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Choosing an area rug: an art and a science

 

Every rug tells a story. 

 

One could argue that area rugs are the most grounding design element in your home — they quite literally occupy the place where your feet touch the ground, offering a soft and comforting connection between you and your home.

Yet despite this grounding quality, choosing the best area rug for your space offers you the opportunity to put your head in the clouds. It’s an invitation to dream — how can your home be a reflection of who you are, where you’ve been, and who you want to become? At abc, your home is a reflection of you, it’s an autobiography of sorts. And finding the right rug can root your story in the physical realm. 

Fundamental pieces like an area rug can help you artfully compose your surroundings to reflect who you are and how you want to feel in your space. The right area rug can completely transform the look and feel of your floors, your room, or your entire space. 

The variety of colors, textures, and creative styles in area rugs is limitless, not to mention the customization that we offer for any rug or carpet. While there are several stylistic and personal decisions involved in choosing the right area rug, there are also practical considerations such as material, size, shape, and making sure that rug you’re buying is high quality.

We’ll address both the personal and practical aspects of the process, offering tips for choosing an area rug that satisfies your aesthetic desires while functioning with your lifestyle. 

Why should you trust us?

In short, time, heritage, experience, passion, and expertise. At abc carpet & home, we’ve been helping customers find the rug or carpet of their dreams for well over a century. 

abc’s history

Our heritage in rug making goes back to 1897, when abc carpet & home first started selling rugs from a pushcart in New York City's Union Square neighborhood. 

Over the years, we’ve gained a lot of knowledge and experience about all aspects of rugs: how they are made, where they are made, who made them, and so on. We’ve also assembled an incredible assortment — with thousands of rugs, we have one of the most diverse selections of rugs in the world.

While we’re still located in the ever-bustling Union Square neighborhood, we’ve progressed well beyond the original pushcart — abc carpet & home now occupies four floors in our flagship Manhattan store at 888 Broadway. 

A lot has changed since the early days, and our values have too. It’s important that our rugs are made under fair trade standards, which is why we have partnered with LabelSTEP, a third party auditor, to ensure proper working conditions. We not only will find you your dream rug, but we’ll do it in a way that upholds our mission to create a better world.

Rug considerations: picking the right rug for your space

Choosing an area rug is a balance of honoring your personal vision and ensuring that it will be a sound practical choice for your environment.

Here are some things to consider when you start searching for a rug. 

Basics

Here are some important considerations to take in mind when choosing an area rug:

Fit by room

What kind of rug feels right in this space? 

One of the first things our salespeople would ask if you were shopping for a rug in the store is: what room is this rug for? It gives them an idea of how the rug will be used, which will help identify what materials and colors are a fit.

 

For example, a colorful, upcycled rug from our Alchemy Collection (they are made from upcycled wool and upcycled silk from silk saris) might be an exquisite pick for an eclectic, boho-style living room with cozy seating and bookshelves. 

 

Or a room with darker or neural tones might pair perfectly with a rug from our vibrant Color Reform Collection.

Or a minimalist home office could be the perfect space to let a unique selection from our Essentials Collection really shine...

There’s no right or wrong — once you understand your practical constraints, it’s all about feeling what rug you’re drawn to. What kind of energy do you want this room to have, and what kind of rug can help you ground it?

 

What are my size constraints? 

How big is the room in question? How much “negative space” do you want to see beyond the borders of the rug? By considering size constraints, you can narrow your search by size to find the most appropriate rug for your space.

We recommend placing your rug about half-way under furniture — too often, people put their sofas entirely on the rug or they keep the rug completely separate from the sofa. We find that the sweet spot is tucked about a foot underneath seating. 

For larger spaces, we recommend playing with size! Get two rugs and layer them strategically, this can also give you some wiggle room to change up the look of your space when it needs a refresh. 

We have a shop-by-size feature that makes it simple to browse through oversized rugs, large rugs, medium rugs, and smaller rugs. We can also customize almost any rug to fit your specific spaces. Some of our clients have used our rugs on staircases, headboards, and more. We encourage your ideas and creativity, and love working on projects that are unique and bespoke.

What shape works? 

Depending on your personal preference, the size of the room, and the placement, you may decide to focus on specific shapes for your area rug. At abc carpet & home, we carry a variety of different sizes and shapes, including runners, round rugs, and a variety of square and rectangle area rugs. The majority of our rugs are rectangular, but many of them can be cut down to fit a specific size. If you have questions about this, you can speak to our sales team anytime through the chat function on our website.

Other important considerations

Caring for your rug

At some point, you’ll need to clean your rug. Be sure to educate yourself on how to properly care for your rug early on in the process — our sales staff can help with this — so that you can stock up on the proper supplies and deal with any spills quickly to avoid potential damage to your beloved piece! We also have a trusted, in-house cleaning team that has been working with our rugs for decades. If you want to send it out for cleaning rather than do it yourself, we can’t recommend them enough.

Traffic and use

What kind of traffic and use will this area rug see? Practical considerations like pets or frequency of foot traffic can affect what type of area rug you choose for a space. 

High traffic: For high traffic areas, and for people with children or pets, we recommend wool as it is naturally more stain resistant and stands up to more rigorous wear and tear. 

Medium traffic: For medium traffic areas, we recommend wool and silk blends. Most of our rugs fall into this category, and it’s for good reason: you get the best of both worlds! A sturdy rug with some of the luster and clarity of silk. 

Light traffic: For light traffic areas, our silk rugs are an excellent choice — they shine with luster and the colors can appear more vibrant. Silk tends to be a more delicate material that can require additional care, which is why we recommend it for spaces that are not highly trafficked. 

We also recommend the higher pile or shag rugs for spaces that receive medium to light foot traffic.

Explore Our Collections

At abc carpet & home, our rug selection has been thoughtfully curated to help bring magic to your space. 

There’s plenty to daydream about among our offerings, from vibrant and unique Moroccan-style rugs to one-of-a-kind Blast Collection to our functional yet beautiful Essentials Collection

Our inspiration

When it comes to rugs, we’re inspired by craftsmanship. We work with artisans who have passed weaving or knotting traditions on for generations — some who even tend to the flocks of goats and sheep that provide the wool for spinning and rug making. 

We’re also passionate about reducing our carbon footprint and ensuring that, wherever we can, we are creating with a conscience. For example, we offer a variety of well-made vintage rugs that have a very small footprint. We also take rugs that are “out of style” and upcycle them with overdying techniques or reductive shredding and distressing techniques — or in some cases, both — in order to reduce waste in the industry. Many of our rugs are made with deadstock or upcycled materials from our factories, reducing waste overall. Developing earth-kind practices are an important part of our value system at abc carpet & home.
 

Our Fair Trade Agreement

abc carpet & home is committed to improving the working conditions and lives of our artisan and maker partners, and to a more sustainable future. We have partnered with LabelSTEP to ensure that our weavers have the resources they need at the workplace and beyond, through a  financial literacy program, healthcare, and fair wages. 

Curating a beautiful selection of rugs is part of our mission, but we realize and take on responsibility as a retailer to effect and encourage positive change in the supply chain wherever it is possible. We’ve been dedicated to personal and planetary sustainability since 2003 and continue to grow our commitment into this year and beyond.

Ready to explore? 

We invite you to explore our carefully curated selection of rugs here.

Looking for assistance? We’re here to help. Consider making an appointment for a virtual consultation