These Are the 6 Dos and Don’ts of Layering Rugs, According to Designers

published Mar 8, 2022
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Why settle for one rug in your space when you can put two together? Layering rugs is always welcome, but if you’re not sure how to pull off this look, we spoke with five designers who offered their opinions on the dos and don’ts of layering rugs throughout your home. Some of their advice may surprise you.

Do and Don’t: Mix Solid Styles With Patterns

Don’t go for a pattern-on-pattern look, designer Antoinette Allande Anderson says. “The most successful layering, in my opinion, is a vintage patterned rug (for example, Persian) combined with a natural woven rug (for example, jute).”

However, a number of the other designers are pro pattern-on-pattern and encourage it if it feels right. “Do have fun mixing patterns, textures, and even shapes,” says designer Ashley Ross. Either way, a patterned piece should always go on top, especially if you share your space with little ones. Ross says, “The top layer should mimic casino carpet! Patterns are forgiving when it comes to stains.” Designer Mary Kathryn Wells agrees: “The more pattern, the less likely you are to notice the errant chocolate or wine stain!”

Do: Layer Rugs in Large Rooms

According to designer Djalna McSween, layering rugs will help anchor furniture in large spaces. It offers some other benefits, too. “This also allows you to create vignettes in large open spaces,” McSween says.

Wells agrees that incorporating layered rugs into spacious rooms is the way to go. “In the case of an oversized family room, you can create two separate spaces within the larger room by using a base rug that covers most of the floor space, and then layering a smaller rug underneath a sofa and a pair of chairs at one end of the room, to create a separate section within the larger room,” she says. “Rugs can really help dictate and signal the spaces within a room.”

McSween adds, “Many consumers buy a rug that is too small on the first try. If that happens, layering a larger rug underneath will give the room balance.” Wells has seen this scenario play out in her own work. “I recently found a beautiful, bargain-priced rug for a client’s home, but the rug was going to be a hair too small in the room,” she says. “But because it was so reasonably priced, we went for it and got the rug anyway. Then the client layered a sisal rug underneath our selection to cover more floor space.”

Do: Layer Rugs Over Carpet

Yes, placing a rug over carpeted flooring is its own kind of layering, and it’s totally fair game, McSween says. “Many of my clients are apprehensive about laying rugs on their carpets but don’t regret it when they do,” she says. “Adding a rug to your carpet helps to define areas in your space, adds another layer of comfort, and helps protect the carpet.”

Do: Prioritize Safety and Comfort

Rug pads check the box for both safety and comfort and can be purchased affordably, too. “Rug pads don’t only prevent rugs from slipping but also add another layer of comfort to the rug,” McSween states. “They may also be necessary when layering certain rugs — it’s always safer to use one.”

Additionally, be mindful about height when layering, Ross says. “Don’t create a tripping hazard layering rugs; the base layer should always be the higher-profiled or higher-pile rug for high-traffic areas.”

Credit: JM Lyon

Do: Be Strategic With Placement

Rugs are an excellent way to showcase your aesthetic preferences but are ultimately functional pieces that deserve prime placement. “A must when it comes to layering rugs is to make sure to place them where your feet land on a daily basis,” says designer Maria Palantino. “Along your bedside, in front of your reading nook, and even under your bathroom vanity can be some of the best places to experiment with layering rugs!”

Don’t: Sweat the Rules Too Much

Remember: You make the rules in your own home. “At the end of the day, if you like it and it makes you happy, then it works!” Wells says. “Your home is for you and its inhabitants, and that’s whose opinion matters when it comes to layering rugs and every other choice you make within it!”