The first time I saw rugs on carpet was when I was visiting my grandma in Arizona. I asked why she had so many rugs on top of her carpet when the floor was already, well, carpeted.
She told me sweetly that they protect her floors and keep her feet warm.
Now, living in my own home and cleaning my own floors, I am in the same camp as my grandma.
And when you have good style, they can help you define spaces within your home too.
So how do you layer rugs on carpet in a way that looks good, protects your floors, and is comfortable?
We got you. We know a thing or two about how to handle a rug, so we’ll share with you some tips for styling rugs on carpet in your home.
Is it dumb to put a rug over a carpet?
No, it’s not.
First, carpeted floors are expensive to clean. But layering an area rug adds a stylish shield allowing you to clean a spillage before it stains.Secondly, adding temporary flooring over carpet is a smart and cheap way to get trendy and add style to your home without any permanent changes. Thirdly, did we mention how cozy and warm they make your rooms feel? They do. Lastly, a carpeted floor looks bland, and your only option to a world of color could be a cotton oriental rug in a rented space. Duh.
Tips for layering rugs over carpet
Despite your reason for layering, you’ll want a few tips and ideas to bring out the best of this interior décor trend. The right texture, color, size, and plushness make a massive difference between a rug sale and a well-thought-out layering plan.
Vary the textures
When placing an area rug over the carpet, ensure both the rug and the carpet are low-profile. For example, if you put an area rug (low profile) on a cut wool deep pile, it compresses the wool every time you walk on it. Your rug then buckles, posing a safety hazard.
From there, spice things up with a bit of texture.
We love the way @homesweethorton pairs the short pile area rug with the texture of the floor seats and the faux fur rug on the leather couch.
But what if you've got a bulky carpet flooring, making it difficult to pile things on top of it?
If you place a low-profile looped Berber rug down first, then the foundation is solid to add something exciting, like a Persian rug for a dash of color. For sisal grass as the base, pair with cow hide or sheepskin jute to break the roughness.
Match the colors
I know it’s tempting to try to be edgy or quirky with your color choices, but it’s best to try to choose colors that don’t clash too much. For a classic finish, color coordination is critical. Be bold to mix and match patterns, but the colors need to work together. Use tonal or complementary colors, meaning different shades of your desired palette blend effortlessly.
And that's exactly what the experts do.
Mimi Gee, an interior designer for @ohsochicinteriors, says that her clients get surprised when she suggests a rug for their carpeted room.
"But if it's not within the budget to replace the flooring," she explains, then "it's a great way to bring some color."
You can also see an example of how Kim coordinated colors together in her budget guest bedroom project.
If you simply want to spruce up with throw mats, then size is a major consideration. When placed aimlessly, they create a heap at best or scattered chaos at worst. Place too small a rug with no furnishing touching it, and the room feels underwhelming.
Before choosing a rug type and size, consider your house layout, size, and furnishing design.
For proper layering, it really depends on the look you’re going for.
"The layering effect works best when the rugs are of different sizes," says Andra DelMonico, Lead Interior Designer for Trendey.
"Your large anchor rug should be positioned in a traditional manner in alignment with the furniture. Then arrange the smaller rugs at a 45-degree angle."
For large area rugs, ensure your larger rug ratio to the smaller one is enough to show off each piece’s character. As a rule of thumb, measure your carpet size and subtract two to three feet on each side to get the right size to layer.
Gee also adopts the practice of leaving a border of carpet peeking out from behind your chosen area rug...
... and it looks pretty damn good.
This leaves an attractive border around where you lay the rug. So when choosing an area rug for your large space, consider that, for example, your 9x12 carpeting goes well with a 6x9 layered rug.
Stick to just one pattern
Patterns can be subtle or chaotic, depending on how you mix them. For example, if you blend jewel-toned floral patterns and pastel tone animal print, the eye doesn’t know where to rest, and the room may seem confusing.
But that doesn't mean that you can't use something bold and exciting over your otherwise dull carpet.
Erica Reiner, Lead Designer at Eco Method Interiors, reminds us to "keep in mind the design elements already in place in the room. If there’s already a lot of patterns, pair a solid rug with a patterned one."
We really love this vintage Persian rug setup by @twoshakesvintage. They show us just how well a bold pattern can work in a room.
