For whatever reason, rug shopping can bring up something from deep within and drag you along on an emotional roller coaster ride like no other decor decision can. Hunting for the right rug can make you do, say, or spend like a completely deranged version of yourself. (Oh yes, I’m guilty of this.) I’ve been neck deep in countless searches for “the perfect rug” for either mine or a client’s home. Over the years, I’ve come to realize the common struggles we all deal with, and today I’ve got some advice to help get you through it.
So you need a rug. Simple enough to find, right?
If it’s your first serious rug hunt, in the beginning you are blissfully naive and optimistic. And then things start to go something like this…
You look at all the local stores close to you with no luck and walk away with one thought, “Why are there so many ugly burgundy and brown rugs? Who would BUY these?!?”
Then you start shopping online.
You hit up every website you can think of. You scroll and click and scroll and click for hours. The glow of your iPad follows you into the wee hours of the morning, and your spouse can’t believe that you’re still up searching online for a stinking rug. (To which you roll your eyes and reply, “You know nothing.” For a fleeting moment you wonder how you could have ever chosen a spouse who does not understand the gravity of this decision and won’t gladly jump into this frantic hunt with you.)
A hundred rugs later, and you reach the peak of frustration. You shut the computer and decide to look again later. You go back to the same online shops hoping that your perfect rug has magically arrived. But it hasn’t.
Then one day when you’re not particularly trying to find a rug, you see it. There it is-the creme de la creme of all rugs!! The PERFECT rug!
You click on it. You enlarge it.
You picture it in your living room and get a sense that all will be right with the world if that rug enters your house.
And then you see the $5,000 price tag and want to cry.
It happens, friend. To all of us.
THE EMOTIONAL STAGES OF RUG SHOPPING
Before I get to the advice portion of this post, I just want to take a moment to clear the air about what I’m calling “The Emotional Stages of Rug Shopping.” If you have lived anything close to the above scenario, then you could use some solidarity. Hopefully once you realize you’re not alone, you’ll be able to get through the next bout of rug shopping with a little self-awareness and humor.
After all, it’s one thing to act crazy over a rug. It’s another thing all together to recognize that you’re acting crazy and have a little laugh at yourself.
5 REASONS YOU’RE NOT FINDING THE PERFECT RUG
In all seriousness though, after witnessing my own cycle of emotions and the struggles of so many of my clients I have come to realize that the elusive “perfect rug” issue is sometimes more complicated than we realize. Here’s some straight-talk about why you’re still on a marathon rug hunt…
1. You’re focusing on the rug instead the room.
When we look at a piece in isolation, it becomes impossible to predict how it will actually play out in a space. I had one who client shopped for months to find the “perfect rug”. When she finally got the very pricey rug home, she hated it. (And then she called me.) The reason for this is she had tunnel vision on the rug and was blinded to the effect it would have on the overall design of the room. She was totally unaware of how the rug would play out with the other pieces in her living room when she chose it.
When you take a step back and realize that the rug is just one player in the game, then there’s less pressure to find this superstar rug. Instead of trying to snag the perfect rug that gives you butterflies, you need to be thinking about the main thing you hope to accomplish by bringing this rug into the room. (Stay tuned for point #3.)
No matter how amazing a rug is, it can’t be the “cure-all” for the entire room. It can’t erase that coffee table that’s pretty dated or the sofa you wish you could replace. (However new throw pillows can do a world of difference for the sofa.) That may be why you love something in the store or online, but it doesn’t have the impact you hoped for once it’s in the space. Don’t get me wrong, we often have to live with items we don’t love for years, but that doesn’t mean the whole room is spoiled. We just need to be mindful of them when making a rug choice.
2. You want a Lexus for a Prius price.
One reason you could be frustrated is that you’re hoping to find the “unicorn” rug on a shoestring budget. Let’s face it girls…most of the rugs of our dreams just cost. If you want the look of a hand knotted vintage Persian rug but are searching through the lens of Target prices, you’ll forever feel like the perfect rug isn’t out there. When really, it is. But you’re gonna’ have to fork over the dough to get it.
Sure, if you stalk Craigslist every hour on the hour, you might get lucky one day and find that vintage beauty you’re after. Realistically though, 99% of the time this just doesn’t happen. Either change your expectations, or raise your budget.
Sometimes you find a steal like this one: Isabella Traditional area rug by Momeni.
3. You’re not sure what kind of rug you need.
There are literally millions of choices when it comes to rugs, and it can be overwhelming when you don’t have a clue what to look for. Sometimes narrowing down what to look for is half the battle. Obviously a rug in any space will add softness and better define an area. But in the overall design scheme of a room, it should also serve a specific aesthetic purpose. If you don’t know what kind of rug to look for, ask yourself this question…
What is the primary aesthetic attribute I need this rug to bring to my room?
Color? Pattern? Texture?
Pick one of the attributes above and work from there. (If you said “all of the above”, I can tell you that the search will be much harder.) By narrowing it down to the primary aesthetic attribute the rug will bring, you have a clearer focus of how it will enhance the entire space. You have a starting point.
