DIY Network

Picking Out An Area Rug

Choosing an area rug can be confusing, since there are so many types available. DIY decorating diva Nancy Golden offers some expert advice.

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woven kalim rug has ornate pattern

Determine the type and amount of use that will occur in the area where the new rug will go. If it’s a high-traffic area, invest a little extra in a higher-quality rug that will be more durable. If it’s a lower-traffic area, go with taste more so than quality.

If the rug will be the visual focal point of the room, select one with an ornate pattern or print. Otherwise, opt for a simpler design.

The choice of rug may also take into account pets and children, and whether the rug will be used in a room that’s likely to have a higher probability of spills and stains occurring.

Finally, consider budget before shopping. Area rugs can range in price from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on a number of factors.

A woven Kalim is a visually striking rug that frequently exhibits an ornate pattern. A rug of this type becomes a visual focal point in a room, and adds a lot of color and texture to the setting where it is used. Kalim rugs are sturdy but very thin. They are relatively inexpensive, and they hold up well because they are constructed of wool. They are a good choice in a well-trafficked area.

A Persian knotted-wool is a very fine rug; this type is generally quite expensive. The cost is derived from the way in which these rugs are constructed. They are handmade of finely knotted fibers. The rug shown in our demonstration has 350 knots per square inch. The fine craftsmanship of these exquisite rugs is evident upon close examination. One of these handmade rugs may represent a year or more of work by a family in the country in which they are crafted. One indicator of authenticity and quality is the fringe at the edge of the rug. On an authentic knotted-wool rug, the fringe is actually woven into the fibers of the rug, not simply sewn on. Persian wool rugs are dense, thick and durable. They are a stunning addition to a room, and are particularly well suited to formal settings.

Synthetic rugs strive to emulate the appearance of authentic Persian rugs, but they are machine-made and much less expensive to purchase. Nevertheless, these cheaper versions may be suitable if you’re on a limited budget. An easy way to identify a synthetic rug is to examine the back. The fibers are not hand-knotted, but are punched through the backing as with carpeting. The fringe is simply sewn on after the rug is made. Synthetic rugs are suitable for many applications, but won’t last nearly as long as the true wool rugs -- which may last for generations.

For an even less expensive option, consider a chenille rug. These are available in a variety of patterns and styles. They are not as durable as the finer rugs, but they may be suitable for less demanding applications.

Determining the size of a rug will depend of the type of setting in which it will be used. For a large, rather plain room, opt for a larger rug, and try to find a size that will allow you to have even borders between your rug and walls. For a dining room, determine the size by adding at least 4’ to the length and width of your dining table. This will ensure that the table and all chairs sit completely on the rug.

Consider using multiple area rugs to delineate areas in a single room -- if there is enough space to do so. Mix and match, but avoid mixing rugs that are drastically different in style and appearance.

Use rug pads to help prevent slippage, and to extend the life of rugs. There are a number of varieties of rug pads available. Ask a rug dealer which type is best suited for the type of rug selected.

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