I hate talking about money and putting a price tag on something. But I’m going there today with the goal of saving someone money in the long run. Next to hanging pictures on the wall, choosing a rug might be one of the biggest home design conundrums. There are so many variables to consider—from size to pattern to foot traffic and price tag. Before moving in, we were advised to invest in a quality rug for our living room. With everything else we needed to buy for the house at the time, investing properly in a living room rug was impossible. 3 rugs later. They were right.
A rug is worth a thousand+ dollars in a highly trafficked room (UPDATE: Unless you have a dog or cat. See comments.), like the living room, but isn’t a necessity in every room (more on that below). When I first posted our finished living room, I purposefully neglected to mention our rug as I wasn’t happy with its performance, leaving it on the list of things to-be-replaced. The living room was the space we were spending the most time together as a family. With a three-year-old and a fire to snuggle up next to, we found ourselves on the floor quite a bit. A comfortable rug that vacuumed easily was a necessity. We were saving up to buy the Masinissa Rug after noticing it looked good in every room Studio McGee styled. As luck would have it, we ended up partnering with their shop, McGee & Co., and were able to replace the rug sooner than we had planned.
In love is an understatement. The new rug is beautiful AND functional. It’s plush and cozy and vacuums well, qualities our former rug didn’t have. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but did you watch the movie Clueless growing up? It came with its own set jargon, with adjectives like Monet, which means pretty at a distance but sloppy up close. (For a walk down memory lane, read this Clueless Catchphrase post.) I’d never use that language to describe a human, but our old rug was a Monet. It looked great at a distance and even in a photo, but it didn’t function well as an area rug. Up close, it could keep no secrets. The new rug, however, is a total Betty.
In the end, I hope this post saves you money in the long run and makes choosing a rug a bit less painful. And if for a second you think I’ve lost my thrifty marbles, well, how do you like my fake flowers from Ikea (insert emoji with glasses and teeth sticking out)?
Tips for buying an area rug
Foot traffic. Is the area rug going in a high- or low-traffic room? If the answer is low, go with a lower priced rug. Look into Kilim rugs that tend to be lower in price. They aren’t cushy, but typically offer a lot of visual interest. A thick rug pad, like this one, is a smart addition to a Kilim rug. We have a couple of these rugs throughout the house. If the foot-traffic answer is high, I’d recommend investing in a quality rug that will last you years, like a wool or an oriental rug. But what if I can’t afford it? In that case, go with a super inexpensive area rug (or a piece of cut carpet) and save up for a long-lasting rug ($1k+ range). We made the mistake of buying a couple semi-nice area rugs ($400 range). We obviously didn’t learn our lesson the first time, even though my dad always advised us to save up to invest in the quality item. “By the time you purchase a couple low quality replacements,” he’d say, “you’ll spend as much or more as you would have on the quality item.”
Will it vacuum? My mom laughs hysterically over the youtube show Good Mythical Morning where they play games like Will it Cupcake?. While the show is comedic, it’s a good thing to ask yourself before buying an area rug in a high-traffic space—will it vacuum? Our previous area rug (under $1k), explicitly mentioned on the label not to vacuum. I bought it anyways. Like so many things, you get what you pay for. Vacuuming is extra. For this same reason, I’d recommend skipping shag rugs altogether.
Shop from a curated retailer. I’ve always preferred to shop for clothes at smaller, curated stores. I have decision paralysis in the presence of too many options. I feel the same way about shopping for rugs. Nothing gives me more anxiety than paging through 100+ pages of rugs. If you too have this problem, shop from smaller, curated retailers like McGee and Co. Shea, the owner who also runs Studio McGee, a killer good design firm and blog, sells the same rugs they use to style the homes they design. For that reason alone, I trust their quality. They also show their rugs in real rooms, which is so helpful. Shea uses the Massina Rug, the one we have, quite a bit so I knew we could trust it. It looks good in every single room.
