large enough carpet under the bed and extending three or four feet past the end of the bed and then up the sides to within about 10 inches of the nightstand.

She suggests a nine-by-12 feet area rug can “just” work for a king size bed and an eight-by-10 feet for a queen, although it’s a little scant. Although the result is a lot of the area rug is hidden by the bed it makes up by being a major contributor to the overall ambience of the space.

Runners – area rugs that are long and narrow – are often used in places like a home’s front entrance and in a galley kitchen or between an island and perimeter cabinets in a larger kitchen.

“These runners are subject to a lot of foot traffic,” notes Steeves, adding it is essential to have a good non-slip gripper to ensure they don’t move or present a tripping hazard.

Before you start shopping for an area rug Steeves has these tips:


You need to measure the space and establish the size area rug you need. Take into account traffic patterns so you don’t have a corner of a carpet in a traffic area – often a corner can curl up a little and become a tripping hazard.

Colour and pattern

Decide on a colour or pattern that fits your design style. There are options for those who prefer something very plain or an organic look with florals or vines or a geometric pattern. They all lend themselves to different styles and should be considered when you’re deciding what will work best in your space.

Try before you buy

If you are buying an area rug for a room where there is existing furnishing and décor, purchase a few and try them in the space before making the final decision. The direction of the pile (the density and height of the fibres) affects the way the colour looks, and it may look different in the store. At home, turn it 180 degrees so you can see if the pile creates a different colour – usually there is a light and dark side – and decide if it suits, and which way you prefer it be placed.

Daring design

Area rugs are a great way to bring colour into a home and a saturated or bright colour is not as ‘shocking’ as for example, a red sofa or red accent wall. It’s an opportunity to be a bit more daring because a lot of the surface area of the rug will be covered with furniture so it breaks up the colour.


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