Needing Color? If you decide that color is the most important factor, then you can more easily weed out rugs you might like but that don’t fulfill that specific purpose. If you find a rug with great color but the pattern isn’t exactly what you want, it’s ok because you’re in it for the color. It should still be a contender because of the purpose it will serve the room.
Needing Pattern? If you have a lot of solids or small-scale patterns in the room, then you will probably want a rug with a bolder pattern to bring visual interest to the space. The color in this situation is secondary. Consider a few color choices that have the pattern you are drawn to and then use the process of elimination based on what the room needs.
Needing texture? Maybe you really want to add cozy layers to a cold room. Perhaps you spend a lot of time on the floor with kiddos and a soft spot underfoot is your main concern. A great shag rug with lots of texture might be the perfect fit for the space. In that case you will most definitely limit your options on color and pattern. That’s ok though, because you can bring those aesthetic elements into the room with other pieces.
BTW, If you’re wondering what rug size to buy, this post by Emily Henderson covers it all. No need trying to say what the queen of styling already said best!
4. You don’t know where to look.
This one is an easy fix! Head over to my Online Shopping Guide where I’ve got my fav places to look for rugs online categorized by price.
*SHOP MINDFULLY* If you start to feel overwhelmed after 30 minutes or so, it’s time to unplug. Watch a show, read a book, and come back to it later.
5. You’re scared to commit.
I know, rugs are pricey. It feels like such a big commitment. One of my clients said that she felt the same pressure in choosing a rug as she did when shopping for her wedding dress! Like she had to find “the one”. Honestly, there are probably several good rug options for your situation. Don’t be afraid that by making a decision you’ll miss out on “the one”. Sometimes the search, the struggle and the price tag add a weightiness that makes us feel like it’s the BIGGEST DECISION EVER.
It’s not a mate. It’s not a house…It’s a rug.
Just repeat that mantra to yourself as you’re adding the good-enough rug to your online shopping cart.
Sometimes choosing a rug can feel like choosing a spouse. The ugly truth of the matter is that 50% of marriages end in divorce. And if I knew the stats of returned rugs, I’d quote that to you too. Here’s the deal…the rug and you and the room may get along fabulously, and you’ll want roll around on it and have little rug babies. OR it may not work once you have it in the space. Sometimes things look different in our homes than we imagined. (This happens a lot.) It’s ok. If you know immediately you don’t like rug once it’s in the space, that’s a good indicator it’s not a good fit. Grab your receipt, fork over the return shipping, and try again.
If you get the rug in the room and you don’t feel the “warm fuzzy feelings” and aren’t sure if you like it, that’s ok. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a relationship. Wait it out a couple weeks. See how you respond to it over some time. You might find it is a great match for you because of the aesthetic attribute it brings to the room. Or the way it feels on your feet. Or how much your family loves it.
Sometimes a “good-enough” rug IS the perfect rug.
After all the #toughdecorlove, I’ll leave you with this…I know what it’s like to need that new rug and feel like you’ve been on the hunt for ages. Maybe your match is just around the corner. Maybe you need to start thinking about the overall plan for the room instead of focusing on the “cure-all” rug. Or perhaps you simply need to align your budget to your expectations.
For whatever the reason, I encourage you not to let the rug decision paralyze you. Push past the doubt, and make an intentional purchase. You deserve to have a space you love. That can most definitely happen with a “good enough” rug, but it can never happen if you don’t choose one.
Happy hunting, friends.
PS: If you’re wondering about that fabulous little rug in the pics above, it belongs to my talented friend Laura (who scored it on Kansas City Craigslist for a song-I know the “unicorn rug” just mocking us all. Also a “womb chair” similar to the one shown can be found here.)
PPS: Wish your bookshelves looked like this? I have a class to teach you how! You can check it out HERE.
I love this! I thought I was the only one who spent hours and hours looking at rugs online. I spent months looking, finally bought one online, and it is just ok. Still trying to figure out what the room needs.
No, you are totally in good company on the time searching for rugs online! My advice is to look at the aesthetic attributes I mentioned and see if you need more color, pattern, texture or even contrast in the room. Best of luck!! (Feel free to check out my decor coaching services too if you get stuck;)
OMG Heather, I cannot tell you HOW MUCH this article resonates with me! I have gone through those very seven stages multiple times in the past 1 and 1/2 years, in my search for the perfect rug. I have gone through every website and store, dreamt of rugs and finally decided I don’t need a rug, several times. I finally bought one over Thanksgiving. And it is not the perfect rug. I did not fall in love with it when it arrived. But after a month now, I finally like it. No, I love it. And I am very happy with the decision.
Great, great article. For some reason, I find a rug is the most difficult thing to buy. Loved the post!
