How to Choose the Right Living Room Rug, Every Time

living room rugs1

Choosing a living room rug can be a daunting task! There’s a lot to consider when choosing the perfect rug for your living room. Beyond picking a rug you like the look of, there are a few practical elements you need to think about as well, particularly size and durability.

This handy guide will answer some of the questions you might have and help you in your quest to find the perfect living room rug!

Like the furniture in the featured image? Shop the Zanui Collection here.

What is the best material for a living room rug?

The living room is often the heart of the home. It’s where we come together with our family, friends and housemates. It’s a place we chill out on our own, binge our favourite shows and take power naps. We pat and play with our pets here, we entertain guests, we have sleepovers and movie nights and play dates here. Nowadays, more than ever, it’s also a place where many of us work or study from home.

In short: the living room is a busy, busy room!

Because it’s so multi-functional, your living room is likely to see a higher-than-normal amount of foot traffic. It’s important to choose a rug that’s going to be able to handle all that wear and tear. There’s also the potential for spills and stains in the living room, so you want a rug that’s easy to clean and somewhat water-resistant.

Here are our top living room rug choices, based on material.

Heat set polypropylene rugs

heat set polypropylene living room rug

The beautiful Silvanna Oriental Rug from Rug Culture is made of durable heat set polypropylene. Buy online now at Zanui.

Regular polypropylene is good, but heat set polypropylene is great. This manmade material is non-shed, stain-resistant and incredibly durable. Heat set polypropylene rugs are soft and really easy to clean, too. They’re perfect if you’ve got kids or pets.

Wool rugs

wool rug for living room

The Agathe Pure Wool Rug from Rug Culture is handcrafted with a flat weave by skilled artisans in India. Buy online now at Zanui.

Wool is naturally water-repellent, flame-resistant, hypoallergenic and antibacterial. It also has thermoregulatory properties, so a wool rug will add warmth to your space but feel cool underfoot on warmer days. Wool is a really resilient fibre so although wool rugs are often constructed by hand, they do tend to last a really long time. One negative of wool rugs is that they tend to shed. However, this is a natural characteristic of wool that keeps it looking newer for longer. The shedding will subside over time.

Cotton rugs

cotton rugs for living room

The Totem Rug by Amigos De Hoy is flatwoven in cotton and features golden Lurex threads throughout. Buy online now at Zanui.

Flatwoven cotton rugs, like traditional kilims or dhurries, will sit easily under your furniture. You also won’t have to worry about the pile becoming compressed by the weight of the furniture or from footfall. Cotton rugs are lightweight and super easy to move around. You can take them outside to shake them free of dust and dirt and leave them out to air. You can even machine wash some cotton rugs.

Jute rugs

jute living room rugs

The Ibis Jute Rug, White from FAB Habitat and the Torpoint Chunky Weave Jute Rug, Natural from Rug Culture sit pretty together in this coastal living space.

These natural fibre rugs are surprisingly durable. Jute rugs feel comfortable underfoot; it’s like a little massage for your feet. Their low pile construction makes them great for sitting under furniture, like coffee tables and armchairs. They’re perfect for creating the popular coastal or boho coastal interior style in your home. One downside is that they can be a little tricky to clean.


What size should my living room rug be?

The size you choose will depend on the size of your living room and the kind of atmosphere you want to create. If you want your living room to feel grand and spacious, go for a larger rug. If you’re hoping to create a cosier setting, choose a smaller rug that ties your lounge setting together.

Top tips:

  1. As a general rule of thumb, bigger is always better. Your rug should always be wider lengthways than your sofa. Anything too small will make the space feel cluttered and cramped.
  2. Use your living room’s orientation to determine which way to place your rug. If your living room is longer than it is wide, have the longer edge of your rug facing the longer side of the room.
  3. Measure out the size you think you want your rug to be before purchasing. You can use newspaper or put tape markers on the floor. This will allow you to visualise how the rug will fill the space and help you pick the best size.

There are a few sizing options you might wish to go for when choosing your living room rug.