To neutral or not? I have a tendency to change things up from time to time. For that reason, I opted to keep our living room fairly neutral. With a neutral rug and furniture, pillows and accessories can change as my tastes change without a major investment. If going neutral, I’d recommend choosing a rug with a slight pattern to add visual interest. A neutral rug without pattern can often look like a square of carpet. If you’re a once and done designer, you can afford a playful rug. I like to add more playful rugs in smaller rooms, like our office.
Highs and lows. When designing any space, use a mix of high- and low-priced items to help with budget. In general, the expensive items often elevate the look of inexpensive items. With that said, you can trust that your rug will elevate the overall look of the room.
Painters tape. One of my biggest reoccurring mistakes in home design is misjudging scale—whether it’s choosing a rug or a picture frame. I tend to err on the side of small, which can look like a major error, especially in minimal design. Use painters tape to tape out the rug size in your room. If you’re thrifty like me, you’ll try to skimp and go for the smaller rug and price tag. Don’t do it. A living room feels coziest when the rug tucks under a couch or two.
❤️ happy rug buying
Sources: Area Rug | Vintage Clock | Grey (Totem Storm) Couch | Camel Leather Couch (purchased from Craigslist) | Coffee Table (no longer available) | Dark Grey Striped Pillow | Light Grey Buffalo Pillow (colorway sold out) | White Linen Pillow | Rocking Horse | Lamp | Round Mirror | Ladder (vintage) | Fireplace | Buffalo Check Throw | Felt Basket (no longer available) | Brass Semi-flush mount with striped shade
Did this rug shed a lot when you first got it? If so, did it stop quickly? I purchased a middle of the road rug that I originally liked, but it has not stopped shedding over a year later. (Fills a vacuum canister and covers your pants if you sit on it) .
Also, what is the texture of this rug – loops or straight? That’s the hardest part of buying online, especially for such an expensive purchase that is hard to return,
Haiiiiiiii! My husband and I never seem to agree on rugs but this one is FINALLY the perfect compromise!!! Thank you for recommending it! May I ask what paint you used for your living room? We are looking for the perfect barely off-white and this looks like it may fit the bill???
It’s a really great rug! We still love it!. For paint, we used Benjamin Moore Decorators White in flat on our walls. I always recommend trying out colors (even whites) in your space. In our house, this white reads a touch warm.
If you have an older cat. I don’t care how much I brush him or feed him hairball medicine. It’s gonna happen & usually in the middle of the rug right after he ate soft food. My best friend is my Bissell spotbot carpet cleaner lol. So make sure the rug can stand up to a good scrub.
Also – don’t let it dry on the floor unless you want a nasty surprise when you move the rug. Congrat’s you now get to refinish your floors.
Oh my gosh, I have gone thru the exact same problems with my shag rug (Souk from West Elm, super cute….at first). Never again will I buy a rug that I cannot vacuum!! Anyway, I too have been eyeing the Masinissa rug as a replacement but was afraid it might look dirty quickly with a lot of dog and human foot traffic. (No peeing issues at this point.) How is yours holding up?
Great post btw, and cute house! Thanks.
It’s held up so well! My little one has “accidentally” colored on it in a couple spots and it’s come perfectly clean. I’m a horrible housekeeper and the grey color and the pattern hide our mess in between vacuums!
I think you have given sage advise, especially for those with out pets. I have a rig that is over 20 years old. It has been through two big weimerainers from pups till they got old and sick on it and children that are now grown. I bought a hand Knotted wool oriental rug. We retired and moved a few years ago and are still using it. I would like to change it now for a different size, but it still looks as good as it ever did. Really good quality last forever!! ten years ago I realized it had a bad odor and took it outside and hosed it down. I hung it over the railing on the porch and let it dry. No smell now. I will say that it has a dark background which may be hiding some stains. It still looks and feels great. I bought two really nice indoor/outdoor rugs and they are not holding up anywhere near as well. I am not suggesting you take your rug outside and hose it down, but I do suggest buying quality.
