Decorate

How to choose the perfect rug

The ultimate checklist for getting your rug choice right.
Blue walls and a blue rug created a cocooning effect in this living room.Photography: Abbie Melle Styling: Lisa Burden

Soft and fluffy underfoot, as bright or minimal as you desire, and possessing the ability to create a sense of zoning in open plan spaces; it seems like there’s nothing a good rug can’t do. But how to choose the perfect rug? After all, some spaces in the home are simply not cut out for carpet, and with many homeowners preferring cohesion with a hard floor throughout the entire house, softening in style is a natural next step.  

“Rugs and runners are a great way to layer spaces, create zones and add warmth,” says Oliver Interiors stylist and designer, Bree Oliver. “They can help to break up a large open-plan space, defining each area and anchoring furniture. A rug not only adds beauty and style but also offers comfort and warmth.”

A neutral rug with a black geometric pattern sits atop wooden floors

Homeowner Carol was determined to combine comfort with a tailored look in her living room, where an Armadillo rug pulls the space together. (Photography: Helen Ward)

1. Why are rugs important?

A solid foundation is crucial for the success of any space. A rug can be transformative, drawing all elements of a room together effortlessly. If you’re not sure where to begin, just remember the basics. “When choosing a rug, consider texture, colour, pattern and natural fibres,” says Becky Somerville, general manager at Hali Rugs.

You can make a statement with a Persian rug or keep it muted and minimal. For the latter, Armadillo co-founder Jodie Fried has a firm favourite option. “A beautiful jute or jute and wool rug in a neutral tone is the ultimate chameleon; it works with most colour schemes and room settings, and adds a wonderful, earthy feel,” she says.

Blue walls and a blue rug created a cocooning effect in this living room.
Spots and stripes introduce pattern to this blue-toned living room. (Credit: Photography: Abbie Melle / Styling: Lisa Burden)

2. How do I know a rug is high quality?

Choosing the right rug for you can be quite an investment. The better the quality of your rug, the longer the lifespan, and typically the hand-made variety are superior. “Hand-knotted rugs are made by skilled weavers and can last for decades if cared for properly. The smaller the knots and the higher the number per square inch equates to higher density and better quality, which means the rug will stand up to foot traffic for longer,” Jodie explains. “Don’t mistake hand-knotted with hand-tufted or hand-loomed – the latter are generally inferior, cheaper and faster to make and often sold at a similar price to hand-knotted rugs.”

A cream rug from Miss Amara delineates the sitting area, placed atop parquetry floors from Aged Oak Floors.

A cream rug from Miss Amara delineates the sitting area, placed atop parquetry floors from Aged Oak Floors. (Photography: Simon Whitbread)

3. What is the best material for rugs?

“If you want a durable, long-lasting rug, look for high-quality natural materials, such as wool, jute, silk or linen, along with a cotton warp for a strong and sturdy base,” advises Sally Pottharst, co-founder of Armadillo. “Synthetic fibres are one of the biggest offenders in terms of emitting harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds).  Additionally, they are not biodegradable and require a lot of energy and chemicals to produce in comparison to natural fibres.”

Synthetic polypropylene or polyester rugs are however easier to clean, durable and more cost effective – perfect for kids rooms and outdoor spaces, while the luxe look and feel of wool and silk offers a sumptuous sensation underfoot in bedrooms and living areas. “A rug made from natural fibres such as New Zealand wool, Tencel or cocoon silk is generally of a higher quality than synthetic fibres,” says Becky from Hali Rugs.

Jute is an increasingly popular choice, especially among coastal style interiors. “Jute can come in varying tones, and a predominately golden colour is the best quality and most desirable. Golden tones generally mean the fibre is also stronger due to the optimal conditions and time of harvesting,” says Sally.

Zoe and Benji Marshall Sydney home living room
A textured rug adds visual interest and sensory delight. (Photography: Chris Warnes / Styling: Corina Koch))

4. What should I look for when buying a rug?

“The biggest mistake most people make when using rugs is opting for a rug that it too small,” warns interior designer Bree Oliver from Oliver Interiors, who suggests bigger is always better. “In a dining room, all the furniture must sit on the rug and you need to be able to pull the chairs out, whilst still staying on the rug. In a living room your sofas and chairs should all sit fully on the rug,” she advises.  “At the very minimum, the front half of the sofa must be on the rug.”

