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Best Area Rugs for Hardwood Floors

It can really tie the room together when it's done right. Check out how to pick the right area rug with these inspired choices.

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carpet on hard wood floorwinnond/Getty Images

Choosing an Area Rug

Finding the right rug to warm up your hardwood floors can be a fun but sometimes exasperating challenge. Determining the right size, the right material, and the right style and color can complicate the search. Here are some tips to get you started, plus a few of our favorites for inspiration.

  • Size: Make sure at least the front legs of all furniture in the room fit around/onto the rug, and leave a 10- to 20-inch margin around the room.
  • Style: Draw inspiration from your space. “Decide whether your space craves something traditional or contemporary, abstract or boho, and THEN see what colors are available,” says Yoselin Castro, senior interior designer at Mackenzie Collier Interiors. “This will help you keep the design direction really clear.”
  • Material: Natural fibers lie wool or silk still rule for durability and softness — good ones last a lifetime. But synthetic fibers such as polypropylene give natural fibers a run for their money, with their washability and variety of prints and colors. “Other great materials include jute and seagrass, as they are strong fibers that are renewable,” Castro says. “Something to consider is the feel of this material as it will be coarser due to its resilient properties.”
  • Price: They run the gamut depending on size, whether the rug was handmade or machine made, and the material. “It’s almost a given that the larger the rug, the higher the price,” says Castro.
  • Pads: Pads and their materials are key to protecting your hardwood floor from costly, and sometimes permanent, damage. The best options are natural rubber and felt. Avoid plastic, latex and PVC. Some will still say they’re safe for hardwood, but they aren’t. The off-gassing from these materials creates a chemical reaction with your floor, leaving an etched, discolored pattern that oftentimes cannot be removed, even with refinishing. Pay attention to the materials on the backing of your rug, too. You can protect your floor from problematic backings with natural rubber or felt. Other products don’t stay in place, stick to the floor indefinitely, or ruin the finish or the composition of the hardwood. Pads with natural rubber or felt allow the rugs and hardwood to breathe — they are natural materials, after all. Pads also protect your own bodily safety — no slipping on sliding rugs or tripping over flipped edges. “Rug pads are great as they provide traction between hardwood (or tiled) floors and help keep the rug in place, especially when placed in a high trafficked area,” Castro says. “Keep in mind when you purchase a rug pad, it may not be the exact same size as the rug so feel free to cut any of the rug pad excess.”
  • Cleaning: Different rug fibers have different cleaning requirements. Wool rugs will likely shed, so regular vacuuming is recommended. Always try removing spills immediately using a sponge or soft-bristle brush, and refer to the rug’s materials cleaning instructions. If a stain or technique has eluded your gentle detergent spot cleaning, find a trusted rug cleaner.
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Hardwoof Floor Rug Via

Best Modular Area Rug

For environmental consciousness, customization possibilities and washability/replaceability, nothing beats FLOR. These carpet tiles come in various piles and aesthetic styles. You can cut and place in pre-determined patterns, or get artistic and make it your design.

Each tile is removable and washable. In the case you can’t remove a stain, you can purchase a tile to replace it, rather than an entire rug. This is a great option if you have an oddly sized space, too.

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Damali Rug from ruggable Via

Best Pet-Friendly Area Rug

Ruggable has your hardwood floors covered. Their two-piece sets come with a nonslip pad and a washable rug cover — brilliant.

“Ruggable’s products are machine washable, making it super easy to care for a rug, especially when you have a furry pet at home,” says Castro. “Most of their rugs come in a variety of colorways and in most standard rug sizes, too!” Choose a design that fits your interior, of course, but Castro recommends the Damali.

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Area Rug from AelfieVia

Best Splurge Rug

If you’re ready to splurge on a rug that doubles as a spectacular art piece, the Niwa from Aelfie could be the one for you. As the description notes, “The forms blend rectilinear and organic forms and break the standard shape and size constraints of a typical rug.”

The pile is hand-knotted, which gives the rug longevity, and hand-carved. The product description says it’s “inspired by the raked lines in a Japanese rock garden.” The one-inch-tall pile will feel soft underfoot. It comes in stone, sand and ochre — handmade to order.

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AreaArea Rug from Neimanmarcus Rug Via NeimanmarcusVia

Best Handknotted Rug

This beautiful Nahla rug from Safavieh’s Lauren by Ralph Lauren Collection is hand-knotted and an investment for a lifetime. Ali Hafezi from Babash Rug Services, an American Society of Interior Designers Industry partner, says these types of rugs should only be cleaned by a professional. But because it’s handloomed, it will last a long time with proper care.

From a stylistic perspective, Hafezi says, “the weaving style and horizontal accents throughout work to blend the rug into the hardwood, while the vivid colors work to set contrast against darker hardwood.”

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Morrocan Rug Via

Best Moroccan Rug

No two are alike, but all Moroccan rugs share one thing: lifelong style, exemplified by this beautiful option. Many are neutral in tone, although some come dotted with brighter colors and bolder patterns.

Hand-knotted and made with 100 percent wool, this rug will last a lifetime with proper care (professional cleaning only). It fits in a wide variety of homes, from traditional to mid-century to modern.

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Shag Rug Via

Best Shag Rug

Hafezi says this shag rug is perfect because it’s a classic, versatile design, relatively inexpensive and works on dark and light-toned hardwoods. Hafezi predicts with proper care and maintenance, it will also last at least a decade.

“You get a wide variety of colors to choose from, so you can easily find the perfect complement for your floor’s shade,” Hafezi says. “As a bonus, the rug remains versatile across different settings, so you can move around into just about any situation if you decide on something else in the future.”

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Basket Weave Area jute Rug Via

Best Jute Rug

“This jute rug from World Market provides function and durability, making it a great option for someone looking to have a good-looking rug without breaking the bank,” says Castro.

Made from a renewable fiber, it can feel like a fresh choice compared to more traditional rugs. A proper rug pad is absolutely essential for a jute rug because its rough fibers can scratch hardwood surfaces, etching away the finish and driving dirt and stains into the wood. If you’re looking for rugs for every room in your house, these are the best kitchen rugs to spruce up your space.

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Rainbow Rug Via

Best Kids Rug

This rug stands up to high traffic, can be spot-cleaned and is bright and cheery — the Amelia Rainbow shag rug takes home top marks for kids! Made from durable polypropylene, it’s Oeko-Tex 100 Certified, meaning it meets product and air safety standards. Plus, one-inch pile makes for a soft, cushy place to play on the floor.

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Bronden Rug Via

Best Budget Rug

The 8 foot x 12 foot Stockholm is a perennial IKEA favorite. It’s 100 percent wool, handmade and features a delightful offset stripe in classic black and white or cream and taupey gray. And it’s only $299!

“If you’re on a budget, but still want to make a cute and modern statement — and most importantly add texture into your home — I recommend looking into IKEA rugs,” says Castro.

For her money, Castro recommends the Brönden, a 100 percent wool, low-pile rug that offers a sophisticated neutral backdrop with a variety of weaves and textures.

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Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.