How to Choose Accent Rugs to Fit Your Interior Design Style and Budget

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( — January 21, 2019) — Anyone who has ever had the privilege of enjoying the Cohen Brothers’ classic film “The Big Lebowski” would certainly agree that a rug can, in fact, really “tie a room together.” While many interior design firms primarily focus on walls, fine furnishings, and ceilings, it seems that the importance of floor décor is frequently overlooked.

With a good rug, you will be able to make a statement about your own personality while also subtly complementing all of the other decorations already existing in the room. A good rug will be able to be noticed without being too loud and will also be expressive without being too distracting.

However, while some of the “goals” of buying a rug may be immediately obvious, knowing which rug will work the best for your particular space can sometimes be much more difficult. Choosing the wrong rug may change the entire energy or overall theme of the room that you are currently decorating.

Fortunately, even if you have limited experience with interior design, there are many basic principles that can help you discover the rug that is right for you. In this article, we will discuss the most important decisions that will need to be made throughout the process of buying a new rug. By making an effort to compare the different options that are available, you will be much happier with your final decision.


How much space do you have to work with?

Naturally, the first—and arguably most important—“constraint” in the rug buying process will be the amount of space that you have to work with. Purchasing a rug that is either too large or too small can create long-term design problems that could have otherwise been avoided.

In order to know what size rug is right for you, it will be helpful to begin by measuring the overall size of the room it will be in. You will also need to determine the specific purpose of the rug itself. For example, an area rug may utilize more than 80% of the available floor space in the room. Rugs that are purchased for coffee tables, entry ways, and other purposes will be usually be much smaller. It will also be important to account for the portion of the rug that will be concealed (placed under furniture or otherwise obstructed) and the portion of the rug that will be visible to those in the room.

What is your current budget?

There is a tremendous amount of cost variation throughout the rug and carpeting industry. While some rugs can be purchased for $50 or less, others can cost upwards of several thousand dollars.

There are quite a few variables that impact the cost of a rug:

  • Size and materials used
  • Design process (factory produced versus created by hand)
  • Complexity of design
  • “Novelty” features (Turkish and Persian rugs typically cost more)
  • Prestige of the supplier

If you are operating on a tight budget, then some of the features mentioned above may be negotiable. Though quality and price certainly have a very strong relationship, this relationship is very rarely completely linear.

Accounting for Color and Light

If you ask anyone who is familiar with interior design about the design elements they believe to be the most important, color will surely be among the most highly valued. Color has a direct impact on the relationship between each of the objects in any given room. Choosing the wrong color rug can be absolutely detrimental.

There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to choosing rug colors. Sometimes, it will be most appropriate to choose matching rugs that have a color similar to the dominant objects in the room (furniture, wall decorations, etc.). You may also want to consider purchasing a rug that is similar in color without completely matching (monochromatic). Blending light blue and dark blue, for example, can create a very clean feel.

The other school of thought will tell you that the color of the rug ought to be complementary. Orange furniture with blue rugs can create an aesthetic that is assertive, yet carefully balanced. Other complementary colors—such as black and white—may help give your interior space a much fuller degree of character.


The importance of light should also not be overlooked. Windows, lights, glass doors, skylights, candles, and any other sources of light can have a major impact on how a rug (of any color) is perceived or experienced. If the room is already very bright, you may want to consider getting a darker rug. Dark rooms, on the other hand, stand to benefit from generally brighter interior design schemes.

Juxtaposing Simple and Complex Designs

One of the best ways to develop your taste for interior design is to understand the usefulness of juxtaposition. By positioning two features that are characteristically dissimilar to one another can create a powerful aesthetic while also highlighting both objects most dominant traits.

As a general rule of thumb, anyone whose interior space is already “complex” (significant amounts of wall art, patterned furniture, etc.) should consider purchasing a simple rug in order to create balance. On the other hand, spaces that have a relatively simple design scheme may benefit from the introduction of an elaborate Persian rug.

Other Important Details to Consider

The details mentioned above can certainly help make the rug buying process much easier, but there are other essential characteristics that should be accounted for as well. Many of these variables will depend on your personal preferences and your intended use for the room.

  • How “tall” do you want your rug to be?
  • Will the rug usually be used by people wearing shoes? Socks? Barefoot?
  • Are you hoping to create a more formal or personal aesthetic?
  • Which designs match your already existing decorations?
  • When shopping for rugs, were there any that have really stood out from the others?

As is the case with most things, the more thought you can put into buying a rug, the more likely you will be able to find the one that is objectively best for you. Some people prefer tall, shaggy rugs that create a very comfortable environment. Others will prefer creative designs, formal symmetry, or rugs that can be easily cleaned in the future.


Anyone who is hoping to find a rug that “ties the room together” clearly has a lot of thinking to do. By paying attention to these important details and working within your pre-established perimeters, you should be able to navigate the competitive rug market with ease.