Love the rug but could never spend that much on such a high traffic area. We scored an amazing deal at PB but then we adopted an adult dog that peeped on it! I finally pulled it up and have to have a professional clean it. At least this is wool. We went with Viscose which is impossible to clean.
Where is your white pillow from on the couch in front of the plaid blanket? I don’t see it linked. If you get a dog – put away this rug until they are for sure fully potty trained!
Oh no! I’m taking notes. I didn’t even think about pets when I wrote this post since we don’t have one. A couple people wrote the same thing! Gosh, it seems like there has to be a more cleaning-friendly rug out there since this is such a common problem!
Whoops, you asked about the pillow! It’s from Target a year or two ago.
I have bought and thrown away so many rugs because of dog urine. It’s truly depressing. I finally bought an indoor/outdoor rug. it lasted a while. I would take outside to hose off.
I inherited a very nice smaller wool rug and put it on top the outdoor rug. Then a friend’s kid spilled orange soda on it. I tried and failed to get it all out but still enjoy it.
I am extra wary about light colored rugs.
Dash and Albert indoor/outdoor rugs are soft and come in great colors/patterns. Clean up is a breeze, water and soap. Great for dogs and accidents.
Good mythical moms FTW!!!
Love the Clueless lingo.. girl after my own heart!
I ended up splurging on a nice Dash & Albert rug for our living room. Honestly it pains me to see how much our cat has pulled up the loops and we’ve only had it a few months:(. Also not doing so well after a large coffee spill. Eventually I’ll need to just buy another one, in the end I should have waited.
Same as Emily. Old dog followed by young puppy.
Not to mention a husband and two kids. I love that rug, but I would cry when it was soiled!
This post is everything! We have a weird hallway shaped living room and I couldn’t even start to design the room without a rug to really define the space. A really large rug. I hate cheap rugs, but don’t currently have the budget for what I really want. In addition to the tips you already have, I was given the advice to shop estate sales. I managed to find a hand tufted wool 9×12 rug that is perfectly appropriate for $100. It’s not what I want forever, but it is a really nice placeholder that vacuums well and didn’t cost a fortune.
We have a dog that has accidents from time to time… always on the rug. Always. Our last very nice rug lasted for maybe 1 year before it was damaged by the accidents beyond repair/cleaning. (Urine destroys rugs – ugh) Instead of spending money on a replacement, we went super cheap and bought something from an online retailer for under $200. Its huge and gives the kids a nice soft surface to play on. It also cleans better than wool because it is synthetic so if there is an accident, the damage is not as permanent. Someday we’ll invest in a nice rug again – for now, this will have to do!
I’m nervous about getting a dog for that reason! Thanks for adding this. Do you have the link by chance to your rug in case someone else is in the same spot?
We have this problem too! 2 aging dogs + a toddler = lots of rug destroying…substances. I learned the hard way that even professional rug cleaning won’t get the smell of vomit out of a rug. Hah! So we keep buying cheaper rugs and replacing them when necessary. One day we’ll upgrade. 🙂 Love this post!
I completely agree. Every rug I have ever owned has been demolished by my dog’s occasional accidents. I will never spend a significant amount of money on a rug while a dog is in the picture.
Sounds like I need to add a clause to this post! We’ve been toying around with the idea of getting a dog, and now I’m officially petrified.
Melissa if you get a dog DO NOT get a puppy, then you can hopefully skip that whole house training phase where accidents abound. We are talking about ripping out the carpet in our living room and putting in hardwood (and a rug) but likely won’t do it til our dog has passed and the baby is older and potty trained.
No. Get a dog. Or two. Rescue!!
They are worth more than a rug, I feel like I have never felt more complete than with my dogs around. Rugs can either be cleaned or shuffled through. Please!