The Ultimate Guide to Modern Rugs | Articulate

The Ultimate Guide to Modern Rugs

From the bright orange shag of the ‘70s to today’s handwoven beauties, we can all agree that rugs have come a long way when it comes to design and functionality. Whether you’re looking for a statement-making decorative piece for your formal living room or a soft (and durable) place to play in your baby’s nursery, there’s a rug for you. 

Size, color, materials, durability — there’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing the perfect rug for your space. Luckily for you, we’ve created this all-in-one guide to help ensure you start rug shopping on the right *ehem* foot

The blue Zakra Rug is shown with light pink Oscuro dining chairs.
Looking for your “something blue”? The Zakra Rug’s Oasis Blue hue is the perfect match for the Aster Pink of the Oscuro Dining Chairs.

Materials 

Pets, kids, and visits from your spaghetti-loving Uncle Ralph are all things you’ll want to think about when choosing a new rug. However, trying to decipher the different rug materials available can be a bit of a puzzle. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options on the market. 

Phil Cohen's son plays with a wooden train track on the wool Hira Rug by Article.
Thick, handwoven knots make blogger Phil Cohen’s Hira Rug the perfect spot for a budding conductor.

Wool 

Like your favorite grandma-made sweater, a wool rug brings instant warmth and coziness to a space. Classified as a luxury material, wool is naturally resilient and stain-resistant due to lanolin, the waxy substance found on sheep’s wool. This prevents stains and dirt from getting too deep into your rug — something that helps stop permanent staining. 

The strength of natural wool is also credited with keeping a rug like the hand-knotted Nabilu’s shape, as daily use and compression are less likely to cause damage and lasting indentations than what’s seen with other materials. We always recommend using a rug pad under your carpets, but a wool rug will have this built-in defense against dents. If only your mom’s car had that back when you were in high school. 

As we do with most natural and premium materials, we recommend only dry spot-cleaning as necessary. If things got messier than you anticipated, a call to your local professional rug cleaner is your best bet.  

The Hira Rug is shown with a small dog
Cozy, cushy, and stands up to four-legged friends. Danielle of Danielle Sells NYC makes sure all family members are comfortable on the Hira Rug.

Viscose

Made of fibers formed from wood pulp, viscose’s ultra-soft texture means it benefits from a little extra TLC. Due to its premium nature, self-cleaning methods are discouraged. In short: While your viscose rug will be undeniably beautiful, it’s probably not the best choice for a kids playroom or that busy entryway with the doggy door. 

This doesn’t mean you have to step around your viscose rug or corden it off with caution tape, but it’s definitely better suited for a grown-up space like a master bedroom, formal living room, or guest room.

Recycled PET

Reduce, reuse, recycle… rugs. Recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is an eco-friendly choice for all rug connoisseurs and aspiring tree-huggers alike. Made from a mix of recycled materials such as plastic bottles, PET is stain- and weather-resistant. 

This makes a rug like the Natica a great choice for outdoor areas, although we always recommend bringing your pieces in when not in use for long periods of time. We probably wouldn’t like being left out in the cold either. 

An outdoor sofa set is shown with a rug, cactus, and ottoman.
Indoors and out, the Redondo Rug’s recycled PET construction stands up to everyday living.

Jute

The boho darling of the group, jute rugs bring beauty and function together. Pet-friendly and relatively easy to clean, jute is naturally soft and durable. However, jute isn’t absorbent so wouldn’t do well as a bath mat, entryway rug, or in any other high-humidity area. 

Woven from 100% natural jute, our Oma Rug is handmade in India to bring true craftsmanship to your space. Simple vacuuming and spot cleaning is all you need to keep a jute rug looking its boho best. 

Color, Pattern, and Style

While your sofa, bed, or dining set might get all the attention, a rug has the power to transform the entire feeling of a room. Rugs take up a lot of visual space, so it’s important to know exactly the kind of message you want your piece to convey. 

For example, if you’re wanting something natural and organic to ground your space but not distract from other elements in the room, the Upsa Rug is a solid choice. It features a monochromatic, neutral tone for a calming effect, with a textured geometric pattern to add design interest. 

Lizzy Powers dog naps on the bed while the jute Upsa Rug defines the space.
Lizzy Powers‘ dog Finn is a big fan of the relaxing vibes provided by the boho-style, jute Oma Rug.

If you’re leaning towards something a bit bolder, the Zakra Rug could be the perfect pick. The intricate pattern makes a definite style statement, while the saturated jewel-toned hues add depth and richness to your space. 

Size 

When it comes to selecting a rug, size definitely matters. The biggest offender when choosing a rug size? Choosing something that’s way too small for your space. 

You always want to lean more towards choosing a rug that could be too big, rather than too small. A rug is meant to anchor and define a space, so something that’s not large enough will create the illusion of a cramped, smaller room. 

Blogger Flax and Twine's living room features a large patterned rug and a glass garage door window.
Anne Weil of Flax and Twine uses the patterned Mali Rug to define her open-concept space.

To choose the perfect rug size, first think about the furniture that will be arranged around the edges of the rug such as a sofa or media unit. You’ll want to make sure that the edges of your rug fit under the front feet of this furniture. For example, here you’d want the front two legs of your sofa as well as your media unit to be resting on the rug. You also want to ensure that there’s space on the ends. If you have a sofa like the Sven that’s just over 7 feet, you’ll want a rug that’s at least 8 feet long to allow for half a foot of extra coverage on either end. 

If you have an open-concept layout, use your choice of different-sized rugs to define each use of space. For example, with one large room that includes a TV-watching zone on one side, your dining area in the middle, and a designated reading nook over at the other end, you can clearly set the boundaries of these different spots using strategically placed rugs. 

A bedroom is shown with a bright orange bench, neutral rug, and blue bedding.
Ensure your key furniture pieces, like the Tessu Bed and Ansa Bench here, don’t just fit on your rug — but have room to spare.

If you’re still struggling with choosing a rug size, it might be time to bust out the tried-and-true painter’s tape method. Set up your furniture in your ideal layout, and then tape off a rug size that feels best and makes the most sense in the space. Once you’ve got that taped off, get out your measuring tape and then find a rug that’s as close to that size as possible. 

For something that we literally walk all over, the right rug can really make a difference when it comes to the comfort and style of your home. With your lifestyle, design preferences, and space in mind, the tips and guidance above have got you covered. (That’s a rug joke, by the way.) 

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