Avoid too much plush
Plush area rugs will instantly leave your rooms feeling warm and fuzzy. However, too much plush makes them compress and decompress with each footstep.
This means bulking, bunching, and creeping, which is a tripping hazard. As a rule of thumb, your plush pile works better on low-profile carpets.
Use a non-slip rug pad to secure the rug and prevent ripples
We recommend placing our Carpet Lock under your top layer to reduce sliding, shifting, and bulking. Besides, you get double the comfort.
Measure and cut your padding two to four inches smaller than your top layer — for your hallways or foyer mostly — for it to fit snugly without peeking or lifting the rug.
Anchor with furniture
It’s always helpful to have part of your furniture on the rug. For example, have the two front of your sofa sitting on the rug. By doing this, they hold it in place and reduce shifting and bulking.
Heavier furniture works better at anchoring, but lighter furniture can help anchor the area rug visually to avoid a floating look, like in this setup:
"When laying any type of flooring, rugs included, it's important to look at how the sunlight reflects off of your floor. It's perfectly natural for rugs and flooring to fade with intense sunlight, but if you're layering rugs on top of a carpet, it's important to make sure you won't be left with >any weird patterns as a result if you pull up the rug." — Cathryn Bailey, Founder of Bomisch
Why you should try layering a rug on a carpet
Not all of us are graced with perfectly satisfying floors. Some of us are given cheap, short pile carpets that look almost identical to the dirty floors of my elementary school library.
When that happens, you add rugs.
Layering is a practical and versatile interior design trend to add comfort, tone variation, and style where and how you like.
Add more variation and style
Carpets will often come in neutral shades and hotel-lobby-esque patterns, making the use of stylish rugs a no brainer. But even if you have a handpicked carpet that is Pinterest worthy, you can easily add some extra flare with a few layered rugs.
Introduce a flat woven rug such as kilims, durries, or hide, and your house looks bright and inviting.
For example, round out an eclectic finish by layering a faux cow hide rug over classic sisal (we can even suggest the best rug pad for cow hide)
Or add a lush sheepskin rug over a jute base for a soft landing when you awake.
Or, you could effortlessly create a focal point with a circular Persian rug accentuating the antique coffee table you got at a bargain.
Reduce carpet wear in high-traffic areas
Another reason to put rugs on your carpet (that my grandma was onto) is to protect your carpets. Your hallways, bathroom, and nursery are high traffic areas that expose your carpet to wear and tear.
The good news: you can place a runner rug for beauty while subtly keeping the carpet in those areas cushioned from every footprint.
Add extra comfort
A Jute or sisal wall-to-wall is a pretty common carpet choice in homes, but can leave you feeling a little uninspired.
For extra comfort and a soft landing in the morning, you could place a sheepskin rug beside your bed or a kilim rug in the sitting area to ensure your feet are safe from abrasion.
Conceal carpet damage
If you have kids, pets, or an appreciation for good wine, then it’s likely that you’ve got a few cheeky stains on your carpet. If you’ve got patches of stains on your carpet, then simply look for oriental-looking rugs at your favorite home décor shop (#shoplocal) and cover up the spills.
FAQs about layering rugs on carpet
Do area rugs ruin carpet?
While they won’t ruin carpet, area rugs lack a stable foundation and you’ll need to reposition them often.
What do you put under a rug on a carpet?
Use rug pads that are specifically designed for carpeted floors (aka “carpet-to-carpet”). Rug pads for carpets are designed to keep your area rug from creeping while protecting your floor covering. We suggest our Carpet Lock. Its felt under the surface is specifically designed to attach itself to your carpet fibers and keep your rug from slipping and sliding.
Will rubber-backed rugs damage carpet?
Yes, rubber-backed rugs will damage carpet because of poor aeration. The preservative (BHT-butylhydroxytoluene) gas gets trapped between your floor covering and rug pad, causing the pile to turn yellow, otherwise known as ”fading.”
Why does my rug keep moving on my carpet?
The main reason boils down to your floor covering’s pile size. The plushier it is, the more your rug creeps with every step. The rug follows the direction of the pile when you walk on it.
How do you get a rug to lay flat on carpet?
- Anchor the rug with furniture
- Place non-slip carpet padding under the rug
- Use rug tape under the rug to hold it in place