I’m glad to hear you could relate, Vin!! I think it’s SO GREAT that when you finally decided on a rug you fell in love with it over time, that’s awesome, and I wish more people could have that experience too. Thanks for sharing:)
Mary Jo says
Hahaha!!! YES! Someone needed to write this post so badly- and I’m thankful it was you 😊
Point #2 is what HGTV and all the other sources don’t talk a lot about, but it really is a huge factor to the whole process. But I also applaude you for talking about the overall picture- because “good enough” usually is the best!
Thanks so much, Mary Jo! As much as I love HGTV and decor magazines, they really just scratch the surface and don’t dig deeper in the process that designers use to really make decisions. I realize they have to cut out a lot for time sake. Also, a lot of designers just have an instinct for what works, but you can’t TEACH that to someone. My hope is to break down the processes I use, so people can understand WHY to make a decision. Thanks for sharing your thought:)
Heather, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your posts! Each time I read a new one or an email newsletter, it’s like you are inside my head! Even as a professional designer, I still sometimes get sucked into finding the “perfect” item….especially when dealing with my own home. (I feel like we can often be our own worst clients!) The timing of your latest post is truly ideal…a great reminder as I finally make some decisions on two rugs I’ve been researching/debating since last summer! Thanks for your insights!
Oh, thank you so much for the sweet words, Gail! (Yes, we are most definitely our worst clients. I would “fire” me if I could.) I think because we are exposed to so many great things in our line of work, we can fall into the “perfect” trap easily as well as our clients. Best of luck with the rugs:) xo
Nancy @ slightly Coastal says
Great post! Great advice! I’ve been there on the rug. I too want “too much” from a rug. Why doesn’t someone make a textured rug that is soft, is a solid light color but hides stains, has the perfect fringe (you know, the kind that stays put), is sold in large sizes, and is affordable? I know. I know. Way too much to ask.
Hahaha! Totally get it, Nancy. If only we had a “rug genie”, right? Best of luck with your rug:)
Jenny B. says
Hi Heather, I found your blog this morning after seeing your post about fiddle leaf figs on Pinterest (I have a black thumb/arm too). 😉 I can also completely relate to the rug shopping woes! You give great advice! I especially appreciate your tip to choose one attribute. I’ve been guilty of wanting my rug to be all three. I noticed in this post that there are several sentences where a word seems to be missing. I just thought I’d let you know in case you want to go back and edit. Stuff like that happens to me when I’m typing too, and it’s hard to notice after you’ve read it to yourself 20 times. 🙂 I’m glad I found your post today, and I’m looking forward to reading more!
Thanks for stopping by today, Jenny! Welcome! I appreciate the heads up on the typos, and I think I fixed the spots. I’ll just make a disclaimer that most of my posts will probably be similar. Even as a former English teacher, writing a blog post with a two-year old pulling my arm and Elmo in the background has led to many grammatical sins. lol. Hope you’ll stick around regardless:)
You and Emily have jump-started my thoughts this morning! Now I totally realize that I have the wrong-sized rug in my room (it fits the seating area well but isn’t oriented with the size of the room) and given me the idea that I can use a ROUND rug in my foyer. I think that will look so great with all my rectangular rooms. Yea! Thanks for all of your advice this early Sunday morning 🙂
At last I have found my ‘people’ – ladies who truly understand the agony of the perfect rug! I thoroughly enjoyed this post, Heather!
I would love to see similar advice in overcoming the agony of choosing paint colours. I’m really sick of repainting my living room!
YES! We, get it! You read my mind…I am putting together something really BIG on the topic of color. It will be a few months before it’s ready, but stay tuned. (PS: If you can’t wait that long, hit me up for a paint color consult…I’m guessing you’re needing a second set of eyes on the space. I’ll give you a “rug lovers” discount. Lol:)
Ernest London says
I like your idea to not focus on the rug in isolation, but thinking about it in terms of the room it will go in. That way, you can make sure the rug you choose matches your decor and it fits in perfectly. My wife and I are redecorating, and we are having trouble finding the right rug. I will definitely keep this in mind for the future as we shop for a rug, thanks for sharing!
Noah J. Herring says
I loved it, Its a very Fine way of Describing the Furniture. I would like you to refer this http://www.manhattanhomedesignreviews.com/ for you to know How is actually the view of the customers. who are purchasing it. Hope it will give you a good Knowledge
Mary G. Greene says
I loved this recently me and my hubby has purchased this http://www.eamesloungereproduction.com/ so this week in the shopping we want to purchase this.
I have Purchased This Furniture. It looks Really Nice I play it with my Arco Lamp Colors http://www.arco-lamp-reproduction.com/ within the best times. we make the best Pleasure
I’ve been wanting to find an area rug for our living room for a while now, and we haven’t had a lot of luck when it comes to finding the right one. I’m glad that you talked about not knowing what kind of rug we need, which sounds like the boat that I’m in right now. I think that being able to decide whether the color or the look of the rugs are more important to us though would be good for us to talk about, so I’m glad you mentioned that. I’m going to have to look into some different options and see what I can find for area rugs for our home! Thanks!