Hali Rugs General Manager Becky Somerville suggest measuring up to avoid the common error. “Before you shop for a rug, measure your space carefully and consider the size of your furniture to ensure that you choose the right size and scale for your room.”

When it comes to style, there’s room to have a little more fun as rugs aren’t a fixed installation – but a quality item is a big investment, so it’s worth taking the time to choose your colour. “It can impact the overall ambiance of your home, so consider your existing colour scheme and style of your space – if you have neutral colour palette, a bold rug can add a pop of colour and make a statement,” says Becky. “Warm colours such as red, orange, yellow and browns can create a cozy and welcoming feel, while cooler colours such as blues and greens can create a calming and relaxing atmosphere.” For guaranteed cohesion, Armadillo’s Jodie suggests drawing your rug colour from another key element in the room, such as an artwork, the flooring beneath the rug or your upholstery.

LIVING AREA This is one of Annelise's favourite rooms. "It's a perfect space for the family to come together and watch movies, or for guests to relax in before and after dinner," she says. The Coast to Country Custom Furniture sofas are ideal for sinking into after a long day, and have been paired with Walter G cushions, a custom rug from The Maine House, coffee table from Trit House and 'Puspa' wall hanging from The Dharma Door. A crackling fireplace from Highland Fires & BBQs earns its keep in winter. For a similar floor lamp, try Fat Shack Vintage. The artworks were vintage finds.
A custom rug from The Maine House adds a warm base to this sun-drenched space. (Photography: Natalie Hunfalvay | Styling: Lisa Burden)

5. What is rug edging and backing?

Before rolling out a brand new rug, check what’s underneath – a rug with a synthetic backing may contain harsh chemicals that can cause damage to hardwood floors.  It’s also worth investing in a non-slip rug pad to keep your prized possession in place on a slippery surface – just be sure to stick to natural fibres that will still allow your rug to breathe, avoiding mould and mildew. 

“Most commonly the edges of rugs are hand or machine bound or are fringed. These styles do not impact the functionality of the rug, but they can impact the style and overall look,” explains Becky. “Fringed rugs can add a classic and traditional feel, while bound rugs can provide a clean and modern look.”

A cream rug with thick blue stripes is placed beneath the dining table and chairs.
Interior designer Melinda Hartwright used colour and pattern in this rug to match the interiors to the stunning coastal vistas. (Photography: Chris Warnes)

6. Cleaning and caring for your rugs

“When it comes to maintaining and caring for your rug, the key is to be gentle,” warns Becky. “Vacuum regularly across the width if possible to remove dirt and debris, but avoid using harsh chemicals or scrubbing too aggressively.” It’s also best to avoid a rotating or brush-head vacuum as this can cause damage to handmade rugs.

Treat stains immediately with a gentle cleaning solution and rotate it regularly to prevent wear and tear in high foot traffic areas. Cotton and synthetic rugs are usually machine washable (always check with the manufacturer) while wool, silk and jute are best left to the professionals. “Prevent bacteria build-up on your rug by harnessing the natural antibacterial powers of the sun. Every few months, turn your rug over and place it in a sunny spot for an hour. Vacuum the back before repositioning,” suggests Sally.

Miss Amara founder with her son and husband on a soft, fluffy rug

The founders of Miss Amara, Alexandra Tanya Weller and Aaron Weller sit with their son Hayden on the Miss Amara ‘Tandara‘ washable rug. (Credit: Miss Amara)

Miss Amara founder Alexandra Tanya Weller shares the latest rug trends

1. Vibrant colour pairings

“Embracing vibrant colours as focal points in interior design creates dynamic spaces,” shares Alexandra. “Pairings like warm peach-pink, green-blues and yellow-oranges inject energy and personality into rooms, making them visually captivating.”

