Layering a Rug Over Carpet? Expert Advice on How To Make It Work

updated Jan 2, 2023
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(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

To some, area rugs over wall-to-wall carpeting is taboo. To others, it’s a means to an end; a way to bring in some personality and color, or maybe cover unsightly damage or stains that are beyond a steam clean. If you fall into the “means to an end” camp, Dorian Miroddi—COO and co-founder of contemporary rug company GRIT&ground—is here to help as she shares four ways to make rugs over carpet work for your room (and one big reason why you should try it if you’re on the fence). Layer on!

(Image credit: GRIT&ground)

Why you should try layering rugs over carpets:

Wall-to-wall carpeting shouldn’t be a deterrent for buying area rugs. In fact, look at it as a texturized floor that’s strictly for function. Area rugs on the other hand are works of art and are meant to contribute to the overall aesthetic of a room; they serve a purpose other than function as they set the style and tone for a space, and tie all other decor elements together.

1. Look for contrasting colors and textures

In most cases, wall-to-wall carpeting is very basic; a neutral color with a cut wool pile and no heathering or interesting variation. You want the rug to bring life to the floor (like in Laura’s adorable Melbourne home shown above where she layered a graphic flat weave over beige carpet and a basic tiled hearth).

Choose something with a different texture and/or fiber like jute, sisal, silk, high/low or a flat weave with color and pattern in order for the rug to distinguish itself as a new and important component in the room.

2. Stay away from too much plush

Avoid having the pile be too high on the top layer (think super plush Moroccan shag). Your goal should be to create contrast and dimension, not a mountain that you can trip on.

3. Play with sizes

If you want to partition your space, use a couple of smaller rugs that complement each other. On the other hand, if you’re looking to cover as much of your wall-to-wall carpet as possible, go bigger with a room-sized area rug.

4. Rug pads are your friend

In my opinion, you can’t have a rug without a rug pad. Just because it’s carpet doesn’t mean this marriage should be broken up. Look for rug pads that are specifically for use over carpets or try double-sided carpet tape. Both work well when trying to combat creeping.

For more advice on the subject, check out these two articles with some great ideas from our readers!

→Good Questions: Are Rugs on Wall-to-Wall Carpeting Really that Bad?