Option 1: An oversized area rug that gives the room a grand, open feeling

300x400cm living room rug

We’re talking rugs sized 300x400cm, 330x240cm or similar. Rugs of this size are best for open-plan living spaces. They have the effect of making a room feel bigger than it is, so they can also work well in smaller living areas.

No exaggeration – these rugs are HUGE. Your sofa, armchairs, coffee table, and any accessories like floor lamps or side tables should be able to sit fully upon them with room on all sides. This is the rug you want if you’ve got a four-seater sofa or a large multi-seater sectional sofa.

Aim to leave at a gap of at least 20cm between the edges of the rug and the living room walls. This will help to create balance and stop the rug from swallowing up the entire room as if it were carpet.


Option 2: A mid-sized area rug that creates a sense of togetherness

290x200cm living room rug

For this option, you’ll want a rug that’s about 200x290cm or similar. These rugs are still big, but not huge. In most cases, they won’t occupy the whole of your living room floor like a 300x400cm rug would.

A rug like this should be large enough that it extends at least midway beneath your sofa and armchairs. This will define the zone, so it’s a perfect choice if you’ve got a shared living and dining space.

Most three-seater sofas are about 210cm wide, so a rug of this size should leave a nice, even border on either side of your sofa. However, it’s probably not going to be big enough for a four-seater.


Option 3: A small rug that creates an intimate lounge setting

230x160 living room rug

For this, you’ll want a rug that’s about 160x230cm or even 120x170cm. Rugs like this will bring your lounge setting together nicely, creating a cosy and inviting atmosphere.

The rug should still be slightly wider than your sofa. A 160x230cm rug will still work with a three-seater sofa in most cases. Two-seater sofas are around 150 to 160cm wide, so a 120x170cm rug will just fit. If your rug is much smaller than this, it can make the space feel unbalanced and cramped, as mentioned earlier.


What colour rug should I pick for my living room?

Colour can have a significant effect on the overall feeling of a room. Blue and green create calm. Yellow creates happiness. White creates a fear of dirt (kidding).

Lighter coloured rugs, like cream and white and beige, help to make a room feel bright and airy. They also create a sense of spaciousness, so are perfect for a small living room. However, a white or light-coloured rug may not be the best choice for a high-traffic area like the living room. You might want to consider a shoes-off-on-the-rug rule at home!

white living room rug

The Amalia Chunky Weave Wool Rug, White from Rug Culture helps make this living space feel light and bright. Buy online now at Zanui.

If you’ve got a really light and bright room white walls, pale floors and lots of natural sunlight, you could go for a darker-toned rug. This will create brilliant contrast and make a statement. A darker rug also won’t show dirt or stains as much. Be wary of choosing a dark rug if you’ve already got dark floors, walls or furniture. This can create a dark and dull mood in the room, which might not be desirable.

colourful living room rugs

The colourful Azmeira Tribal Rug from Rug Culture adds warmth to this lounge space. Buy online now at Zanui.

If you’ve got cold tiles or pale floorboards and you want to add a little warmth, choose a rug that features earthy shades like terracotta, brown, dusty pink and even mustard. This colour palette is particularly on-trend at the moment.

You can use the colours of the rug to pick out other accents for the living room, too, such as cushions. Similarly, you can use the colours of an artwork to help you pick the colour of your living room rug.

Try not to match the colour of your rug to that of your sofa, though. You can stay in the same colour family, but too much sameness can be boring.


How do I find a rug to match my living room?

They often say you should start from the ground up. If you’re struggling to find the right living room rug, or to style your living room, why not pick the rug first and then build on top? Finding different pieces of furniture that each match the rug will be easier than finding the rug to match all of the furniture!


Stay tuned for more rug guides, coming soon!

Elizabeth is a digital content writer and copy editor from Sydney, Australia, with a degree in Media & Communications from the University of New South Wales. When she isn't writing for Zanui, she's usually attempting further study, burying her head in a novel (or writing her own), pestering her cat, or desperately trying to keep her small potted succulent alive.