2. Stripey patterns

“Stripes, especially solid ones, and the timeless charm of gingham are making a statement in interior design,” says Alexandra. “These patterns offer a balance between simplicity and visual interest, providing a classic yet fresh look to any room.”

3. Hand drawn graphics

“Drawing inspiration from Mediterranean influences, organic hand-drawn shapes and playful illustrations like fruits and ocean motifs bring a sense of travel and whimsy, creating a wanderlust atmosphere.”

4. Scalloped edges

“The trend of curves has evolved into scalloped edges and round shapes, adding depth and dimension to traditionally flat edges,” shares Alexandra. “This nod to vintage aesthetics introduces sweet, feminine touches, enhancing the overall charm of the space. A round rug is a softer aesthetic so we’ve brought our best selling rectangle rugs out in a roundshape, with gorgeous textures and patterns including Josephine, Melia and Karmen.”

5. Eco-friendly

Buyers are still eager to buy sustainably, with the environment in front of mind, and Miss Amara is happy to cater to those concerns. “Made from recycled plastic bottles, Norelle is stain resistant, kid-friendly and pet-friendly with the feeling of cotton,” says Alexandra. “Olympia is a handmade textured wool rug, with an organic round pattern, the perfect addition to create a cosy corner or add a luxe touch for an office.”

The best rugs to shop in Australia

A cream and purple rug with a floral pattern

01

‘Addison’ multi-colour distressed rug

$159.20 (usually $199) for 180cm x 120cm , Miss Amara

This classic cream and purple rug has a floral motif that is at once modern, while still maintaining an old world charm.

Key features:

  • Pet friendly
  • Stain resistant
  • Easy care
A neutral toned rug with a diamond pattern

02

‘Atlas’ rug in shade Natural

$1500 for 170cm x 240cm, Armadillo

With nods to traditional Moroccan beni ourain rugs, this timeless design is hand-knotted into a low pile in neutral hues with a diamond pattern.

Key features:

  • Wool fibre
  • Timeless style
  • Hand knotted
A weaved rug made from a mix of wool and jute

03

‘Gemini’ weave rug in shade Cream Mix

$1499 for 160cm x 230cm, Ground Control Rugs

Luxe wool and a twisted jute thread makes this rug a textural dream underfoot, with a warming neutral tone that is highly versatile.

Key features:

  • Cotton backing
  • Hand loomed
  • Neutral
A cream and ivory rug featuring an abstract print

04

‘Maisie’ cream and ivory textured tribal rug

$174.30 (usually $249) for 180cm x 120cm, Miss Amara

Neutral and natural, this cream rug features an abstract print in ivory for subtle texture and playful pattern.

Key features:

  • Eco-friendly
  • Natural materials
  • Handmade

05

River weave cotton & jute rug in Black

$1299 for 230cm x 160cm, Ground Control Rugs

Hand-woven from hard-wearing, touch-me textures of jute and cotton, just the slightest touch of gold woven throughout, personalise this elegant rug to suit your style with or without tassels.

Key features:

  • 60% hemp, 35% cotton, 5% lurex
  • Sizes include 2x3m, 3x4m
  • Hand loomed to order
  • Available with or without tassels
A round rug in a caramel tone

06

Round ‘Fragment’ rug in shade Caramel

$499 for 150cm, Ground Control Rugs

Built for the areas in your home that have the highest foot traffic, this water-resistant and fade-resistant rug is as durable as it is stylish.

Key features:

  • Hand made
  • Allergy-friendly
  • Round shape
A deep green rug made from abrash-dyed wool

07

‘Agra’ rug in shade Artichoke

$5000 for 240cm x 300cm, Armadillo

This deep cut pile rug has a rich and deep green tone that reflects the light, achieved through hand-knotting with the finest abrash-dyed wool.

Key features:

  • Colourful
  • Wool
  • Handmade in India
A Persian rug that is blue and white, with a distressed look

08

‘Evoke Horizon’ rug in shades White and Navy

$499 for 330cm x 240cm, Myer

This rug offers all the pattern of a traditional Persian floor covering, with a distressed look for a mature appeal.

Key features:

  • Power loomed
  • Made in Turkey
  • Colourful

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