The following list is meant, as a kind of check list for you, before and during your search for your new area rug. It is an abbreviated version of what is provided in much more detail on this website, so I would encourage you to check out what is provided for you here.
Also, this list is in no particular order. It is simply designed as a guide to assist you in your decision making process. The one exception would be determining what size of rug you will need. This is where you should start, so for that reason I put it at the top of the list.
Your new rug should frame your space and tie it all together. When you see it on your floor you need to feel as though it is the “one for you”. Choosing an area rug is like choosing a piece of art for your wall. This is art for your floor, and an investment, so take your time and enjoy the process.
Finally, arrange to take it home and look at it over the course of a few days. Look at it at different times of the day, to see what it looks like under different light. Most quality retailers, both bricks and mortar and online, will give you the opportunity to trial your rug. Online retailers will often give you 30 days, just know that if you return it you are generally required to pay for return shipping.
1) Size and Shape: The operative word that comes to mind here is, “balance”, and as I mentioned earlier your new rug should frame your space and tie it together. It’s critical that you measure properly and determine what size and shape your rug needs to be. What room is the rug for? If it’s the living room, will you have the legs of the furniture, on or off the rug? Will a standard size rug “fit”, or will you need to have a custom rug made. MOST IMPORTANTLY - DO NOT CHOOSE A RUG THAT’S TOO SMALL!
2) Budget: I have seen it suggested that your rug should match the price of your sofa, if for example your rug is for the living room. Of course this is both a matter of personal preference and of common sense. I am assuming that you have some kind of budget, and if you have expensive furnishings you are going to choose an appropriate rug to go with them.
3) Fiber/Material/Yarn: There is a diversity of fibers available. You will need to decide whether you want to go with a natural or synthetic fiber. What room is your rug going into? How much can you afford to spend? Is the fiber you choose easy to keep clean? Is it important to you how soft the fiber is (for example, wool is softer than sisal)? Are there any limitations to the fiber (for example, ease of cleaning)? Does the fiber “catch the light” the way you would like?
4) Style/Design: Style and Design are much looser terms than they were some years ago. There seems to be a broader design aesthetic permitted, where old and new, classic and contemporary can coexist together. With regard to area rug jargon, you may run into the terms Traditional, Transitional and Contemporary style. Traditional, as the name implies is referring to the classic, oriental designs. Contemporary designs are the designs that are more modern with brighter colors, and Transitional is somewhere in the middle.
5) Color: I have always found that neutral colors do well when it comes to area rugs, but color is again a subjective and personal thing. Just a word of caution: It is often difficult to match colors perfectly. For example, you might have a green sofa grouping and you choose a green rug only to find when you get home that the two greens don’t match. I have frequently seen this happen. Also, keep in mind that there are other ways you can accentuate color, such as using cushions, throws, wall art, and wall color.
6) Weave: There are a number of different weaves. First, there are rugs that are machine woven and those that are hand woven. Machine woven rugs are fairly straight forward, however, there are several different types of hand-made rugs.
7) Rug Pad/Gripper: A rug pad serves a number of purposes and is an important component of any rug purchase. In some cases pad will help to protect your floor. It will also prevent slipping and provide cushioning and additional comfort. You should be aware that some of the cheap rug pads will disintegrate and may even damage hardwood floors, so choosing a quality rug pad is essential.
8) Care and Maintenance/Cleaning: How easy is the rug to vacuum, or clean? What about spills? Is the rug appropriate for the traffic load?
9) Durability: This is somewhat similar to how you choose which fiber your rug is made from. For example, a family room will generally tax the durability of a rug more than a living room, or bedroom. Questions like; “Do you have a young active family? Or pets?” Maybe a less expensive Heat-Set Polypropylene Rug might be a better choice than an expensive hand knotted wool in that situation.
10) Availability: This simply answers the question: “Is the rug you want, available, or in stock”? For example, do you require a particular size, or shape, that isn’t available in stock sizes, and you have to decide if you want to have a custom rug made. It might not even be possible to have your rug made, or it might be cost prohibitive, or time sensitive. For example Hand Knotted Rugs can take months to produce.